Here's a refresher course on HIV and the drugs that can help manage it
As indicated by the name - human immunodeficiency virus - the virus attacks the immune system and makes the body more vulnerable to diseases.
As indicated by the name - human immunodeficiency virus - the virus attacks the immune system and makes the body more vulnerable to diseases like tuberculosis and even cancer
In 2017, there were 36.9 million people living with HIV in the world - of this number, 2.1 million were in India
It is important to differentiate between an HIV-positive status and a diagnosis of AIDS: a condition that indicates stage 3 HIV when the body’s immune system is heavily compromised
The first human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, infection is thought to have occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1920s, though awareness around the virus only grew after the 1980s. Today, HIV infection is notorious for being the cause of one of the deadliest diseases on earth - AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
As indicated by the name - human immunodeficiency virus - the virus attacks the immune system and makes the body more vulnerable to diseases like tuberculosis and even cancer. In 2017, 36.9 million people were living with HIV in the world - of this number, 2.1 million were in India.
It is important to differentiate between an HIV-positive status and a diagnosis of AIDS: a condition that indicates stage 3 HIV when the body’s immune system is heavily compromised.
Here’s a quick look at what we know about HIV today.
Types of HIV
HIV is of two types, HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1, the most common type of HIV, is far more dangerous than HIV-2. It occurs all over the world, and 95% of people living with HIV have HIV-1.
HIV-2, which was prevalent in West Africa, has also begun to spread to other regions like the United States, Europe, and India now. HIV-2 has a lower transmission risk compared with HIV-1. According to a 2013 review published in the Journal of Global Infectious Diseases, heterosexual sex is the most common mode of HIV-2 transmission. The study also revealed that the heterosexual transmission rates for HIV-2 are two to five times lower than HIV-1, while the same is 20-30 times lower from a mother to a baby.
HIV is a permanent infection as the medical world has yet to find a cure for it. But with medication, HIV-positive people can live a full life and people with AIDS can prolong life by up to three years.
Drugs for managing HIV
There was a time when an HIV-positive diagnosis meant social abandonment and death, but not anymore.
Antiretroviral therapy: HIV-positive patients can lead a healthy and long life with the help of antiretroviral therapy or ART, the HIV medicine. For HIV/AIDS patients, ART can increase their chances of survival to about three years (without the therapy, patients rarely live beyond one year).
PEP and PrEP: Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) methods prevent the spread of HIV infections through intercourse and used needles. PrEP is an HIV prevention method. People who don’t have HIV can take Truvada (a combination of two medicines emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate in one pill) daily to reduce their risk of getting HIV. A once-daily dose of PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV infection through sex by 90%. Among people who inject drugs, it reduces the risk by more than 70%. That said, it is always wise to use condoms while having sex - even if one is taking PrEP.
In case of possible exposure to HIV, PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis can prevent the virus from taking hold of the body. However, it will only work if you start this short course of medicine within 72 hours after being exposed to HIV. Be alert and act fast.
PEP is only meant for emergencies and not meant for regular use by people who may be exposed to HIV frequently.
With HIV medicine, people with AIDS typically survive for about three years. Those who start ART soon after they get HIV, experience more benefits.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health. To know more on this topic, please visit https://www.myupchar.com/en/disease/hiv-aids
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