Discovered in the 1980s in Western and Central Africa, HIV is a virus and at the same time an infection. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is a virus that gets into the bloodstream and slowly attacks the human immune system. The immune system is a naturally occurring system in the body that fights infections.
HIV weakens the immune system by destroying white blood cells in the immune system. These blood cells are referred to as the CD4 cells. As the virus exists in the blood, it makes copies of itself with time. It gets into the host cells and lowers the ability for the body to fight other opportunistic infections. The lower the number of CD4 cells, the weaker the body becomes.
Stages of HIV Infection
Yes, you can live with HIV. Having HIV does not mean that you will die. The following are stages of HIV that you can live with.
This is the first stage of HIV infection. If you contract HIV, this is the stage where there is high reproduction of the virus. People living in this stage can transmit the virus easily. The virus gets into the CD4 cells and causes flu-like symptoms.
During this stage of the virus, the infected individual will begin displaying serious symptoms, called acute retroviral syndrome, within 2 to 4 weeks. Symptoms in this stage include severe headache, pain in muscles and joints, fever, mouth pain, sore throat, and rashes.
Latency stage comes after the acute stage of infection. After acute stage, the reproduction rate of the virus reduces. However, the virus continues being active in the body. If the patient takes antiretroviral medications, there are no symptoms in this stage.
People living in this stage who are taking their medication have reduced rate of transmitting the infection. A person in this stage can live up to 10 years without any symptoms.
This is the last and most dangerous stage for those not under treatment. This is a period where the immune system is extremely weakened, leaving the body at risk for many infections. During this stage, the number of CD4 cells reduces. If you are not taking your medication you can live up to 3 years in this stage.
When combating HIV, one is advised to have a strict diet that will ensure better health and better chances of fighting opportunistic diseases. HIV and diet are inextricably linked. Proper diet provides nutrients that your body requires to fight diseases. Boosting your immune system is essential for living a longer life with HIV.
Diet also helps you when taking medication. These anti-retroviral drugs are powerful and overwhelming. One is advised to eat properly before taking medication. This helps you cope with the fatigue that comes from the system trying to assimilate the drug to your body.
You are advised to make sure that your diet consists of:
1. Fruits and vegetable that are known to provide fiber and vitamins.
2. Carbohydrates of starchy nature that include potatoes, whole meal pasta, whole meal flour, and rice.
3. Proteins that are contained in lean meat, fish, eggs, and kidney beans.
4. Dairy products.
5. Small amounts of sugar and fats.
Though the drugs given do not cure aids, they help in boosting the immune system and slow the spreading process at a considerably impressive rate when taken properly. Earlier drugs were known to have some really adverse effects, but nowadays the problem is no longer persistent. If you find that your medication makes you ill or suffer side-effects, you should talk to your doctor about changing the medicines to something your body can handle.
Taking these drugs every day is important as it maintains a consistent immune strength.
Exercise is vital as it helps you strengthen your bones, burn excess fat, and keep you healthy enough to cope with the drugs and their effects. Exercising also helps you increase your stamina and feel more vibrant.
Positivity goes a long way to alleviate problems caused by neglect and loss of self-worth. Set some goals to accomplish things. This will give you purpose and reason to live a longer and more fulfilling life. You can exploit your potential far better with a positive mind. A negative state of mind will only serve to crush your spirit.
Quit Bad Habits
It is advisable to quit doing things that are harmful to you or your health. For example, you may have been a smoker before you became infected. It is not good to carry these habits when you are living with HIV as they only drag you down. Quit smoking, drinking, and get plenty of rest.
Factors Affecting Development of HIV
If you are living with HIV, it is important to know some of the factors that accelerate or slow down progression of the infection to AIDS. This helps you to manage yourself and increases the years you can live with the infection.
Factors Speeding Progression of HIV to AIDS
- Poor nutrition
- HIV subtype
- Genetic make-up of the victim
- Old age
- Co-infections such as hepatitis C
Factors Slowing Down Progression of HIV to AIDS
- Regular HIV care
- Steady antiretroviral therapy
- A healthy diet
- Genetic make-up
- Following the doctor’s instructions
The Bottom Line
HIV can be diagnosed in different stages. This is because people can live with the infection without knowing they have the infection. You are advised to take regular tests to ensure that if you do get it, you will be able to combat the infection effectively. Anyone can live with HIV irrespective of the stage it is diagnosed. There can be severe symptoms and opportunistic infections. Following your treatment and living healthy helps you live longer. After diagnosis, it is advisable that you start taking the medicines, keep a rigorous diet, and exercise plenty.
Living a long life with HIV is absolutely possible if the proper actions are taken to combat the virus. As a matter of fact, after being diagnosed with the first stage of HIV at the age of 21, it is possible to live for more than 50 more years with proper care for your body.