What does HIV do to you, Claudio, "That's what you need to understand," a doctor told me on a sad, dark, gloomy afternoon nearly a quarter of a century ago.
Unfortunately and eventually, When HIV infection is left untreated, it still progresses to AIDS.
She, the Life; and she, AIDS, was not so prolific with me, it is true, because certain things, in those days and nights of lead, were not even dreamed.
And, in a way, this text will tell you, more than I heard that afternoon, because a lot of it only came a little, long or long after 1994, 1995, 1996 and so on!…
And starting with what goes well below is a good start.
HIV and system immune
Your immune system should protect you from viruses and other infections. Why, then, doesn't protect you from HIV?
The answer is complicated, I know that, but essentially, it's because HIV destroys cells CD4, which direct this same immune response from the immune system (another name for the same thing).
This destruction of cells CD4 (and several other processes we are gradually learning about) hinder the proper functioning of the immune system.
Your immune system will be too damaged to defend itself from various cancers and infections., daily called opportunistic diseases, life-threatening to you or whoever is really infected with HIV and who, without treatment, evolves… into AIDS!
But keep in mind that you don't have to panic if you get a reagent because there is life with HIV! I have been in this fight for almost 25 years!
WOW, gave me six months to live that night!
Life with HIV, a hard way! But long !!! And that's good!!!
The number of CD4 cells in the bloodstream - your CD4 count - It is one of the most important measures of the immune strength of people with HIV.
In the past, we have painted a fairly straightforward picture of HIV infection:
HIV infects and destroys CD4 cells, causing the CD4 count to decrease. We now realize that this description of events is oversimplified.
It's true that HIV infects and directly kills CD4 cells. However and yet, HIV causes much of its damage in more indirect ways. I even remember talking to my medical Infectologist, the one I trusted the most, ANA than AIDS itself, the gradual, gradual and gradual fall, is only, and only, the “tip of the iceberg” of the chain of events. that occur and undermine your health while you live with HIV!
Constant Immune Activation
The efforts of the immune to fight the virus put him in a state of immune activation, or inflammatory process (constant inflammation and that's not good, obviously, because it's being sick in one way or another all the time from day one!
Guys, I know how it is. I've been grinding this thing, which never stops coming up with more "grains" since 1994! It sucks!
Over time, prolonged inflammation can increase a person's risk of heart attacks and lead to other damage such as AVCmyocardial infarction
And also different and varied types of cancers, linked directly, as opportunistic diseases, the presence of HIV.
Such as the Kaposi's sarcoma and Hodgkins Lymphoma and non-Hodgkins lymphomas, such as Burkitt's lymphoma, which in one way or another, affect your quality of life, undermining your physical, mental and emotional health.
I have learned that there is a difference between mental health and emotional health and, with so much damage, caused directly by HIV.
As well as others, linked to aging, associated with your body's biological impairment factors, andu tell you please use the condom if possible even within marriage, An extra tip I give to married women !!! Pay attention!
The stages of HIV infection
- When HIV infection is not treated with antiretroviral drugsThe course of the disease usually moves through several phases.
- Na primary infection (also called acute infection), HIV is established throughout the body.
- Within a few weeks, in the overwhelming and normal majority of cases, the immune system develops antibodies against the virus - a process known as seroconversion.
- The infection enters a chronicle phase. During this phase, a person may have no symptoms, only mild symptoms or severe symptoms.
- If left untreated, HIV infection progresses until the immune system is too weak to defend itself from life-threatening infections and cancers.
This stage is called the AIDS. This is where things start to get complicated!
Around the year two thousand I read a story in a magazine specializing in politics talk, with the property that a shrimp would talk about a constellation in Andromeda, which “the beginning of the end would be when a CD4 count around 500 is reached. Note that the expression “around” is my wedge, as they seem to have failed to clarify this point. Well, a lot of people panicked.
Sig, my infection of the time, had cleared this for me; You know, aside from the paspanata who took care of me in the nursing home and the other, who had the damn deity syndrome, I was always happy to find doctors! It's too efficient to be isolated from an inconvenient person! It is no use being a good professional, that Flor was neither “flower” than sheire (“S”), and yet arrogant! Of this quality she had megatons left! To the hell with her !!!
