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World AIDS Day is a good time to get educated, part 1

Dec. 1 was the 30th annual World AIDS Day, which was the first global health day and is intended to raise awareness of the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Here are five things to know about HIV/AIDS:

1. There are three stages of HIV/AIDS.

The first stage is known as acute HIV infection, which occurs two to four weeks after infection and causes sufferers to experience a flu-like illness. This stage can last a few weeks and is the time when the sufferer is the most contagious because of the large amounts of the virus in the blood.

The second stage is known as clinical latency, which is a time when the virus reproduces only at low levels in the body, but the sufferer can still spread the disease even though there may be no symptoms. This stage can last for decades depending on the treatment being administered.

The third stage is AIDS, which stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. This is when the illness is at its most severe and life expectancy is only three years for people who don’t get treatment. This stage causes serious damage to the body’s immune system.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), treatment can be administered at all three stages and can reduce or prevent symptoms as well as reduce the likelihood of transmission.

2. How does someone know if they have HIV/AIDS?

Symptoms of HIV/AIDS can show up in a person before a test can reveal the disease, although blood or fluid testing is the surest way to know if the virus is in the body.

Everyone from ages 13 to 64 should be tested at least once for the virus, the CDC recommends, and people who are at higher risk such as sexually active gay or bisexual men, people who have had sex with someone who is HIV-positive, sex workers and people who have shared needles should be tested frequently.

We will discuss the next three things to know about HIV/AIDS in our next blog post.

Source: USA Today, “World AIDS Day 2018: 30 questions about HIV/AIDS, answered, for 30 years of World AIDS Day,” Ryan W. Miller, Dec. 1, 2018

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