HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system, weakening the body’s ability to fight off infections and diseases. AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a condition caused by HIV, where the immune system is severely damaged, leaving the body vulnerable to opportunistic infections and cancers.
Symptoms of HIV can vary from person to person, and some people may not experience any symptoms at all in the early stages. Common symptoms may include:
- Swollen glands
- Sore throat
- Muscle and joint pain
- Night sweats
These symptoms can last for a few weeks and are often mistaken for other viral illnesses. After the initial symptoms, some people may not experience any further symptoms for years.
The causes of HIV are primarily through the transmission of bodily fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. HIV can be transmitted through:
- Unprotected sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex
- Sharing needles or syringes for injecting drugs
- From mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding
Effective treatments, such as antiretroviral therapy (ART), can slow down the progression of HIV, prevent or treat opportunistic infections, and improve quality of life. While there is no cure for HIV, with proper treatment, people living with HIV can lead long and healthy lives.