Once you have been infected with HIV, it is imperative that you receive treatment. The medication used for HIV is called the antiretroviral therapy or ART. It helps in slowing down or preventing the progression of the infection from stage one to two to three, given of course that it is taken properly. It also helps in reducing the risk of spreading the virus.
Three Stages Of HIV Infection:
Stage 1 | Acute HIV infection
Stage one is within two to four weeks of being infected with HIV. The symptoms include a flu-like illness that may last long or a few weeks which is the body’s natural response to infection. During this stage, an infected person has a significant amount of virus in his blood and is at high risk of transmitting to others. However, being undiagnosed yet, an infected person is often unaware that he already has HIV as it may show symptoms of feeling sick, and sometimes not. If you are feeling ill and have previously engaged in unprotected sex, drug use using a syringe, or you know that you were exposed to someone who has it, you need to undergo a fourth-generation or nucleic acid (NAT) test.
Stage 2 | Clinical Latency
Clinical latency is also known as the asymptomatic HIV infection or chronic HIV infection, and during this stage, the reproduction or spreading of the HIV is slowed down but is still active. A person infected may not show any signs of illness, and this stage can last a decade or even longer for people who are not getting treatment. People who are getting proper treatment, however, may be in clinical latency for more than a few decades more. Nonetheless, it is imperative to be cautious as HIV can still be transmitted to others during this stage. In the late part of the clinical latency, the virus inside the body rises, and the CD4 cells or the white blood cells that perform a vital role in the immune system starts to decrease. Symptoms begin to show which indicates the progression to the next or final stage.
Stage 3 | Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
The final stage and most severe stage of HIV infection is the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or commonly called AIDS. Once a person is on this stage, the virus already damaged the immune system significantly that he is prone to severe diseases which are called opportunistic illnesses. The symptoms of AIDS are fever, chills, sweats, swollen lymph glands, weakness, and weight loss. People without the proper treatment could last about three years, and at this stage, the virus is highly infectious.
Until now, there is still a misconception about HIV. People think that HIV is AIDS which is not. Well, not yet. People should know that a person infected with HIV does not die right away or any time soon especially if he gets proper treatment. AIDS is the last stage the infection at which point symptoms are already noticeable, and although a person could still survive several years given the appropriate treatment, it is crucial that people understand HIV is a highly contagious illness that’s why precaution is a must especially when there is exposure to the virus.