HIV/AIDS: Overview

HIV targets and weakens the immune system, raising the risk and severity of other infections and diseases. HIV is a sexually transmitted disease (STI). It can also be transmitted by exposure to contaminated blood, infected injectables, or sharing needles. It can spread from mother to child through pregnancy, delivery, or nursing. Without treatment, it could take years for HIV to weaken the immune system to the extent to develop AIDS.

HIV/AIDS has no cure; however, medications help keep the infection under control and the condition from developing. Fortunately, effective HIV treatment (known as antiretroviral therapy or ART) is available. People with HIV who take their HIV medication as prescribed and reach and keep an undetected infection rate can live long and healthy lives and will not transmit HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex.


The symptoms of HIV/AIDS are as follows:

When to see a doctor?

If a person suspects they came in contact with the virus. Consult the doctor immediately to get a correct diagnosis of the condition.


The human immunodeficiency virus belongs to the human retrovirus family and a subfamily of lentiviruses that causes AIDS. HIV is a sexually transmitted infection (STD). HIV causes AIDS. HIV is a virus that targets the immune system. As HIV slowly damages the body's immune cells, the body's immunity worsens, making it susceptible to several opportunistic infections. AIDS is an advanced form of HIV. AIDS can take several years to develop.

Risk factors

  • Sexual Contact : The most prevalent cause of transmission of the virus is sexual contact through unprotected vaginal or anal sex.
  • Blood Transfusion : One can get the virus by HIV-infected blood transfusion.
  • Sharing Infected Needles : HIV can be transmitted through the use of infected needles and syringes.
  • From Mother to Child : The virus is transmitted from mother to child during or before delivery and even during nursing.
  • Body Fluids : These fluids, such as blood, sperm, vaginal fluid, breast milk, amniotic fluid around the fetus, and cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord, have been shown to spread HIV infection.
  • Having unprotected sex : Most individuals get HIV from unprotected intercourse. The virus enters the human body through the rectum, mouth, and genitals during intercourse. Protection should be used to prevent this. Condom usage reduces the risk of sexually transmitted infections.
  • Drug use : Sharing needles used by others increases the risk of contracting HIV. A small quantity of blood is enough to transmit HIV.
  • Certain health issues : Having certain sexually transmitted diseases increases the risk of contracting HIV. Gonorrhea, warts, syphilis, and genital herpes are the most frequent.
  • Blood products : Because blood banks do not screen for HIV, the virus can be transmitted to healthy people after a blood transfusion.
  • Having certain professions : Working in situations where people come into touch with patient body fluids, and blood samples increases the chance of contracting HIV. Like healthcare professionals and people working in laboratories.


HIV infection affects the immune system, increasing the risk of infection and some types of cancer.

Infections common to HIV/AIDS

  • Candidiasis : Candidiasis is a common fungal infection known as thrush. After a simple visual examination, it can be treated with antifungal drugs.
  • Coccidioidomycosis : This common fungal illness can lead to pneumonia if left untreated.
  • Cryptococcosis : This fungal infection often enters the lungs and spreads quickly to the brain, resulting in cryptococcal meningitis. This fungal infection is often lethal if left untreated.
  • Cryptosporidiosis : Cryptosporidiosis is a diarrheal condition that frequently turns chronic. It is characterized by severe diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
  • Cytomegalovirus : This common virus affects most people at some point in their lives and frequently presents as an eye or gastrointestinal disease.
  • Tuberculosis (TB) : Tuberculosis (TB): Tuberculosis is a frequent opportunistic illness linked to HIV.
  • Toxoplasmosis : It is caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which cats primarily spread. Infected cats excrete parasites, which can transmit to other animals, including people. When toxoplasmosis spreads to the brain, it can cause heart disease and seizures.

Cancers common to HIV/AIDS

  • Lymphoma : This cancer starts in the white blood cells. The early symptom is the presence of painless lymph nodes in your neck, armpit, or groin.
  • Kaposi's sarcoma : Kaposi's sarcoma is a tumor of the blood vessel walls that often develop as pink, red, or purple sores on the skin and mouth. Kaposi's sarcoma can affect internal organs such as the digestive tract and lungs.
  • HPV-related cancers : Cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection are referred to as HPV-related cancers. Anal, oral, and cervical cancers are among them.

