Key facts and checkpoints

HIV is a retrovirus with two known strains that cause a similar spectrum of syndromes: HIV1 and HIV2.

Always consider HIV in those at risk: enquire about history of STDs, injection of illicit drugs, past blood transfusions, sexual activities and partners.

About 50% of patients develop an acute infective illness similar to glandular fever within weeks of acquiring the virus (the HIV seroconversion illness). 2 The main features are fever, lymphadenopathy, lethargy and possibly sore throat, and a generalised rash. If these patients have a negative infectious mononucleosis test, perform an HIV antibody, which may have to be repeated in four weeks or so if negative.

Patients invariably recover to enter a long period of good health for five years or more. 1

• Pneumocystitis pneumonia is the commonest presentation of AIDS.

• Approximately 15-25% of HIV-positive children are infected from HIV-infected mothers. 3

• Infants born to these mothers may develop the disease within a few months, with 30% affected by the age of 18 months.

• The time for the onset of AIDS in HIV-affected adults varies from 2 months to 20 years or longer; the median time is around 10 years.

• In family practice the most common presentation of HIV-related illness is seen in the skin/oral mucosa. 4

• HIV antibody testing is a two-stage process: ELISA test for screening is followed by another method, e.g. Western blot, if ELISA is positive.

• The seroconversion period from acquiring HIV infection to a positive antibody test varies between individuals: this period is known as the 'window period'.

• All HIV infected patients require regular monitoring for immune function and viral load. The viral load test monitors viral activity.

• The level of immune depletion is best measured by the CD4 positive T lymphocyte (helper T

cell) count—the CD4 cell count. The cut-off points for good health and severe disease appear to be 500/^gmL and 200/^gmL respectively. 1

The Complete Compendium Of Everything Related To Health And Wellness

The Complete Compendium Of Everything Related To Health And Wellness

A lot of us run through the day with so many responsibilities that we don't have even an instant to treat ourselves. Coping with deadlines at work, attending to the kids, replying to that demanding client we respond and react to the needs of other people. It's time to do a few merciful things to reward yourself and get your health in order.

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