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HIV – Causes, Symptoms & Prevention

Dr. Farah Tanveer

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HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system. If left untreated, HIV can lead to the disease AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), which is the final stage of HIV infection. Keep reading as we discuss the causes, symptoms, and prevention of HIV.

What is HIV?

Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) Infection remains a big stigma not only in our society but also in the western world. As the name implies, this virus weakens the body’s immune system by destroying the body’s natural protective cells. If left untreated, these protective cells fall below a critical limit and this advanced form of the infection is called AIDS. The weakening of the immune system puts the patient at risk of getting many other life-threatening super-infections.


HIV is spread predominantly by sexual contact, sharing syringes/ needles/ surgical instruments, or unscreened blood transfusion. An HIV-positive mother who is not on treatment can also transfer the virus to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding. However, HIV does not spread by touch or casual contact, such as sharing food utensils, towels, and bedding.

Following is the list of possible causes of HIV:

  1. Unprotected Sexual Contact: The most common mode of transmission is through unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected person, particularly anal, vaginal, or oral sex.
  2. Sharing Needles: Sharing needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment with an infected person can lead to HIV transmission.
  3. From Mother to Child: An infected mother can pass the virus to her baby during childbirth or breastfeeding.
  4. Blood Transfusions: Though rare nowadays due to stringent screening processes, HIV can be transmitted through contaminated blood or blood products.
  5. Occupational Exposure: Healthcare workers may be at risk if they come into contact with HIV-infected blood or bodily fluids through accidental needle sticks or other mishaps.

Early Symptoms of HIV

Following are the early symptoms of HIV:

  1. Headaches
  2. A red rash
  3. Sore throat
  4. Fatigue
  5. Fever
  6. Muscle aches
  7. Swollen lymph nodes

Symptoms of AIDS – 3rd Stage of HIV

Ignoring the illness will weaken the person’s immune system and hence the infection will progress to the 3rd stage, i.e., AIDS. The symptoms of AIDS include:

  1. Tiredness
  2. Night sweats
  3. Unexplained weight loss
  4. Diarrhea
  5. Long-lasting fever
  6. Unexplained bruises or bleeding
  7. Shortness of breath


Prevention is the best strategy against HIV. This infection is not curable, meaning once a person acquires this virus it is not possible to get rid of it. However, there are very effective medicines that can stop this virus’s ability to multiply in our body, leading to the preservation/ recovery of protective cells. Therefore HIV patients who take their medicines regularly live the life of a normal person and have a good life expectancy. Treatment also reduces the chances of transmission to other people.

Here are some preventive measures we can take:

  1. Safe Sex: Using condoms consistently and correctly during every sexual encounter can greatly reduce the risk of HIV transmission.
  2. Testing: Getting tested and knowing your partner’s HIV status is important for making informed decisions about sexual activity.
  3. Education and Awareness: Increasing awareness about HIV transmission and prevention can help dispel myths and encourage safer behaviors.


If you notice any HIV symptoms consult your doctor immediately to get an HIV test. You can use oladoc to book your appointments with the best doctors in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, and other cities without any extra charges.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Farah Tanveer
Dr. Farah Tanveer - Author Dr. Farah Tanveer is a Infectious Disease Specialist with 5 years of experience currently practicing at Expert Consult Clinic, Lahore. You can book an in-person appointment or an online video consultation with Dr. Farah Tanveer through oladoc.com or by calling at 04238900939.

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