Know your status. Get tested.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) attacks the immune system through the CD4 cells (T Cells). These cells help the immune system fight infections. When HIV is left untreated, the CD4 cells (T Cells) are reduced in number and make the body more likely to get infections and infection-related cancers. If these CD4 cell numbers continue to drop, the body will have a hard time protecting itself against any kind of infection or disease. Untreated HIV will cause these CD4 cells (T Cells) to continue reducing in number until the patient has developed AIDS.
AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is the final stage of HIV infection. This is usually signaled when the number of CD4 cells (T Cells) drops below two hundred cells per cubic millimeter of blood (200 cells/mm3). The CD4 count of an uninfected adult/adolescent in general good health can range from 500 cells/mm3 to 1,600 cells/mm3. If a patient develops AIDS from HIV, their immune system is badly damaged and they become vulnerable to opportunistic diseases. These are infections that would normally pose no real risk to an uninfected person, but at this stage, they can become life threatening. People who are diagnosed with AIDS typically survive up to three years without treatment. When a patient is also diagnosed with an opportunistic infection, life expectancy can drop to a year. When a patient is diagnosed with AIDS, they need medical treatment to stay alive. Not everyone who is diagnosed with HIV advances to AIDS.
There is currently no effective cure for HIV/AIDS. With the proper treatment, HIV can be controlled. The medicine that is used to treat HIV is called Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). If this treatment is followed correctly, every day, it can keep the patient healthy and lower their risk of transmitting the virus to others.
The majority of HIV infections are spread two ways: unprotected sexual activity with someone who is already infected and sharing syringes and other items involved with injection drugs. HIV is not spread by the air, water, shaking hands, drinking fountains, saliva, mosquitoes and other insects, kissing, or sharing drinks. These are myths.
In 2015, there were over 18,000 people diagnosed with AIDS in the United States. There were as many deaths from HIV/AIDS in 2014. Be informed. Know your status. Get tested.
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