HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a retrovirus, infects CD4 lymphocytes and destroys them, resulting in immunocompromised state which then leads to a greater susceptibility for the development of opportunistic infections and neoplasms.


HIV is a bloodborne virus which is primarily transmitted through sexual contact, the intravenous use of drugs, vertical transmission during vaginal delivery, and unscreened blood transfusions.


Typically, seroconversion illness occurs in the 2-10 week window following exposure to the virus, with symptoms such as fever, headache, rash, sore throat, and lymphadenopathy. The initial appearances of the virus may actually be due to opportunistic infections.


No specific physical signs are associated with HIV, although physical findings due to opportunistic infections may be present.


  • HIV test
  • CD4 count
  • Viral load
  • Screening for other blood borne viruses
  • Contact tracing (followup)


Combined highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) consists of two separate nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) plus either a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI) or boosted protease inhibitor (PI). Post-exposure prophylaxis is also available to reduce the risk of HIV transmission.


  • Opportunistic infections
  • Drug resistance
  • AIDS


Without antiretroviral therapy, progression to AIDS and death occurs within 7-10 years. With effective antiretroviral therapy, life expectancy is similar to that of a non-HIV infected person, and the risk of transmission is also reduced.

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