Is HIV curable if caught early?
There is no cure for HIV yet. Antiretroviral treatment can, however, control the infection limiting the virus multiplication in the body. With proper treatment, people with HIV can lead long and healthy lives. Treatment lowers the viral load (concentration of the virus in the blood), which not only protects the person from progressing into an advanced stage of the disease but also reduces the chances of transmission of the virus to others.
It is important to get tested for HIV in the early stages of infection to minimize the damage to the immune system. Successful treatment aims to reduce HIV load to a level that is harmless to the body. However, some of the viruses may persist. Trials are underway for getting a safe and effective HIV vaccine.
Can HIV be cured naturally?
HIV cannot be treated or managed without proper medical therapy. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as a person is exposed to a potential risk of HIV infection. This will facilitate early diagnosis and treatment. It can be dangerous to seek non-scientific and unapproved treatment approaches as it may lead to disease progression. This will make the management more difficult and may even lead to fatal complications.
Are HIV and AIDS the same?
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. If someone has HIV, it means that they have been diagnosed with the HIV infection. AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome); however, is the most advanced or final stage of the HIV infection and is characterized by:
- A damaged immune system with low CD4 cells (a type of white blood cells that fight infections) counts in the blood.
- High HIV load (viral concentration) in the blood.
- Opportunistic infections: These are infections that occur more frequently or are more severe in people with weakened immune systems than in people with healthy immune systems.
- In the absence of treatment, people with AIDS rarely survive beyond three years.
The symptoms of AIDS are:
- Rapid loss of weight
- Sore throat
- Thrush (a thick, white coating on the tongue or mouth due to a fungal infection)
- Severe and recurrent yeast infections
- Genital sores and foul discharge
- Frequent infections
- Bruising more easily than normal
- Night sweats
- Cough with or without blood in sputum
- Swellings in the neck, armpits and groins (lymph nodes)
- Mouth ulcers
- Skin rashes
- Bleeding from the mouth, nose, anus, or vagina
Can the spread of HIV from the mother to the baby be prevented during pregnancy?
If the mother is HIV positive, mother to child transmission during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding is possible. This spread of infection from the mother to her child is called perinatal transmission of HIV. The rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV is one percent or less in the United States and Europe, due to treatment strategies. These strategies are:
- Giving antiretroviral therapy (ART) to the mother: HIV medicines prevent the virus from multiplying. This reduces the amount of HIV in the body (the viral load). The decreased viral load minimizes the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV during pregnancy and childbirth. Besides reducing the mother’s viral load, some HIV medicines can pass from the pregnant woman to her unborn baby through the placenta. This protects the baby from any exposure to HIV, especially during vaginal delivery.
- Cesarean delivery: A scheduled or elective cesarean delivery can reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in women who have a high or unknown viral load near the time of delivery.
- HIV medicines for the baby: ART initiated in the newborn soon after birth further reduces the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, post-delivery.
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