If you have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), you’re unlikely to experience any symptoms, so unless you know you have the infection, you won’t realize you’re sick. If you are at risk of exposure to HIV or were exposed, Alka Rebentish, MD, and Chukwudum Uche, MD, FIDSA, FACP, at Infectious Disease Associates & Travel Medicine Clinic can help. Getting tested regularly if you’re sexually active or a drug user is vital, so call the clinic in Las Vegas, Nevada, today or schedule a consultation using the online tool.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a sexually transmitted disease that affects your immune system. The virus attacks cells in the immune system called CD4 or T cells, which play a vital role in helping your body fight off infection.
As HIV progresses, it kills off so many T cells that your body is unable to defend itself against infections like pneumonia and illnesses like cancers.
When you reach the stage where you’ve lost so many T cells to HIV that you’re developing multiple infections, you’ve reached the final stage of the disease, which is AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
There’s no cure for HIV or AIDS, so once you contract the disease, you have it forever. However, with expert treatment from Infectious Disease Associates & Travel Medicine Clinic, you can live a long and healthy life with HIV.
When you first contract HIV, you might not have any symptoms at all, or you might experience flu-like symptoms for a couple of weeks. You can’t tell from these symptoms that you have HIV – there’s no way to know if you have HIV without undergoing testing.
Once the acute phase passes, you enter stage 2, which is called clinical latency. This means the HIV is far less active, and only reproducing at very low levels. Stage 2 can last for 10 years or more before the virus becomes active again.
Once the virus starts multiplying more quickly, symptoms begin to develop. These can include:
You receive a diagnosis of AIDS if your T cell count drops below 200 cells/mm or if you develop certain illnesses typical of AIDS. Unless you receive treatment, your life expectancy, once you have AIDS, is about three years.
If you test positive for HIV, Infectious Disease Associates & Travel Medicine Clinic can put you on a course of antiretroviral therapy (ART). If you use these drugs as prescribed, the levels of HIV in your body fall significantly and can become undetectable.
When this happens, you can lead a normal, healthy life and live nearly as long as someone who doesn’t have HIV.
The best way to prevent HIV infection is to avoid high-risk activities, which include unprotected sex – particularly anal sex – and sharing needles when injecting drugs.
If you’re at risk of contracting HIV, Infectious Disease Associates & Travel Medicine Clinic can provide you with pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) treatment. PrEP involves taking daily medication to help prevent HIV from growing and spreading in your body.
PrEP is up to 99% effective in preventing HIV in anyone who’s at risk. If your partner has HIV – particularly if they have a detectable or unknown viral load – you should consider taking PrEP to protect yourself.
To benefit from the latest HIV treatments and preventive therapies, call Infectious Disease Associates & Travel Medicine Clinic today or book an appointment online.