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HIV/AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome)

AIDS is caused due to human immunodeficiency virus(HIV) infection. This retrovirus attacks the immune system, especially the CD4 cells(T- helper cells), which help to keep infections at bay. Therefore, AIDS patients are highly susceptible to infections and infection related cancers.

India has the third largest AIDS epidemic in the world. Around 2.1 million people in India are living with AIDS. In 2016, there had been nearly 62000 deaths due to HIV.

Transmission of HIV

HIV virus is transmitted when the blood of a healthy individual comes in contact with certain body fluids of an infected person such as blood, sexual fluids and breast milk. The following are the modes of transmission of HIV virus:

  1. Having unprotected sex with an infected person.
  2. Sharing injectable drugs with an infected person
  3. Sharing needles during body piercing and tattooing.
  4. Transmission from an infected mother to baby via breastfeeding
  5. Using HIV infected blood for transfusion (Rare)


Staging and Symptoms of HIV

HIV infection typically progresses through three stages:

Stage 1: Acute HIV infection: (within 2-6 weeks of HIV infection) At this time, the patient is extremely contagious, but is often unaware that they are infected because they may not feel sick at all. However, a patient may experience minor flu like symptoms such as headache, diarrhea, nausea vomiting and fatigue.

Stage 2: Asymptomatic/ Chronic HIV infection: The infected person is completely asymptomatic in this period. The HIV is still active but is multiplying at a very slow rate. This phase may be as long as a decade for a patient who is not taking treatment for HIV. However, with treatment, a person would remain in this stage for several decades. The infection in this stage is still contagious. During the end of this phase, the infected person has speedily dropping levels of CD4 in blood and the amount of HIV in blood is also increasing steadily.

Stage 3: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS): It is the advanced stage of infection where the levels of CD4 drop below 200(Normal-500-1500). Common symptoms of AIDS include- chills, fever, sweats, swollen lymph glands, weakness, and weight loss. People who do not take any treatment for AIDS may survive for 3 years. This duration can be lesser if the patient contracts a dangerous infection.


Diagnosis of HIV

Most infected people do not have any symptoms and thus do not realize if they have HIV. Testing is the only means to check for HIV infection. If you develop flu like symptoms after a potential exposure to HIV, please take a test for HIV. HIV testing would help you to get treated timely and prevent transmission of disease.

There are three main types of tests to diagnose HIV:

  1. Antibody test: This test detects the presence of HIV antibodies in blood or oral fluids. It detects HIV sooner than any other test. However, these antibodies can be produced only around 3- 12 weeks after infection.
  2. Combination (Antigen/ Antibody) test: This test looks for both the HIV antigen and antibodies in blood. Antigens are the foreign substances that activate your immune system. Antibodies are produced by the immune system in response to infection. When you are infected with HIV, an antigen p-24 is produced much before the antibodies develop. It takes around 2 to 6 weeks for a combination test to detect HIV infection.
  3. Nucleic Acid Tests: This test detects HIV virus in blood. This test can detect HIV infection as soon as 7-28 days after a person is infected with HIV. This test yields accurate results but is very expensive and not routinely done for HIV screening.

If HIV screening is positive, a follow up test is done to confirm diagnosis. A negative test may not necessarily mean that you do not have HIV infection. If the test is performed in the window period- the period between the time when the patient was infected and the time when the tests are able to detect the presence of HIV infection, the test would be negative. This window period may vary from patient to patient. In this case, you may be asked for a retesting after 3weeks.

Tests to plan the treatment

If you are HIV positive, you would be asked to take certain tests to find out the severity of disease and the drugs which may be beneficial to you. These tests include:

  1. CD4 count: CD4 are the white blood cells that are specifically targeted and destroyed by the HIV virus. When your CD4 count is less than 200, it means that you have AIDS.
  2. Viral Load: This test determines the amount of virus in blood.
  3. Drug Resistance: This test would help to find out if the strain of HIV that has infected you would respond to the anti-HIV drug that is prescribed.

Treatment of HIV

There is no cure for HIV infection. However, if you are HIV positive, your physician would prescribe some drugs (antiretroviral drugs) that may curb disease progression.

Prevention of HIV infection

There is no specific vaccine to prevent HIV infection. However, certain measures could be taken to prevent the spread of HIV. They include:

  1. Safe sex: Use a new condom everytime when you have sex. Water based lubricants should be preferred as oil based lubricants weaken the condom.
  2. Avoid sharing needles: If you use needles to inject drugs make sure it is cleaned and sterilized properly before use. Never share the needle that has been already used once.
  3. Consider male circumcision: Studies have proven that circumcision decreases the risk of HIV in males.
  4. If you are HIV+ve: Please let your partner know so that they can get tested and receive appropriate medical care. Do not donate blood or other body tissues. Avoid sharing personal items such as toothbrushes and razors.
  5. If you are HIV+ve and pregnant: Your baby is at high risk of acquiring HIV. Early and prompt treatment reduces the risk of infection in the baby. Avoid breastfeeding.


