World AIDS Day: December 1st

* In partnership with Influenster and Johnson and Johnson



Tomorrow, December 1st is World AIDS Day! I decided to make a post about this because I remembered how I previously wrote about pregnancy scares and how important it is to practice safe sex. “Let’s Talk About Pregnancy Scares” Though I don’t have this, I can only imagine how one would feel when they get diagnosed. It also crosses my mind every now and then, since whenever you have sex, there’s always a chance you can catch this. So I’m going to do a quick overview about some important HIV/AIDS facts. Don’t worry, I’m not here to be boring or lecture you so I’ll make this as painless as possible (it’s really important). I won’t be discussing all information so feel free to check out the links at the end of my post (click the two buttons).

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What Is HIV/AIDS?

HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. It attacks white blood cells called T cells which then makes the person prone to secondary infections. This is called opportunistic infections and this is what causes most HIV related deaths. AIDS is the last stage of HIV, caused by receiving no treatment during the earlier stages.



How Do You Get It?

HIV is spread through bodily fluids such as semen, blood, vaginal discharge, precum, breast milk and rectal fluids. It’s also spread through infected needles and syringes. A mother who’s infected and has a vaginal birth can infect her newborn. HIV isn’t spread through saliva, sweat or tears.



Symptoms

About 40-90% of people experience flu like symptoms 2-4 weeks after initial contact. Symptoms include:

  • Fever

  • Chills

  • Rash

  • Night sweats

  • Muscle aches

  • Sore throat

  • Fatigue

    It’s important to note that not all people show any signs. Also, don’t panic if you experience these symptoms since they can be related to MANY different illnesses. The clinical latency stage soon follows where a person who’s infected doesn’t show any signs of illness, for up to a decade! Without proper testing and treatment, a person then develops AIDS. Symptoms include:

  • Rapid weight loss

  • Fever

  • Night sweats

  • Extreme fatigue

  • Persistent diarrhea

  • Pneumonia

  • Memory loss



Testing

Testing can be done in any medical office: clinic, urgent care, hospital, primary care doctor office, etc. You can give a blood sample or saliva sample, both of which test for HIV antibodies. If it’s found that the person has antibodies, it means they tested positive for HIV. You should wait 3-12 weeks after suspected exposure to get tested to allow the body time to develop detectable antibodies.



Treatment

Though there isn’t a cure for HIV/AIDS, there’s medication to help extend your lifespan. Antiretrovirals (they attack viruses) are used for treatment and help the infected live longer and reduce the risk of spreading it to partners or others. It reduces the amount of viral load in the bloodstream and other bodily fluids. Some side effects of these medications include:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Headache

  • Fatigue

  • Pain



I just want to remind everyone: PLEASE PRACTICE SAFE SEX. STD rates are at an all time high in the United States. Condoms are your best friend. Use them and stay safe. I personally recommend getting STD tested twice a year. For more information and a complete list of symptoms and personal stories, feel free to click the buttons below