One in seven Americans have HIV but don’t know it. Although there have been great advances in medicines to manage HIV symptoms, the disease is still a great concern in the US. Almost 40,000 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2016, and there’s still no cure. Infectious disease specialist Sarfraz A. Choudhary, MD, FACP, at Infectious Diseases Tropical Medicine and Travel Clinic in Lansdowne, Virginia, has over 15 years’ experience treating infectious diseases, including HIV. If you’d like a test or treatment for HIV, call for an appointment or make one online.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. HIV is a virus that attacks your body’s immune system, making it difficult to fight off infections and other illnesses. Specifically, it attacks CD4 cells, also known as T cells.
There are three stages of HIV, with AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) being the last and most severe stage. There is no cure for HIV, but if you catch it and treat it early or treat it effectively and regularly with antiviral drugs, you can live a long, healthy life — about as long as someone without HIV. With the right treatment, your HIV never develops into AIDS.
HIV is spread primarily through the exchange of bodily fluids during sex. In fact, about 90% of cases are spread through sex. You can also get it through sharing needles for drug use, and infected mothers can pass it on to their babies during pregnancy or childbirth.
You can’t catch HIV by hugging, shaking hands, sharing a fork, or using the same bathroom as an infected person. It’s important to get regularly tested if you’re not in a monogamous sexual relationship.
HIV symptoms differ from person to person and stage to stage. Often after a person is first infected, they develop flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, sore throat, and muscle aches within two to four weeks. These symptoms can last from a few days to a few weeks. Some people have no symptoms during the first and the second stages of the disease.
The length of each stage varies from person to person. If you think you’ve been infected, call Dr. Choudhary for an HIV test. The only way to diagnose HIV is a blood test.
The good news is that since scientists identified HIV in the 1980s, the medical community has made numerous breakthroughs in HIV treatments. Once thought to be a death sentence, the disease is now managed by the drugs prescribed to treat symptoms and reduce the risks of spreading the disease. Thanks to these drugs, people infected with HIV can live a long, healthy and active life.
There are several classes of drugs for HIV, and each class treats the virus in different ways. Dr. Choudhary usually prescribes a combination of drugs to most effectively manage your HIV.
To learn more, call or make an appointment online today.