Other complications

  • Wasting syndrome : HIV/AIDS can lead to significant weight loss, frequently accompanied by diarrhea, persistent weakness, and fever.
  • Neurological complications : HIV can develop neurological complications such as disorientation, amnesia, melancholy, anxiety, and difficulty walking. HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) vary from minor behavioral changes and impaired mental functioning to severe dementia, which causes weakness and difficulty in working.
  • Kidney disease : Kidney disease: HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN) is an inflammatory disease of the small filters in your kidneys that remove excess fluid and toxins from the blood and send them to the urine.
  • Liver Disease : Liver disease is another major complication, especially in people with hepatitis B or C.


The best way to reduce your risk of HIV is to understand how it spreads and to protect yourself during certain activities. Having intercourse without a condom and sharing needles to take drugs are the most common ways HIV spreads. Some ways to reduce your risk include:

  • Avoid using condoms made from animal products.
  • To protect yourself against HIV, it is essential to wear a condom correctly.
  • Water-based lubricants should be used.
  • Never share needles when using medications.
  • Other STDs must be tested and treated as they raise your risk of contracting HIV.
  • Try not to get drunk or high.
  • You are at high risk of HIV infection, consult your doctor about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).
  • If you have been exposed to HIV, call your doctor as soon as possible to determine whether you need post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
  • Consider being tested to see if you can transmit HIV to others.


Most HIV-positive individuals have no symptoms and are unaware that they are infected. Testing is the only method to confirm HIV infection. Suppose you experience flu-like symptoms after a possible HIV exposure. HIV testing would allow you to get treatment more quickly and reduce the spreading of the condition.

  • Antibody test : This test looks for HIV antibodies in blood or oral fluids and detects HIV faster than any other test. However, these antibodies can only be produced three to twelve weeks after infection.
  • A combination (Antigen/ Antibody) : A combination (Antigen/ Antibody) test evaluates the blood for HIV antigens and antibodies. Antigens are foreign chemicals that trigger the immune system, and in response to infection, the immune system produces antibodies. Before antibodies are produced when you're infected with HIV, an antigen called p-24 is made. A combined test takes 2 to 6 weeks to detect HIV infection.
  • Nucleic Acid Tests : HIV is detected in blood using nucleic acid tests. This test can detect HIV infection as early as 7-28 days after a person becomes infected. But this test is not frequently used for HIV screening.


Even though there is no cure for HIV, many medications are available to help manage it. These drugs (known as antiretroviral treatment or ART) frequently prevent HIV from developing into AIDS. Even when HIV develops into AIDS, antiretroviral medication is often effective; however, it is most effective when started early.

Even if you take HIV medications and feel OK, you might still spread the infection to others via unsafe intercourse (without a condom) or blood exchanges. The medicines do not eradicate the virus; instead, they maintain the immune system strong enough to prevent or stop the spread of AIDS. HIV has a high survival rate if treated early. People who get detected early may expect to live as long as someone who does not have HIV.

Dos and Don’ts

Protecting the immune system while living with HIV is more important than ever to maintain overall health. Keeping your body as healthy as possible improves its ability to fight viruses and other diseases. These do’s and don't will help you manage the symptoms and prevent the harmful effects of the disease.

Do’s Don’ts
Use sterilized needles Have sexual intercourse without using protection.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Have multiple sexual partners
Get tested for STD if you suspect the symptoms. Use needles already used by others
Have safe sex- use condoms Start medicines without consulting your doctor
See your doctor regularly Skip your scheduled doctor’s appointment

Care at Medicover Hospitals

At Medicover, we have the best team of Doctors & Surgeons who work together to provide HIV/AIDS treatment with utmost precision. Our highly skilled team utilizes the latest medical approach, diagnostic procedures, and technologies to treat various Doctor's & Surgeons conditions and ailments. For treating HIV/AIDS, we adopt a multi-disciplinary approach, provide comprehensive care to the patients, and attend to all their medical needs for faster and sustained recovery.

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