HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that weakens a person’s immune system by destroying important disease and infection-fighting cells. No effective cure exists for HIV yet. However, with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. In the US, certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of transmission have been identified, including their sex partners, their intravenous drug use, as well as socio-economic factors.
HIV-1 is most commonly spread through specific such as unprotected sexual behavior or through needle and syringe use. Outside of the US, it is also common for a mother to pass the virus on to her child through pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding, especially if she is not undergoing HIV-1 treatment through medication. Another method is being pricked with an HIV-1 infected needle or syringe (healthcare workers are at highest risk for this occurrence). Frequent testing for those especially at risk is crucial to halting the epidemic.
The symptoms of HIV-1 can vary greatly from person to person. No two people with HIV will likely experience the exact same symptoms. However, the some of the most commonly reported symptoms are:
- Body rash
- Sore throat
- Severe headaches
- Persistent diarrhea
- Chronic fatigue
- Rapid weight loss