Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a sexually transmitted retrovirus that targets vital cells of the immune system. As infection progresses and accelerates, afflicted patients lose their ability to fight off infections from pathogens that are not a problem for healthy immune systems. Once a patient’s immune system cell count reaches a critical level (CD4+ count of less than 200 per micro liter), the person is considered to have Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
Symptoms of HIV can vary significantly, depending on the severity and phase of the infection, as well as the patient’s overall health. In its early stages, patients may not experience any symptoms from this infection, or may notice signs similar to those of the flu, including a fever, headache, sore throat and swollen lymph glands.
Further symptoms may not present themselves for as long as eight or nine years, while the virus continues to spread throughout the body with patients often unaware that they are infected. During this time, you may experience minor infections or chronic symptoms of diarrhea, weight loss, fever and cough.
During the final stages of infection, which usually occurs 10 years or longer after the initial exposure, this condition usually transitions into AIDS, at which point patients may experience:
- Night sweats
- Shaking chills
- High fevers
- Chronic diarrhea
- White spots or lesions in the mouth
- Weight loss
- Blurred vision
While there is no cure for this infection, there are several effective medications to slow the progression of the disease, strengthen the immune system and help patients maintain their quality of life with minimal side effects. Most patients are treated with Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART), which slows the activity of HIV and promotes healthy immune system function. Treatment with HAART usually combines three or more antiretroviral agents that are taken on a regular basis throughout the patient’s life.
Dr. Shelub will develop a personalized treatment plan for you based on your individual condition and overall health. We strive to remain on the cutting edge of treatment and offer patients the latest and most advanced medications as they become available.