How Long Does HIV Live Outside the Body?
In order to understand how long does hiv lives outside the body, it is necessary to know what happens inside the human body. First of all, there are two types of cells: lymphocytes (white blood cells) and monocytes (immune system cells). Lymphocytes fight off infections while monocytes are responsible for fighting other immune system cells. Monocyte is one type of cell that produces antibodies against viruses such as HIV. These antibodies cause the virus to die before it can enter the body.
The second type of cell is called T-cells which are white blood cells that produce antibodies against certain antigens. When these antibodies come into contact with HIV, they recognize it as an antigen and destroy it before entering the body.
The antibody produced by these T-cells is known as CD4 (cytotoxic lymphocyte 4), which means cytotoxic 4 refers to its ability to kill viruses.
As far as HIV is concerned, it has no effect on any of these cells. However, when the virus enters the body through a cut or wound, it causes inflammation and infection.
This is why you get sick if you have cuts or wounds that become infected. The same thing occurs with needles used to inject drugs because HIV gets into your bloodstream from those areas. Once in your blood stream, HIV begins to replicate itself until it reaches critical mass where it becomes fatal within hours.
Once the virus has entered the body, it starts destroying the immune system by shutting off the production of T-cells and killing them. As time passes, the number of T-cells in the body decreases and critical organs such as the brain, liver, lungs and heart are attacked by the virus.
The reason why some people are more susceptible to the virus than others is that their immune system is not working at full capacity. For example, an HIV patient with a weak immune system is more likely to suffer from a deadly infection than someone with a stronger immune system.
This is why the symptoms of HIV take anywhere from 5 to 20 years to manifest themselves. This long incubation period has led to a lot of misinformation about the disease in the past.
Did You Know?
The first case of HIV was discovered in 1959 in Los Angeles. Researchers named it LAV (lymphadenopathy-associated virus). They later renamed it after discovering it caused AIDS.
Even today, there is a lot of misinformation about the disease despite the advances in medical science and research. It is very important to get tested and know your status if you think you are at risk.
You can find out if you are at risk by going to our AIDS Symptoms page.
How Long Does HIV Live Outside the Body
Now that you know about the dangers of hiv and how long does hiv live outside the body the next question is how do you protect yourself. For starters, using a clean syringe or a rig (cooker) when injecting drugs is an essential way of protecting yourself.
Even a small cut on your hand can expose you to the virus when using a dirty syringe or rig. If you are sharing with other people, make sure you wash your hands before and after injecting to avoid contact with blood or any other bodily fluids.
Another way of protecting yourself is by using a new mouthpiece every time you smoke. In some countries, it is even possible to get clean syringes from special clinics in case you can’t get them over the counter.
It is also important that you educate yourself about the ways of preventing the spread of diseases while engaging in risky behavior.
No matter how much counseling or medication you take, it is simply not enough to overcome your desire to engage in risky behavior. In this case, you should find ways of distracting yourself or engaging in other activities that keep your mind off drugs.
Some people go as far as joining support groups to help fight their desires to engage in risky behavior.
Living With HIV
While there is no cure for HIV, you can still live a long and happy life with the disease by taking medication. The type of medication will depend on several factors such as your overall health and the virus itself.
In any case, you will probably be on medication for the rest of your life because stopping it would allow the virus to reproduce uncontrollably.
Some types of medication include:
Nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs)：Examples include Zidovudine, Lamivudine, Abacavir and Tenofovir. They work by interfering with the HIV’s ability to copy itself and stop it from spreading through your body.
Non-nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)：Examples include Efavirenz and Nevirapine. They also work by preventing the virus from copying itself, but they do this in a different way to NRTIs.
Protease inhibitors (PIs)：Examples include Saquinavir, Ritonavir and Indinavir. These drugs block a protein called “protease” which the virus needs to copy itself.
Entry inhibitors：Examples include Enfuvirtide and Maraviroc. These drugs block key points of entry that the virus uses to get inside a person’s body.
Integrase strand transfer inhibitors (INSTIs)：Examples include Raltegravir and Dolutegravir. They block an enzyme called “integrase” which is essential for the virus to reproduce.
HIV Entry Inhibitors：Examples include HTC and T-20. These drugs work by blocking a certain area of the immune system called the “clathrin-dependent endocytosis” system which is involved in absorbing viruses into cells.
Antiretroviral therapy (ART)：This is the general term for all HIV medication. ART includes the above types of drugs and more.
Be sure to ask your doctor which type of medication is right for you and how to take it properly. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about it, then change doctors!
It is vital that you take your medication correctly because if you don’t, the virus will become resistant to that type of medication and will not be treatable by any other types. Therefore, it is very important that you stick to a strict treatment plan without fail.
It is important to remember that, contrary to popular belief, you can still transmit the virus even while taking medication. This is because the medication does not sterilize you!
You can expect to see a decrease in the viral load though.
You have the same responsibilities as everyone else when it comes to preventing the spread of the virus. This means using condoms, not sharing needles, and not having unprotected sexual contact with people.
It is important to get tested for the HIV regularly. You can expect these tests to be fairly accurate nowadays.
If you test positive, then it is vital that you go on an antiretroviral drug treatment plan. If you refuse, then you could face very serious legal and social consequences.
You can lead a normal life with HIV by taking your medication properly and sticking to a safe sexual lifestyle. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot enjoy life as much as anyone else!
Thank you for reading this article.
This message was brought to you by the AIDS Foundation in your area.
HIV is still not curable, it’s still a big problem and there’s still many people who are dying from it. This disease has been a thorn in the side of the medical community since it’s discovery.
What is it?
The human immunodeficiency virus, shortened to HIV, is a virus that attacks your immune system. When someone has an infection, their body creates special cells to fight it off. This is why cold sufferers get blocked noses and chickenpox sufferers get scabby spots. The virus attacks these infection-fighting cells, and makes more of itself in the process. After making thousands of copies of itself, the sufferer’s immune system is unable to cope and they become much more vulnerable to common diseases such as the common cold. AIDS is the name given to the final stage of HIV infection.
It was first discovered in the early 1980s and has since become a pandemic, with over 25 million people infected worldwide. In the US alone, over 1.2 million people are infected.
In Australia, it’s even worse with a quarter of the population infected! The mortality rate is also very high; over 20 million people have died from AIDS since it was discovered.
Over 70% of people infected with HIV will develop acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, within 10 years of exposure. Once you have AIDS, you will suffer from a weakened immune system and an increase in common illnesses such as pneumonia and other diseases that your body could normally fight off easily.
Sources & references used in this article:
Reconnaissance assessment of risks for HIV transmission through health care and cosmetic services in India by M Correa, D Gisselquist – … journal of STD & AIDS, 2006 – journals.sagepub.com
Lubricants and HIV by C Holden – Science, 1995 – search.proquest.com
‘Long live Zackie, long live’: AIDS activism, science and citizenship after apartheid by S Robins – Journal of Southern African Studies, 2004 – Taylor & Francis
AIDS and the body politic: Biomedicine and sexual difference by E Martin – 1994 – Beacon Press
When bodies remember: Experiences and politics of AIDS in South Africa by C Waldby – 2003 – books.google.com
Working outside of the box: how HIV counselors in Sub-Saharan Africa adapt Western HIV testing norms by D Fassin – 2007 – books.google.com