However, the course of HIV infection is not a one-way street. In addition to preventing the development of life-threatening illnesses, anti-HIV drugs can halt the disease's progress and allow the immune system to rebuild even in people with very serious illnesses.
During the first stage of HIV infection, the viral load is high and CD4 count decreases.
Since the body produces anti-HIV antibodies (seroconversion), viral load decreases and CD4 count returns to a more normal level.
During the first stage of HIV infection, called primary or acute infection, the virus travels from the point of infection - usually the genital tissues or the bloodstream - to the lymph nodes.
This process takes a few days. When HIV is inside the lymph nodes, it replicates, makes copies of itself using CD4 cells very quickly, and releases a large amount of new new viruses. (virion is a medical / scientific expression meaning the same thing) in the bloodstream.
This rapid “demographic” burst of HIV usually lasts two to three months. During primary infection, the amount of HIV in the blood ( viral load) It is too high. This makes people very infectious during the primary infection and is usually a time when the vast majority of people even suspect being infected!
They may have no or very few symptoms, and standard HIV tests may not detect HIV infection at this early stage for up to 30 days, up to four weeks, so to speak.
During this time, there is usually a sharp but only temporary drop in the number of CD4 cells. The body also begins to produce large numbers of cells. CD8. These CD8 cells produce natural substances that help shut down or destroy HIV-infected cells, thereby helping to reduce the amount of virus in the blood.
Some people experience flu-like symptoms two to four weeks after their first contact with HIV.
This may include one or more of the following signs:
- sore throat
- unexpected tiredness or lack of energy
- swollen lymph nodes,
- joint and muscle pain
However, many people do not experience any symptoms when first infected.
As the immune system learns to recognize and fight HIV, it begins to produce Antibodies for HIV.
This process, known as seroconversion, usually occurs within two to four weeks after infection. Seroconversion is important because the best test we have to know if you have been infected with HIV is HIV antibody test.
The Search for Antibodies
This test does not specifically look for HIV; instead, it looks for the antibodies that your immune system produces in response to HIV infection. Although HIV antibody testing is very good at detecting HIV, it may not give an accurate result until four weeks after infection. (The exact amount of time depends on the specific test being used.)
There are new HIV tests that look for the virus, not antibodies. These tests are able to detect infections earlier - as soon as two weeks after infection. Even when these latest tests are used, they are usually accompanied by an HIV antibody test to confirm the result.
Seroconversion indicates that the immune system has learned to control partially - but not completely - the movements of the infection.
At this point, very high levels of virus in the blood drop slightly and the CD4 count returns to a more normal level. This signals the beginning of the next phase of infection - the chronic phase.
Once the body begins to produce anti-HIV antibodies, HIV infection begins a phase of chronic infection.
If left untreated, the level of HIV in the blood eventually increases and the CD4 count decreases slightly each day.
After primary infection and seroconversion, HIV infection enters a chronic, long-term phase. During this time, the virus continues to replicate even if there are no obvious signs or symptoms of infection. As this phase progresses, CD4 counts gradually decrease (although they may remain stable for many years) and symptoms tend to worsen.
Although specificities may vary widely among individuals, untreated chronic HIV infection usually progresses from symptoms - or asymptomatic to symptomatic and finally to a stage where life-threatening infections are likely and possible.
Asymptomatic means no symptoms.
Many people with HIV may have little or no signs or symptoms of the disease for up to 10 years! During this time, the only evidence of HIV infection can come from laboratory tests: measurable blood levels of HIV and a blood count. CD4 below from normal.
However, even when there are no apparent signs or symptoms of HIV, the virus can be damaging the body in less obvious ways.
As your body actively fights an infection, such as HIV infection, immune cells produce high levels of messenger molecules called cytokines, which signal "alerts" for other immune cells to take action.
This "on" state is the immune activation ou inflammation.
