Living with HIV
The progress of medical sciences has managed to beat, or at least control, many diseases that have haunted humanity in the past. One of the most recent epidemic infections that threaten the health of world population is HIV, a virus that affects the immune system and may lead to AIDS.
The dangers of HIV aren't only about the infection itself, that can potentially kill people if they are untreated. Misconceptions and discrimination have always been a big obstacle in fighting HIV. However, fear in these cases can be removed by education, because it is based on things that aren't true. HIV/AIDS have been seen as negative for as long as they have been around, and there is still heavy judgement upon them. Myths have spread that HIV is linked with homosexuality, racial differences and even divine punishment on sinners. These ideas cause people to take distance from the matter in fear, and push away people diagnosed with HIV, making them marginal.
The point here is that HIV is no longer a death sentence. The worse consequences of the infection are the reactions that other people still have towards it. However, from a medical point of view, even though AIDS can't be cured, people with HIV can live for many years with little to no health complications.
There are people diagnosed with HIV since the 1980's who are still alive. Treatment has advanced a lot in the past few decades and currently there are plenty of available drugs that can help control the infection and allow the "HIVers" to live on with a few safety measures.
In most cases, people can live with HIV for up to a whole decade without developing any symptom. This happens because HIV and AIDS aren't the same thing. HIV is the virus and AIDS is the condition caused by it. Unlike other diseases, where the condition takes place at the time of the infection or after a few hours or days of incubation, the virus can be latent for many years inside some cells of your body before starting a replicating process.
When the virus replicates, it clones itself and spreads across the body, affecting the blood cells that fight other diseases. In other words, AIDS is a condition that causes your immune system to fail at fighting third party microbes, now called opportunity infections. This is the real risk of AIDS; HIV alone can do nothing to harm you.
As you can see, the early stages of an infection are the ones less threatening to your health. For this reason, early detection is essential to ensure that you will tackle your condition as effectively as possible, when less to no harm is done to your immune system.
You might be surprised to find out that some doctors recommend not to get actual treatment until a few years after the infection has taken place. However, more and more professionals are starting to stress the importance of early treatment, and there can be no early treatment without early detection.
Two separate blood tests are run on patients to detect HIV and choose the best treatment. One of them will detect the amount of viruses in your bloodstream, while the second one will count and analyze the amount of white cells, which will indicate the state of your immune system.
The more the studies on HIV treatment advance, the more important it becomes to detect your infection before you develop the symptoms. A new HIV research shows promise on a drug that has been used for a while to treat a skin condition that can lead to cancer, which apparently would help in fighting HIV on an early stage of the infection.
As first years of HIV infections are asymtomatic, the only way to detect is is to get tested "just in case". If you have had unprotected sex - including anal, vaginal and oral, and whether you are male or female - or shared syringes, you are at risk of having HIV. Many people don't get tested, either because they would rather tell themselves that there is no way they can have "that thing that is bad", or because they are embarassed to take the test because of prejudice. A good option to surpass this second obstacle is to arrange a private screening through an online clinic, which is confidential and doesn't require a face to face interview at the beginning. If you believe that you might have caught HIV, you can arrange a screen at theSTIclinic.com or any other reliable online clinic.