Diagnoses & Conditions

Prevention of Infection in HIV-infected Patients

Understanding HIV Infection

HIV is a sexually transmitted infection. It can also be spread by contact with infected blood or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast-feeding.

Symptoms of HIV Infection

The majority of people infected by HIV develop a flu-like illness within a month or two after the virus enters the body. This illness, known as primary or acute HIV infection, may last for a few weeks.

Possible signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • Rash
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen lymph glands, mainly on the neck

Although the symptoms of primary HIV infection may be mild enough to go unnoticed, the amount of virus in the bloodstream (viral load) is particularly high at this time. As a result, HIV infection spreads more efficiently during primary infection than during the next stage of infection.

Diagnosis of HIV Infection

HIV is most commonly diagnosed by testing your blood or saliva for antibodies to the virus. Unfortunately, it takes time for your body to develop these antibodies - usually up to 12 weeks.

A newer type of test that checks for HIV antigen, a protein produced by the virus immediately after infection, can quickly confirm a diagnosis soon after infection. An earlier diagnosis may prompt people to take extra precautions to prevent transmission of the virus to others.

Prevention of Infections in HIV-Infected Individuals

Those with HIV infection may be prescribed immune globulin therapy administered into the blood stream intravenously (IVIG) to prevent bacterial infections.

This content is not intended to substitute professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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