HIV/AIDS and opportunistic infections
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)/ AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Disease Syndrome) is a sexually transmitted infection that makes your immunity weak by destroying your immune system so that any infection can attack you and have life-threatening consequences or lead to death.
Sounds Frightening!!!!!! We know. But you can prevent many opportunistic infections by taking some preventive measures. Learn about them in this article.
Why do opportunistic infections happen with HIV and AIDS?
Well, there is a reason that opportunistic infections are lethal with HIV/AIDS. Opportunistic infections also happen to us even when we are not infected with HIV/AIDS, but these infections are not as deadly as they become with HIV infection/AIDS. But after HIV/AIDS any disease can become an opportunistic disease. Why?
Because HIV starts destroying the defense system – the immune system. The Immune system produces CD4 T cells and HIV after defeating the immune system also destroys the CD4 cells (Which is the last line of defense). CD4 cells are the one that plays a key role to stop this opportunistic disease from attacking the body, very easily making your condition worse or even leading to death.
That’s why you need to maintain the CD4 count in your body so you can prevent these types of infectious diseases. Even with HIV, if you take preliminary treatment and maintain proper medications you can avoid these infectious diseases.
Common opportunistic infections
Although, any disease can become an opportunistic infection when your immune system is weak. Some common opportunistic infections include:
- Candidiasis or thrush: It is a fungal infection that infects your mouth, throat, or vagina.
- Cryptococcus neoformans (crypto): This is a fungal disease that can lead to meningitis, a disease that creates inflammation in the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.
- Cryptosporidiosis or Microsporidiosis: This is an infection that happens from microscopic animals called protozoa that mess with your gut.
- Cytomegalovirus (CMV): This is a viral disease that can lead to blindness and severe diarrhea and ulcers.
- Herpes simplex virus: This is a group of viruses that can cause sores and cold blisters around the mouth and your genitals.
- Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC): This is a bacterial infection that can cause fevers, indigestion, and severe weight loss.
- Pneumonia: It is a fungal infection that can cause lung infections.
- Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML): A viral infection that affects the brain.
- Toxoplasmosis: A parasitic disease that can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) which can further lead to blurry vision and eye damage.
- Tuberculosis: A bacterial infection that affects your lungs. It can also lead to meningitis if it makes its way to the brain.
- Invasive cervical cancer: This infection starts from the cervix (lower part of the uterus) and spreads to other parts of the body.
- Histoplasmosis: This is a fungal infection caused by the fungus Histoplasma, which infects your lungs and gives symptoms like flu or pneumonia.
- Kaposi’s sarcoma: This is a viral infection caused by a virus called Kaposi’s sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV). This makes small blood vessels grow abnormally anywhere on your body leaving pink and purple spots on the skin.
- Lymphoma: This is the cancer that happens in lymph nodes and lymph tissues in your body.
What can you do to prevent opportunistic infections?
If you get infected with opportunistic infections, ask your health provider about how to treat them. To prevent opportunistic infections is to take HIV medications because HIV medications try to keep your immune system strong to fight back these diseases.
There are some steps you can follow to prevent opportunistic infections:
- Try to prevent sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV. Use condoms and barrier protections while having sex.
- Do not share needles, syringes, injections, or drug equipment.
- Try to limit your exposure to things that can make you sick, including tuberculosis or germs you can easily find in pools, saliva, or in the skin of animals.
- Try to avoid consuming food like undercooked foods, especially eggs, raw milk and cheese, unpasteurized fruit juices, or raw seed sprouts.
- Don’t drink polluted or unclean water (such as water that comes from seas and rivers). Avoid drinking tap water while staying in different countries.
- Do not drink water while swimming in the pool, lakes, or rivers.
- If you are a woman, you should get pelvic screening tests to spot precancers, infections, and cancers.
Opportunistic diseases are diseases that look for the opportunity to attack your body when your immunity is weak. That’s why you should try to maintain your health by maintaining a good lifestyle. And try to avoid getting HIV by taking the necessary precautions. Because HIV is the main disease that gives this opportunistic infection a chance to attack your body. So, HIV prevention is necessary. And if you have HIV then, take proper medications to reduce the chances of getting these diseases.
Want to know about the treatment of opportunistic infections?
At Doral Health and Wellness, we have specialists for Infectious diseases that can help you manage your condition. For more information, you can visit us at 1797 Pitkin Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, 11212, or call us at 1-347-384-5690. You can also visit our website at https://doralhw.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries.