Can you believe that we are up to #8 of the 25 things you should know about HIV (and probably don’t) over 25 days. These 25 things will impact what you do and the choices you will make.
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are. ~Anaïs Nin
#8: There is no such thing as one size fits all with HIV.
HIV affects each of us differently. We can’t expect to check out a book and know exactly how this disease will progress in your body or what your body’s reaction will be to HIV or its treatment.
Did you know there are two types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2? Both types are transmitted by sexual contact, through blood, and from mother to child, and they appear to cause virtually indistinguishable AIDS. However, it seems that HIV-2 is less easily transmitted, and the period between initial infection and illness is longer in the case of HIV-2.
Most of the infections across the world are HIV-1. However, there are different strains of HIV-1. The strains of HIV-1 can be classified into four groups: the “major” group M, the “outlier” group O and two new groups, N and P.
Within group M there are known to be at least nine genetically distinct subtypes (or clades) of HIV-1. These are subtypes A, B, C, D, F, G, H, J and K.
Why is this important to you?
It has been found that certain subtypes react differently to antiretroviral drugs and others progress to AIDS much faster. Most current HIV-1 antiretroviral drugs were designed for use against subtype B, but there is no real evidence that they are less effective against other subtypes. Nevertheless, some subtypes may be more likely to develop resistance to certain drugs and impact the effectiveness of your treatment.
You can never say “it is only HIV” because “only HIV” is much more complex than you may think.
It is possible to become infected with more than one strain of HIV known as a “superinfection”. In these cases, the second infection can occur months after the first. It appears that the body’s immune response to the first virus sometimes isn’t enough to prevent infection with a second strain, especially with a virus belonging to a different subtype.
It has been shown that “superinfection” can be harder and less predictable to treat. Drug resistance is a huge problem. There is no got it and I will take a few pills a day to keep it at bay.
How does this affect your path?
We always have choices to make with HIV. When you make the choice to put your self at risk, do you really understand what that risk is?
If you are HIV positive, please make the choice to learn all that you can about HIV and protect yourself and your partners against secondary infection. A fighter knows the rules of the game.
Another one of those rules is that there are no hard rules when it comes to HIV infection and how it will react in your body. The only sure rule is that you will lose if you try to ignore HIV.
““The first rule is not to lose. The second rule is not to forget the first rule.” Warren Buffet