Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) fires at the body's immune system. If left untreated, HIV may lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which is the third most severe phase of HIV infection. Although there's no cure for HIV—once individuals get HIV, they have it for life—but it can be controlled with proper medical care to live a long, healthy life while protecting their loved ones.
Studies suggest that the HIV infection first jumped from a chimpanzee in Central Africa to humans in the late 1800s; this was when humans hunted down chimpanzees and came in contact with the infected blood or consumed the infected meat. However, the chimpanzee version of the virus was known as the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV). After that, in the late 1970s, the virus had traveled to the United States.
Being aware of your HIV status will help you prevent its transmission. Some possible symptoms of acute HIV infection include fatigue, fever, chill, muscle ache, night sweats, rash, sore throat, mouth ulcers, or swollen lymph nodes. However, other illnesses may also cause the same symptoms, so it’s essential to get tested to know if you have attracted the virus.
Anyone who has had unprotected sex recently, shared needles and other injecting equipment, or has been diagnosed with any Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI). Testing for HIV can help reduce anxiety and put your mind at ease. It gives you greater control of your overall health. Best of all, the HIV test is easy, quick, and (almost) free. The test may involve a blood test or quick saliva swab, and you'll be done before you know it!
Taking an HIV test is beneficial for yourself or your loved ones. However, the test must involve your full consent after you have had an opportunity to speak to a professional regarding all things involved. Additionally, the test and results (either positive or negative) must remain confidential. The healthcare facilities should give you information regarding prevention services and further treatment depending on the results.
In case you test positive for acute or chronic HIV infection, stages 1 and 2 respectively, you can seek treatment via antiretroviral drugs. These drugs are known to protect the immune system from damage and reduce HIV in the body so low that it becomes undetectable. Additionally, you can look after the sexual health of your partners by using protection (i.e., condoms) to prevent further transmission.
Don't wait! This Pride month, vow to get tested to ensure a safer and healthier LGBTQ+ community!
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