What is HIV?
HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus, which is the cause of acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS.
What is the impact of HIV on someone’s immune system?
In a person who is healthy, the immune system will attack any foreign material or infection.
However, if a person is HIV positive, the virus changes the way your immune system works. Your immune system will not recognize and destroy the HIV virus, which causes it to become more resistant to the effects of the virus.
When this happens, people with HIV may be susceptible to opportunistic infections, or infections that can be easily treated with some anti-virals.
A person with HIV can also have other health conditions that, if untreated, could make them more likely to die from HIV. These include some chronic diseases and certain cancers, as well as some underlying health conditions that make it hard for the body to fight infection.
HIV co-infections are additional conditions or problems that can be caused by having HIV or HIV infection.
Many people who are HIV positive are infected with hepatitis C virus. This is another viral disease that can cause liver damage if left untreated.
People who have HIV or hepatitis C may be more likely to have some of the other health conditions listed below.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV)
People who are HIV positive are likely to have hepatitis B virus (HBV) as a co-infection. This viral infection is not usually a problem in itself, but it can be a problem if it gets into your blood supply. HBV can get into your blood and lead to inflammation of your liver. If left untreated, the infection can cause serious liver damage or liver cancer.
Both HIV and gonorrhea are sexually transmitted infections. GON is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation of your genitals. People who have HIV are more likely to have this infection than someone who does not have HIV.
HSV is also an infection that can cause inflammation of the genitals and mouth. While not a virus that is usually passed from person to person, people who have this infection are more likely to transmit it to their sexual partners.
Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can lead to problems with the female reproductive system. People with this infection are more likely to pass it on to their sexual partners than people who do not have this infection.
Syphilis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can spread from person to person when skin scrapes from the genitals of one person enter another person’s body. It can also cause the brain to become infected.
Herpes zoster (shingles)
Herpes zoster is a viral infection that causes inflammation of your nerves and is usually passed on by coming into contact with the fluid from a blister on someone’s skin.
Influenza can lead to inflammation of the eyes and the respiratory tract if it is not treated.
Hepatitis A virus (HAV)
Both hepatitis A and hepatitis B are usually spread through infected fecal matter. Both can cause stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or jaundice.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV)
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver. It can lead to liver damage if left untreated.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV)
Hepatitis C is also a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver, and it can lead to liver damage if not treated.
HIV/AIDS is a blood-borne infection that can also lead to inflammation of the liver, and can lead to liver damage if left untreated.
Diagnosing HIV co-infections
A doctor may initially diagnose a person with one of these conditions based on their symptoms.
The doctor will then test for HIV or HIV co-infections to see if the person has both of these infections. A doctor may also want to test the person’s blood for evidence of other infections and viruses.
A doctor may want to test a person for hepatitis B or hepatitis C infections if the person has a high number of these infections. The doctor may also want to test a person for STIs or other infections they may have had in the past.
Finding out if someone has all of these conditions at once can make diagnosis easier, as it can make a person’s symptoms easier to explain.
A doctor may recommend that a person takes antiretroviral drugs for HIV or hepatitis B. A doctor may recommend that a person takes antiretroviral drugs for HIV or hepatitis B.
Treating an HIV/AIDS or hepatitis B co-infection depends on the underlying cause. If a person has HIV and hepatitis B co-infection, treatment usually involves taking antiretroviral drugs, which are medications that reduce the amount of virus in the body.
For people who have both HIV and hepatitis B, some of these drugs will also be taken to reduce the liver inflammation that occurs with hepatitis B.
Treatment for HIV is lifelong. People are able to make antibodies against the virus that causes it, so their virus is no longer able to attack the immune system and they are no longer able to transmit the virus to others.
Hepatitis B is very treatable, but treatment may still need to be taken for the rest of the person’s life.
When a person has HIV or hepatitis B, their symptoms may include:
- changes in skin
- swollen lymph nodes, which are found under the arm, neck, and in the groin
- pain in the liver
Tiredness is a common symptom of HIV and hepatitis B co-infection. Tiredness is a common symptom of HIV and hepatitis B co-infection.
- Swelling or redness of the skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty thinking or concentrating
- Swelling or redness of the eyes
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty sleeping
- Trouble thinking
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling dizzy
- Depression or suicidal thoughts
When to see a doctor
It is very important to seek immediate medical attention if the symptoms of hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV co-infections appear.
An untreated infection can lead to severe complications and even death.
It is possible that other complications may include:
- heart disease
- arteriovenous malformation
- renal failure
Most children who have hepatitis B infection develop symptoms and are tested at birth, usually to make sure they have not been exposed to the virus before their birth.
However, in those who do not receive treatment, the infection may not be diagnosed until several years later.
A person who has tested positive for one of these infections should not work in an area where other children may be at risk, such as childcare.
Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are more common than HIV/AIDS, but they are still not as common as they should be. For more information, visit the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).