HIV: The History, Stages, and What You Can Do to Get Tested - COVID-19 Clinical Trial
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HIV: The History, Stages, and What You Can Do to Get Tested

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    Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV, is a virus transmitted through certain fluids such as blood or semen which attacks one’s immune system. The virus attacks CD4 cells, also known as T cells, which are cells that help a person’s immune system fight off infections and disease. Without these cells, a person can become infected more easily with diseases or infected-related cancer, leading to the last stage of HIV infection, AIDS. 

    Where Did HIV Come From? 

    The virus comes from a species of chimpanzee in Central Africa. Simian Immunodeficiency Virus, also known as SIV, is “the chimpanzee version” of HIV. SIV is said to have been “transmitted to humans and mutated into HIV” when hunters encountered the chimps’ infected blood. As early as the 1800s, the virus was transmitted from apes to humans, with the virus continuing to spread decades later across not only Africa but other parts of the world. 

    What are the Stages of HIV? 

    1. Acute HIV Infection is the first stage of HIV. People may be unaware they are infected with the virus as they may show no symptoms of being sick. Usually within the first 2-4 weeks, a person infected will have flu-like symptoms.
       
    2. Clinical latency (HIV inactivity or dormancy) is the 2nd stage of HIV. This stage is also known as “asymptomatic HIV or chronic HIV infection.” HIV is still active, but the virus is reproducing in low amounts. Little to no symptoms can be seen during this stage. If a person is taking ART, they may stay in this stage for decades to come. However, if a person is not being treated during this stage, they may stay in this stage for only a couple of years or may progress to AIDS.
       
    3. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the 3rd stage of HIV. With the immune system extremely damaged, a person will experience many illnesses attacking their body, also known as “opportunistic illnesses.” Chills, fever, sweats, swollen lymph glands, and weight loss are common symptoms of AIDS. If a person with AIDS is not treated, they are expected to live for approximately 3 years. 

    In 1920, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo experienced an HIV global pandemic. From there, the virus spread through travel via migrants and the sex trade. The virus was spread from Africa to Haiti and the Caribbean in the 1960s, eventually moving to New York City and San Francisco. Through international traveling, the virus continued to spread to more parts of the world, with more and more people becoming infected. 

    More than 70 million people have been infected with HIV and about 35 million people have passed away from AIDS. Areas affected by HIV and AIDS include the United States, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. Sub-Saharan Africa is said to account for more than half of all new HIV infections. 

    HIV is treatable but not curable. Once a person has been diagnosed with the virus, they have it for a lifetime. HIV is treated with a medicine called antiretroviral therapy also known as ART. Through ART, HIV can become undetectable, allowing people to live longer and healthier lives, having no risk of transmitting the virus to someone else. 

    To get tested for the HIV infection you can do one of the following: 

    • Visit gettested.cdc.gov 
    • 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) 
    • At Home: testing kits can be found in pharmacies and online 

    For more information you can visit: https://www.helpstopthevirus.com/  

    By: Ashley Pure 

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