What is HIV/AIDS?

There is no shortage of guides about the cause and prevention of HIV/AIDS and yet it is still one of the most common sexually-transmitted diseases in the world. Other STDs also raise the risk of the getting HIV. Unfortunately, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS but the symptoms can be treated early in Singapore so that the person doesn’t suffer from opportunistic illnesses.

Here are the things you need to know about HIV/AIDS.

Sexually-Transmitted Diseases

There are more than 30 different viruses, bacteria and parasites associated with sexually-transmitted diseases according to the World Health Organization. Four STDs are incurable, including herpes simplex virus, hepatitis virus B, human papillomavirus, and HIV. Most of these STDs are spread through sexual contact with another infected person. The diseases can also be passed to newborns from their mother as well as contact through blood and blood products.

STDs increase the risk of getting HIV especially for people who don’t use protection during intimate encounters. If you think you’re experiencing STD symptoms, you should get an STD screening. Most STDs, however, don’t have visible symptoms. You should still consider getting an STD testing especially if you have an active sex life, have had more than one intimate partner or you and your partner are thinking of having a baby.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. As shared by Singapore STD clinic HIV can be acquired through unprotected intimate contact with an infected partner, can be passed down from mother to newborns, and transmitted through contact with an infected blood or blood products. It is a type of sexually transmitted disease that is incurable. Once you are infected, your body will never be able to get rid of the virus.

The virus attacks the CD4 cells. These are white blood cells, also called T-cells, helper cells or T-lymphocytes, that help your immune system fight off infection. They send signals to other immune cells so that your body can start destroying the infection. To determine if you are infected, you need to get a count of CD4 cells.

An infected person has less than 200 CD4 cells. Anything above 500 on the other hand is safe. HIV destroys the CD4 cells while it keeps replicating. HIV itself will not kill the infected person, but it will weaken the immune system so that he/she is susceptible to illnesses and will not be able to recover as fast as a healthy person.

Causes of HIV

The name of the virus and the infection itself is referred to as HIV. HIV is acquired through contact with infected semen, vaginal fluids, and blood. It means that sexual contact isn’t the only way to get the virus. As long as there is direct access to the person’s blood stream, there is risk of getting infected.

There are only three methods to get infected, namely; sexual activity, blood contact, and passing the infection from mother to an unborn baby. You will not get HIV through saliva, skin contact, or exposure to air. A person with HIV cannot transmit the virus by hugging, coughing or sneezing, or by using utensils like drinking cups. The most effective method to determine if you are infected is to undergo an STD screening.

Talk to your doctor about your lifestyle and the symptoms you might be experiencing. There are different types of STD testing that can be done depending on the symptoms you have observed. Each anonymous HIV test in Singapore looks for signs of a specific infection. An HIV test is available in hospitals in Singapore. You can also buy an HIV test kit for use at home.

Diagnosing and Treating HIV

Currently, there are three types of STD screening tests for HIV available in Singapore. These are antibody tests, nucleic acid tests or NATs and a combination of antibody and antigen tests. Before these tests are given, you need to consult with a doctor to determine when you might have been infected. An antibody test is the fastest of the three and can be performed at home using HIV test kits.

It will test for HIV antibodies in the fluid and blood from your mouth. NATs on the other hand is done to look for HIV in your blood. It’s an expensive test which is effective after a period of 7 days from the time you were exposed to the virus. The combination test will look for the HIV antibodies and HIV antigens in the blood.

Remember that the doctor will recommend a follow-up STD test within 3 months regardless of the result. Treatment of HIV involves the prescription of antiretroviral drugs and additional medication for relieving symptoms and preventing opportunistic infections. The antiretroviral drugs prevent the virus from entering the the cells and blocks the enzymes for replicating the virus. Currently, there are 4 types of antiretroviral medications available.

Stages of HIV

There are 3 stages of HIV infection. The treatment will depend on the progress of the virus. The first stage, acute HIV infection, happens 2 to 4 weeks after the person is infected. One of the symptoms mimics flu and it can last for weeks. You have to get an STD testing at this point especially if you suspect that you have contracted an infection. Stage 2 of HIV is called clinical latency or HIV inactivity or dormancy. The virus reproduces slowly and the infected person will not feel any symptoms. The person can still undergo treatment at this stage after an HIV screening. The last stage of HIV is called AIDS.

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

AIDS or acquired immune deficiency syndrome is the most severe form of HIV. By this time, the infected person’s CD4 cells count (a CD4 cell count of below 200 is considered critical) has gone down significantly and he/she is susceptible to a lot of diseases. These diseases are called opportunistic infections, the most common of which is pneumonia. People with AIDs usually have swollen lymph glands, experience weight loss, fever, chills and weakness.