While it is not as major a problem as it is in other countries, HIV is a real problem in the UK. Around 70,000 people have been diagnosed with the disease and it is estimated that a further 20,000 have the disease but do not know it.
One of the difficult aspects of human immunodeficiency virus (otherwise known as HIV) is the fact that one out of five people will show no symptoms of its contraction, contributing to the spread of this disease. Its most common symptom is what is known as acute retro-viral syndrome (ARS); a syndrome accompanied by flu-like symptoms including fever, swollen glands and a sore throat.
Fatigue is commonly present in many cases as the immune system is devoting much of its energy to fighting the infection. This fatigue will also correlate with the swollen lymph nodes and the persistent fever mentioned earlier as well as muscle ache.
Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea will occur in up to sixty percent of sufferers and may be accompanied by weight loss and a general feeling of lethargy. As we have just seen, the signs of HIV are eerily similar to those of the common flu, helping to disguise the disease from its sufferers.
- Flu-like signals including fever and muscle aches.
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Nausea, vomiting and unexplained weight loss.
There have been recent advances in medical technology in the last decade and the methods of treatment for HIV have drastically improved. The obvious first step is to frequent a clinic or hospital that specializes in testing for AIDS. While AIDS is considered the full-blown form of HIV, antibodies in the bloodstream will quickly determine whether someone is HIV positive or not. If they are indeed infected, the first step will be to undergo treatment with what are known as anti retro-viral drugs.
This class of medication attempts to interrupt the HIV pathogen during several different stages of its life cycle. The ultimate goal is to prevent the virus from further compromising the immune system. This therapy has become more refined in the last few years and the drugs administered are less damaging to the body than they once were.
As there is currently no cure for HIV, many physicians opt for what is known viral management. The ultimate goal is to prevent HIV from weakening the immune system to the point where death will occur as a result of another infection such as influenza or pneumonia.
Current treatment options:
- Proper detection of the HIV organism.
- Administration of a combination of AVR drugs.
- Preventing HIV from compromising the immune system and causing a potentially deadly infection.