World AIDS Day: Know HIV, Symptoms, and Treatment

WHO has designated December 1 as World AIDS Day to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic. However, there are still many people who do not recognize this disease. ACT's Humanity Medical Services team, Dr. Jati Satriyo, explained HIV, its symptoms, and current treatments.

Dr. Jati Satriyo
Dr. Jati Satriyo from ACT’s Humanity Medical Services. (ACTNews/Ichsan Ali)

ACTNews, JAKARTA – AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a disease that originates from HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). This virus damages the human immune system. HIV infects and destroys types of white blood cells in the body. Hence, the immune system deteriorates and is susceptible to disease.

WHO has designated December 1 as World AIDS Day to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic. ACTNews specifically met one of Humanity Medical Services team, Dr. Jati Satriyo, to have an in-depth discussion about AIDS. 

What is HIV?

Doctor Jati explains HIV patients are prone to get sick. This virus attacks the immune system. Hence, it cannot work properly to fight infection or cancer. Even so, people with HIV can take medications to control the virus, keep their immune systems strong, and stay healthy for many years.

People can become infected with HIV if blood or body fluids (such as semen or vaginal fluids) from a person who has HIV enter their bodies. For example, a person can get HIV if:

  1. Having sex without using a condom with someone who has HIV. It includes vaginal, anal, and oral sex.

  2. Sharing needles or syringes with someone who has HIV.

What are the symptoms of HIV?

HIV patients can experience fever, sore throat, headache, muscle aches, and joint pain. These symptoms usually last about two weeks. In most cases, these symptoms are mild because these symptoms are the same as other illnesses. Most people do not remember having these symptoms.

In the first years after infection, most people with HIV infection do not experience any symptoms or experience only mild symptoms. Some people may experience swelling of organs under the skin called lymph nodes, usually in the neck, armpit, or groin. These symptoms can also occur in people who have had HIV for a long time.

However, people who have HIV and have not been treated for years may experience additional symptoms, such as fever, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. In addition, people who have HIV can suffer from other infections, such as lung, brain, eye infections, and oral thrush that causes pain and white lesions on the tongue or inner cheeks.

How to treat HIV?

Doctor Jati continues if someone has been diagnosed with HIV, the doctor will usually prescribe a combination of drugs to control HIV called antiretroviral drugs. This drug works well to keep HIV infection under control. HIV patients and doctors must work together to decide when to start treatment and appropriate drugs.

Patients must follow all doctor's instructions about medication and how to take medication properly and correctly every day. HIV can get worse if people skip or stop taking their medications. HIV patients should also tell their doctor if they have side effects or problems with the HIV medicines.[]