Learn about the causes of HIV & find a practitioner in Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin to help you overcome HIV within New Zealand.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a retrovirus infection caused by the transfer of blood, semen, vaginal fluid, breast milk or pre-ejaculatory fluid. HIV can lead to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) whereby the immune system begins to fail leaving the body open to life-threatening infections
The origins of HIV remain unclear but the Simeon Immunodeficiency Virus (SIVcpz), which is a form of HIV, is found in chimpanzees in Africa. The spread of the virus to humans is thought to have occurred due to human contact with the blood of infected chimpanzees.
For many years, the HIV virus was believed to have been limited to parts of Africa. As transportation and communications between Africa and other parts of the world opened, the virus spread to other continents.
The HIV virus spreads by the transfer of bodily fluids typically through sexual intercourse. Other ways for the virus to spread are through sharing needles when injecting illegal drugs or the virus spreading from an infected mother to her unborn child.
Blood transfusions in the UK have been screened since 1985 and since then no-one has been infected with HIV via this means. However, the same cannot be said for developing countries or in other parts of the world where screening policies are not as rigorous.
Once in the body, the HIV virus breaks down the immune system until it is not able to function properly. This leaves someone with HIV susceptible to serious infections or diseases such as cancer.
The associated symptoms of first stage HIV usually appear after 2-6 weeks after infection although research shows that this only occurs in 60% of people. During this initial stage (known as primary HIV infection) symptoms can include:
These symptoms can be mild and mistaken for a cold or glandular fever. After the symptoms have passed, further complications may not appear for a number of years however the virus continues to spread and cause damage to the immune system.
Late-stage HIV can take up to 10 years at which point the virus will have caused critical damage to the immune system leaving someone at a high risk of serious or fatal infections. An infection caused by immunity damage may cause symptoms such as:
Symptoms of HIV are similar to other conditions and can be easily mistaken as such. High risk groups for HIV are encouraged to have a test as diagnosing the virus early increases the chances of successful treatment.
High risk groups include:
An HIV test involves taking blood and looking for the presence of the virus. Detection of the virus only occurs after three months have passed from infection and therefore another test is recommended three months after the first HIV test.