Even after almost four decades since the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection created panic and turmoil on a global scale, there are still a lot of questions about this disease. More so with the emergence of the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
The life-threatening nature and the lack of a cure for HIV infection call for consistent education especially among young people. A critical part of this information dissemination is emphasizing not only the preventive measures for the disease but the early symptoms and the advantage of HIV testing.
As December marks AIDS Awareness Month, we take part in ending this epidemic by talking about HIV infection and the most convenient HIV test that anyone can secure.
HIV VS AIDS
A lot of people used to believe that HIV and AIDS literally mean the same thing. But they are not interchangeable terms.
HIV is the virus contracted through unprotected sex, blood transfusion, or contact with contaminated body fluids with an infected person. On the other hand, AIDS is a progression of HIV infection which means that not everyone infected with HIV automatically has AIDS.
Failure to control HIV infection leads to the declining function of the immune system. Thereby, the earlier that HIV infection is detected, the earlier the care is acquired.
Here are the early symptoms of HIV infection that you should know.
Symptoms of HIV infection appear two to four weeks after contracting the virus.
HIV infection is a flu-like illness and one of its first symptoms is fever. As the virus replicates and moves to the bloodstream, our immune system triggers an inflammatory response that elevates the body’s temperature.
Skin rash normally appears within the first two months of the infection. There are also some cases where the rashes appear at a later stage. They are usually itchy, flattened on an area with small red bumps.
Feeling cold or having chills typically accompanies fever. Chills can be periodic and can last from minutes to even an hour.
Extreme tiredness is a common effect of our immune response to pathogens. You may feel lethargic or suddenly out of breath when doing strenuous activities.
During the early stages of HIV infection, diarrhea and digestive distress can be experienced. A key characteristic of diarrhea for someone who contracted HIV is its chronic nature.
6. Sore throat
While sore throat may suggest other diseases, a persistent sore throat may suggest HIV infection along with other symptoms. It can also be accompanied by oral thrush.
7. Mouth ulcers
Mouth ulcers appear to a person with HIV when the immune system is weakened. These mouth ulcers tend to multiply and impede the intake of food and medication.
8. Night sweats
If you find your clothes and bedsheet soak in sweats, it may be time to see your physician. Even more so, if you experience fever, chills, rashes, and other symptoms.
Night sweats are common in the early stage of the HIV infection as it is an inherent response to the increasing temperature in your internal system.
9. Muscle and joint pain
HIV can infiltrate the muscle tissues and joint fluids. As a response, the immune system triggers soreness which causes pain and even lasting damage.
10. Swollen lymph nodes
A swollen lymph node is an early sign of HIV infection. The virus reaches the lymph nodes through its fluid which results in inflammation.
Getting Tested for HIV
HIV tests are instrumental to early care and control of HIV infection. Likewise, it prevents the further spread of the disease.
During the duration of the treatment, lab tests such as CD4 count and resistance test are normally ordered. But when it comes to diagnosing HIV infection, the easiest is to screen for HIV antigen and antibody which may come in the form of a blood test.
Securing an HIV test could be stressful especially for those who are afraid to be judged because of the condition. Decades ago, people are hesitant to get tested because they don’t want to expose their identities as the stigma about AIDS before was widespread.
Fortunately, nowadays, you can order an HIV Screening Test online that guarantees the confidentiality you desire. Coupled with responsible education about HIV and AIDS, responses toward this disease continue to improve.