OverviewHuman immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is a retroviral infection that damages the cells in the immune system and impairs your ability to fight infections. There is no cure for HIV, but effective drugs allow patients to live a near-normal life.
Signs and SymptomsFever, Night sweats, Unexplained weight loss, Skin rashes, Chronic diarrhea, Sore throat, Oral ulcers, Recurrent infections, Headaches, Generalised lymphadenopathy, Myalgias and arthralgias, Fatigue
Common CausesHaving sexual contact with someone infected with human immunodeficiency virus, Blood transfusions with infected blood, Sharing of contaminated needles, Infected mothers pass the virus to their babies during pregnancy, delivery or breastfeeding
Risk FactorsHaving unprotected sex with intravenous drug users who share needles, homosexuals, or someone who has travelled or lived in Africa, Homosexuals, People with another sexually transmitted infection, People who have received blood transfusions, People who use intravenous drugs and share needles and syringes, Healthcare workers who are at risk of needle prick injuries
Investigation TechniquesMedical history, Full blood count, Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test, Saliva tests, Viral load tests such as reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), branched DNA (bDNA), and nucleic acid sequence-based amplification assay (NASBA), Western blot
Treatment and PreventionHighly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART regime) using medications such as nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors, non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, protease inhibitors, entry inhibitors, integrase inhibitors, and CCR5 receptor antagonists, Treatment of other opportunistic infections, Post-exposure prophylaxis, Maintaining a healthy lifestyle