Common complications of HIV and AIDS

HIV is a virus that festers in the body’s white blood cells, thereby weakening the body’s immune system. It disables the immune system as well as its ability to fight off illnesses. Statistically, about 101,000 people are living with HIV in the United Kingdom, and 92% of them are diagnosed. This means that for every 12 people living with HIV, one person does not know that they have HIV. HIV does not have a known cure yet, but there are medications that can drastically slow down the growth and progression of the virus and prevent it from turning to AIDS (the deadly end of HIV).

While there are several known causes and symptoms of HIV which include sexual intercourse, sharing of sharp objects with an infected person and symptoms which include muscle ache and joint pain, swollen lymph glands (particularly on the neck), rash. These symptoms can be so mild the one might not notice them, by this time, the amount of virus in the bloodstream is very high, and as a result, the infection spreads more easily.

HIV weakens the white blood cell and its ability to function as an immune system, making the body more susceptible to develop numerous complications and infections such as:

  1. Tuberculosis

TB is a bacterial infection of the lungs which results in symptoms such as cough, fatigue, fever, and weight loss. Tuberculosis is one of the infections that leads to the death of many people living with HIV.

  1. Cancers

People living with HIV are at risk of developing several types of cancer, some of which include;

  • Lymphoma: This type of cancer takes hold in the white blood cells and the lymph nodes. One of the early signs of this is the swelling of the Lymph nodes (around the neck, armpit, or groin). Among people with HIV, the Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are the most common types of lymphoma.
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma: This is a tumor of the wall of the blood vessel. This type of cancer is rare in people who are not infected but very common among people living with HIV. It usually appears as a pink or purple lesion on the skin. For people who are dark-skinned, the lesion may appear dark brown. The Kaposi’s sarcoma also affects internal organs, including the lungs and the digestive tract.
  1. Neurological conditions: Another common complication associated with HIV are neurological conditions which range from anxiety, depression, dementia to mention but a few. Although AIDS doesn’t seem to affect the nerve cell, however, it can cause neurological complications and disorder, all of which may culminate to behavioral changes and reduced mental functioning.
  2. Cytomegalovirus

This is very common herpes transmitted via body fluids such as semen, breast milk, urine, blood, saliva. The virus is rendered inactive and dormant by a healthy immune system. But in the case when your immune system is weak, the virus causes damage to the eyes, digestive tract, lung, and other organs.

  1. Candidiasis

This is another common HIV-related complication. It causes inflammation a well as a thick white coating on the mucous membranes of the mouth, esophagus or vagina, and so on.

More: Test and diagnosis of HIV

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