What is HIV/AIDS?

What is HIV/AIDS?
Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV/AIDS weakens a person’s ability to fight infections. It is contracted through unprotected sex or needle sharing. An HIV test confirms diagnosis. Medications may suppress the virus and delay the onset of AIDS.

Without treatment, HIV infection will get worse over time and eventually overwhelm your immune system.

Symptoms of Acute HIV Infection
Most people don’t know right away when they’ve been infected with HIV, but a short time later, they may have symptoms. This is when your body’s immune system puts up a fight, typically within 2 to 6 weeks after you’ve gotten the virus. It’s called acute retroviral syndrome or primary HIV infection.

The symptoms are similar to those of other viral illnesses, and they’re often compared to the flu. They typically last a week or two and then completely go away. They include:

  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Aching muscles
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • A red rash that doesn’t itch, usually on your torso
  • Fever

Doctors can now prevent HIV from taking hold in your body if they act quickly. People who may have been infected – for example, had unprotected sex with someone who is HIV-positive – can take anti-HIV drugs to protect themselves. This is called Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). But you must start the process within 72 hours of when you were exposed, and the medicines can have unpleasant side effects.

Take Action!
Lighthouse Guild provides a full spectrum of vision and healthcare services helping people who are blind or visually impaired. As part of our Medical Services we offer diagnosis and full treatment and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), as well as other healthcare services important to people with HIV/AIDS. If you are a GuildNet member, talk with your Care Manager about the services available to you.