The Consequences of Increased Immune Activity
Most infections last only for a limited time, after which most immune cells return to their normal "resting" or "inactive" state, according to scientists and health professionals, my warlike view of things would say alertness, vigilance. and patrolling.
Chronic HIV infection, however, throws the immune system into a persistent state of inflammation. Almost a state of siege. This can be harmful in many ways.
First, HIV infects activated CD4 cells more easily, so an activated immune system gives the virus more cells to infect.
Prolonged immune activation also shortens the life of CD4 cells and possibly, says the text, other immune cells. It can slowly damage blood vessels, increasing a person's risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke. “Stroke”).
It can accelerate the pace of liver damage in people with viral hepatitis and damage bones, kidneys and other parts of the body.
Most people living with untreated HIV will eventually develop more obvious symptoms. Some individuals lucky ones they continue to have normal CD4 counts and no symptoms for much longer - perhaps throughout the normal life of these cells.
These rare individuals are called long-term nonprogressors ou elite controllers. It is not an enviable condition, as the author of the original text makes it seem.
On the other hand, in some people, HIV infection can progress much faster, causing symptoms and significant decreases in the presence of CD4 cells in just a few years.
Over time, untreated HIV gradually causes increasing damage and the body's defenses weaken. At some point, symptoms of HIV infection begin to appear.
This can vary greatly between individuals, both in the time it takes to develop and the types of problems that occur.
Some of the most common symptoms include chronic fatigue, unexpected weight loss, diarrhea, fever, night sweats and skin problems.
This stage is associated with the development of HIV-related infections, such as candida fungal infection, which causes candidiasis (Amarilis was diagnosed like this…) in the mouth or throat and vaginal candidiasis in the vagina.
Usually (though not always), The first infections and symptoms to appear are not serious or life-threatening..
They serve as warning signs that the immune system is significantly damaged and that HIV disease will continue to worsen unless treated.
Life-threatening infections and AIDS
If the immune system is damaged too much, it makes HIV-positive people vulnerable to infections that a healthy immune system could easily control.
In general, these infections can be very serious or life-threatening. They are called opportunistic infections.
I (the author of the text) was diagnosed at the hospital. I was really sick and didn't know what was going on.
So they did an HIV test and I tested positive.
I was in terrible shape. My CD4 count was 33 and my viral load was half a million. I had pneumonia (PCP). (statements by the author of the text and not mine, the translator).
Some of them, such as oral yeast infections, may be relatively minor and easy to treat (although even oral yeast infections can become very serious in people whose immune system is weak).
Other opportunistic diseases that can also lead to serious complications and can be fatal if the immune system is weak include PCP (Pneumocystis pneumonia), MAC (Mycobacterium Avium Complex), Toxo (Toxoplasmosis gondii), tuberculosis and CMV (cytomegalovirus). Certain types of cancers, such as certain lymphomas, are also more common in people with HIV.
CD4 and Opportunistic Diseases
The risk of life-threatening infections is usually closely linked to the CD4 count: a person's risk of developing many opportunistic infections increases when the CD4 count falls below 200 cells.
For a person whose CD4 count is low, medications to prevent and treat opportunistic infections are crucial. They are called chemoprophylaxis.
The term AIDS describes the most serious stage of HIV infection when the immune system is severely damaged and life-threatening infections set in. AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome:
- Acquired It means that the condition is not inherited - you get (get) at some point in your life.
- Immune deficiency It is a weakness in your immune system.
- The syndrome It is a combination of symptoms and / or diseases.
In Canada (the origin of this text is Canadian), AIDS is diagnosed when a person with HIV develops one or more opportunistic infections or cancers that define AIDS.
HIV need not necessarily lead to AIDS
Fortunately, HIV infection does not necessarily lead to AIDS. Antiretroviral drugs may slow or interrupt the effects of the virus on the immune system. Even people who have had serious illnesses that define AIDS can usually recover and stay healthy with proper care. This is good news because the word AIDS It's scary. This goes back to the time when the progression of HIV disease was almost inevitable:
People contracted HIV, developed AIDS, and then died..
Things have changed a lot since then.
