What is HIV?

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What Is HIV?

You’ve most likely heard of HIV before. However, do you know exactly what it is? It’s important that everyone understands what HIV is, the risks, the signs and symptoms, how HIV is transmitted, and more. In this article, we’ll explain what HIV is and other important information to know about it.

HIV Explained

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, and it is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. Because of this, individuals who contract HIV are more susceptible to other diseases and illnesses since their bodies can’t fight back as well. If left untreated, HIV can turn into AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

HIV is transmitted through contact with certain bodily fluids from an individual who is HIV-positive. These fluids include blood, semen, vaginal fluids, pre-seminal fluids, rectal fluids, and breast milk. Because of this, HIV is most commonly spread through unprotected sex or the sharing of drug injection equipment like syringes, needles, and more.

There are also three different stages of HIV infection. These stages are:

  • Stage 1: Acute HIV Infection
  • Stage 2: Chronic HIV Infection
  • Stage 3: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

Acute HIV infection occurs right after a person contracts HIV. Within the first 2 to 4 weeks, they may experience HIV symptoms, which are similar to the flu: fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, chills, mouth ulcers, and more. During this stage, HIV can be easily spread to others.

Chronic HIV infection follows acute HIV infection. During this stage, HIV is still multiplying in the body, but at much lower levels than during the acute infection stage. Individuals with chronic HIV infection may not experience any HIV-related symptoms, but without treatment it can advance to AIDS within 10 years.

AIDS is the third, final, and most severe stage of HIV infection. If HIV goes untreated, it can result in AIDS, and during this stage the body loses almost all ability to fight infections. Because of this, individuals with AIDS commonly only survive for around 3 years. However, there are treatments that can help those with HIV live longer, healthier lives, which we will touch on in the section below.

Other Things To Know About HIV

The first reported cases of HIV occurred in 1981, and the rapid spread of the virus resulted in an HIV/AIDs epidemic. This is because over 80 million people around the world have contracted HIV since the first reported cases, and over 40 million of those individuals have died from HIV-related illnesses.

There is no cure for HIV, so once someone contracts the virus they have it for the rest of their lives. However, there are HIV treatments that can help individuals with the virus live longer, healthier lives. The primary treatment is antiretroviral therapy (ART), which is a combination of medications that help HIV-positive individuals to live longer and also reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

There are also certain steps that people can take to reduce their risk of contracting HIV. HIV testing is one of the most important tools for prevention, as getting tested often ensures you are safe, healthy, and not spreading HIV to others. Additional ways to reduce your risk of getting HIV include practicing safe sex and taking PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which is highly effective at preventing HIV. The first step you should take is to get tested and then talk with your healthcare provider about a plan moving forward.

At Community Care Resources of Florida (CCRSFL), we are dedicated to delivering the highest quality of care to those in our community by providing excellent medical services, therapy, and outreach to individuals affected by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), HIV, hepatitis C, and/or substance abuse. We strive to deliver healthcare with compassion and affordability to all.

Since our foundation, our goal has been to serve our Altamonte Springs, Hallandale Beach, and Winter Haven communities by providing access to care and resources that help our patients become healthier through safer practices with their partners. We have qualified technicians available to serve you. If you’re interested in our services, you can book an appointment on our website or call us at 1(877) 287-2520!

Contact any of our offices if you need testing and treatment.

106 Boston Avenue Suite 204
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701

Winter Haven:
7492 Cypress Garden Boulevard
Winter Haven, FL 33884

Hallandale Beach:
1008 West Hallandale Beach Boulevard
Hallandale Beach, FL 33009