Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks the immune system and can lead to a range of health complications. It is transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk, and once it enters the body, it infects immune system cells, including CD4+ T-cells. Over time, HIV weakens the immune system, leading to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
After exposure to HIV, it can take two to four weeks for the virus to become detectable in the bloodstream. This is known as the window period, and during this time, a person may not test positive for HIV, but they can still transmit the virus to others. Once HIV is detectable, the immune system begins to respond by producing antibodies to fight the virus, which can take up to three months.
The early stage of HIV infection, or acute HIV infection, lasts from two to four weeks and is characterized by flu-like symptoms. However, most people with acute HIV infection do not experience any symptoms at all, making it difficult to diagnose. Symptoms of acute HIV infection may include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle aches and joint pain, swollen lymph nodes, rash, and sore throat.
According to healthline HIV infection is diagnosed through a blood test that detects the presence of antibodies to HIV. If a person tests positive for HIV, additional tests are done to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment for HIV involves taking a combination of medications known as antiretroviral therapy (ART), which suppresses the virus and prevents it from replicating. People with HIV should also practice safe sex and disclose their HIV status to sexual partners to prevent transmission.
In conclusion, HIV can stay in the body for weeks before showing first-stage signs. Early diagnosis through testing and starting treatment with ART as soon as possible can help people with HIV live long, healthy lives and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others. Practicing safe sex and disclosing HIV status to sexual partners is also crucial in preventing transmission.
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