For people with HIV who receive proper care, with regular medical appointments, who take their medications as directed and remain healthy, and AIDS is no longer a perennial concern once you start treating yourself.
Test yourself! Worth knowing
The words we use to describe HIV have been changed to reflect this new reality. Medical problems resulting from HIV infection are now often referred to as HIV disease ou chronic HIV infection.
These terms can be used to describe the condition of someone being treated or not and regardless of whether they have been diagnosed with AIDS.
The study "START”Changed the view of beginning treatment to as soon as diagnosed and the author's expression of the text may seem blurred, but it refers to me as just a way of expressing the author.
Don't lose faith, don't give up on yourself or have hope!
There is no reason for HIV infection to inevitably lead to serious illness or death.
Proper treatment can prevent HIV from causing serious illness.
Treatment can also help people improve their health and stay healthy even if they have already become ill with HIV-related infections.
In addition to treatment, there are many other factors that also affect the speed with which HIV disease progresses.
These include the following:
- the strength of the virus you are infected with
- How strong your immune system responds to virus
- of smoking
- illicit drug use
- Mental stress (and how this stress is handled)
- other infections such as hepatitis B or C
Some of these factors are not controllable, but others are.
You may not be able to change your age. And how we wish it!
I and the author agree well on this point !!!!!
But you can do something about how well you eat and consume tobacco or use illicit drugs.
Unfortunately, some people do not find out they are HIV positive until they have lived with the virus for many years, even under the impact of very serious diseases.
Boys… and Girls I saw!
I, Claudio, met people who were diagnosed at very difficult times in their lives!
With diagnoses of serious diseases that survived and are doing well, but I also met people who were not HIV-positive, but relatives of hospitalized people with HIV, often in ICUs, with serious illnesses, for which I saw no hope and, I preferred to wait for the progress of the facts and saw, deplorably unhappy, that my fears were correct… .. 🙁 🙁 🙁
I have often failed to conduct myself before these people, and now I understand these things better. It is forward that one lives.
And yet, I saw, too, scared people, who sent me, a complete stranger, pictures of themselves, in tears, scared and scared.
In fear and, thank God, I saw them recover, gain weight, trust and follow their destiny.
And, I know, and I know well, that your diagnosis may be the result of a serious HIV-related illness that catches you by surprise.
And yes, I know, it's Scary, if you are seeing this blog on a Smartphone in a hospital bed, try to calm down.
Although there are many works like this blog, Soropositivo.Org, I already said that There Living with HIV, on the internet, in the year 2000 and, yes, this is all very complicated, but I have shown that there is life with HIV since that date.
This should help you understand that there is no doubt!
If I could survive for almost three years without treatment and all the while taking the treatment, which when it started was a liver punch, today, to me, it's small coffee! And for you, I have no doubt! It will be too.
And no one can say the same thing, from a personal job, still online!
There are other works that I will never be able to do, in the material, personal field, seems not to have this idea of God, up there and yes, I know:
Everything is as God wishes
Resilience is indeed a daily construction. And I insist, I persist, and I urge you to believe, "There is life with HIV." You can bet your neck and all that!
I would not say it if it were not so !!!
Count on me today, and always, within my natural limitations to all this history and baggage, seeking me through this channel.
Well, I say, infections can usually be treated.
Most people who develop a serious HIV-related disease and do not take antiretroviral drugs should start treatment as soon as possible to strengthen their immune system to fight the disease and prevent future infections.
People who are positive while still physically healthy have a big advantage:
They know what to look for.
By performing regular and thorough health checkups and routine laboratory tests, you and your doctor can detect changes or warning signs and deal with them before they become major problems.
But if you have a low CD4 count and a high viral load, don't be discouraged.
My first viral load had an astronomical number, which I don't even remember, and yet I remember leaving CRT-A, still on Antônio Carlos Street, so upset that I eventually “hit a bus” on Dona Maria Street Paula (I collided with his side while the traffic light was clearing the bus ticket) and fell flat on my back, ”but I'm still here since a time when there was no treatment.
It will never be easy. I learned that the good things in life, such as Life itself, if too easy, lose their fun!