HIV infection is typically diagnosed through various tests that detect the presence of the virus or antibodies produced in response to it. The most common screening test is the HIV antibody test, which detects antibodies the body produces as a reaction to HIV. Another widely used test is the antigen/antibody test, which looks for both HIV antibodies and antigens.
As per Dr Vigyan Mishra, Chief of Lab -Neuberg Diagnostics, Noida, common symptoms of HIV infection vary and may not appear immediately. Early symptoms, often resembling flu-like illness, can include fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. As the infection progresses, symptoms may become more severe and persistent, such as weight loss, chronic fatigue, and recurrent infections. However, it's crucial to note that individuals infected with HIV can remain asymptomatic for years.
Treatment for HIV involves antiretroviral therapy (ART), a combination of medications that target different stages of the virus's life cycle. ART suppresses viral replication, helps maintain a healthy immune system, and reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to others. Early initiation of ART is crucial for better outcomes, as it can slow the progression of the disease and prevent opportunistic infections.
Regular monitoring of viral load and CD4 cell count is essential to assess the effectiveness of treatment. Adherence to the prescribed medication regimen is crucial for successful management. In recent years, advancements in HIV treatment have improved the quality of life for those infected. Additionally, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is available for individuals at high risk of HIV to prevent infection.
While these advancements have transformed HIV from a once-debilitating illness to a manageable chronic condition, awareness, regular testing, and access to treatment remain critical components in the global effort to control the spread of HIV and provide effective care for those living with the virus.