HIV is a disease which affects your immune system. It allows other diseases and viruses to develop rapidly and affect you more harmfully than they would if you were HIV free. If it is not treated correctly HIV can shorten your lifespan significantly. One could survive only a couple of years to a decade depending on the subtype and age group they belong to.
It is recommended to start treatment as soon as the diagnosis is concluded.When the cell-mediated immunity is low or absent the body is more prone to opportunistic infections. This means that it is easier to develop AIDS which affect the cells and the immune system.
Most commonly the disease is spread easily as a sexually transmitted infection. This case makes the largest rate of infection cause for HIV positive patients. However, other cases include being infected by having a blood transfer or contact with blood which carries the virus, semen or vaginal fluids. Using infected and unsafe needles is a common cause of spreading HIV.
There is also the case with infants being infected through breast milk. An infant can acquire the disease by being born of an HIV positive mother. This happens because the infant is in contact with the infected blood or vaginal fluids. If the illness had been established earlier, the baby and the mother can undergo antiretroviral treatment in order to prevent the baby to acquire the disease as well.
The perplexing fact about this is that many people are unaware they are, in fact, infected with the virus. And the most affected groups are young girls and women, especially living in rural parts of the world. The underdevelopment of certain countries contributes to women not receiving proper counsel, correct information or even regular testing.
Most of the countries affected are in Africa. This is where the highest rates of people who are HIV positive can be found. Even in urban areas, we may find a problem. Only a very low percentage of the population had actually been tested and these areas have a sexually active and traveling people.
The risk is heightened by blood donations since people give blood unaware of the fact that they might be contributing infected blood. However, regular screening and check-ups are done in order to prevent this from happening.
HIV has several stages which can be established only via laboratory testing and by following evident signs and symptoms. What is alarming is the fact that a great number of HIV positive people discover it only at an advanced stage. This lowers their quality of life significantly. Apart from that, it affects their treatment and most importantly is very damaging to their overall health.