  1. About HIV AIDS. Accessed on 16/10/2017
  2. Understanding HIV. Accessed on 16/10/ 2017
  3. HIV testing. Accessed on 16/10/2017
  4. Accessed on 16/10/2017
  5. Tests and Diagnosis. Accessed on 16/10/2017
  6. HIV AIDS- Treatment and Drugs. Accessed on 16/10/2017

Patient Testimonials

“Finding the best place for a diagnostic test is as important as consulting the best doctor. The Apollo name was what guided me to Apollo Diagnostics and I am indeed glad that I came here. From attending us on time to sample collection, everything flowed so smoothly. I was particularly impressed by the hygiene. It was definitely a value for money experience. Thanks a lot Apollo Diagnostics…keep up the good work!”

Mrs. Ferha Jabeen, Old Bowenpally, Secunderabad

“I Have heard a lot of good things about Apollo Diagnostics from our family physician as well as from relatives and friends. So then next time I needed a diagnostic centre, I visited Apollo Diagnostics and I was really glad I did. For one, I didn’t have to wait. The technician was extremely good, and the place was really clean. It was certainly a value for money experience. Great job Apollo Diagnostics!”

Ms. T. Jaya, Nakkalagutta, Hanmakonda

“I must say Apollo Diagnostics places a great value on time and patient comfort! I am a fan of their home collection service which is not only on time and technically sound, but the hygiene and cordiality of the visiting technician is also commendable. Hats off! I’ll continue to recommend Apollo Diagnostics to my family and friends.”

Mr. B. Pochaiah, Mallikarjuna Nagar Colony, Old Bowenpally, Secunderabad

“I have always had a great experience with Apollo Diagnostics. The calls are unfailingly answered. The scheduled appointment is kept to the minute. The phlebotomist is well-trained in both technique and putting the patient at ease. Apollo Diagnostics undoubtedly delivers value for money. They will always be my top option for all the diagnostic needs of my family.”

Mr. Prasanta Kumar Jena, JP Nagar, Bengaluru

“I came to know about Apollo Diagnostics from my relatives and friends. So, when I required a check up to be done, I thought about trying their service once. From sticking to the appointed time to accuracy of technique, it was really a great experience overall. Hygiene of the technician and the centre as well, was also quite admirable. I certainly felt it delivers value for money service. From now on, I’ll always visit Apollo Diagnostics for all my checkups.”

Mr. Venkateshwar Rao, Hanmakonda

“I was looking for a good diagnostic centre to get some checkups done. I was confused as there are so many of them all over the city. Some of my friends recommended Apollo Diagnostics as the best one. I’ll always remain thankful to them. The technician at Apollo Diagnostics was not only punctual but his competency was certainly praiseworthy. I never felt any discomfort as he was so confident and compassionate. Great job Apollo Diagnostics!”

Mr. T Radhakishan Rao, Hanmakonda

“My experience with Apollo Diagnostics has been consistently good. Securing the appointment was very easy and the schedule was maintained to the dot. The behaviour of the technician was pleasant and he was well–versed with his job. The place was noticeably clean and I did not face any discomfort during the process. The reports were delivered as promised and surprisingly, the service was pretty affordable. I would recommend Apollo Diagnostics to my circle without any hesitation!”

Mr. Arif Ameer, JP Nagar, Bengaluru

“Apollo Diagnostics came highly recommended by my friends. I was particularly impressed by their cordiality, time management and process competence. Another must mention is the hygiene factor that is impeccable. Given the quality delivered, this is certainly a value for money experience. Thanks a lot Apollo Diagnostics…keep up the great work!”

Ms. A.Madhavi, Warangal

“Our family physician strictly instructed me to get the checkup done at Apollo Diagnostics. I am glad I respected his opinion. I was attended to as soon as I went in. The technician was a true expert at his job and made it a painless experience for me. I also observed that the centre was spotless and all the staff members were particular about maintaining hygiene. Apollo Diagnostics certainly delivers value for money. I’ll always recommend Apollo Diagnostics to my family and friends.”

Ms. Vimala, Hanmakonda

“My Apollo Diagnostics experience has thus far been truly amazing. Besides unfailingly maintaining the schedule – be it sample taking or report delivery, their sense of cleanliness is also tops. The technicians are well-trained and do their job with diligence and in a friendly manner that puts patients at ease at once. Apollo Diagnostics is setting a very high standard indeed! Now that’s what I call a fine job!”

Ms. G. Jyothi, Warangal

“My mother needed a blood test, but was unable to walk due to pain in her leg. A Phlebotomist from Apollo Diagnostics came home and collected the sample. I was informed, via SMS, that the report could be collected from any of the 3 centres in Dibrugarh, downloaded online or even delivered home for a nominal fee. Although the rates were reasonable, my mother also received a senior citizens discount too! This saved my time, money & energy. My aachhe din really seemed to have arrived! Thank you Apollo Diagnostics and hats off for displaying true professionalism.”

Mr. Alokk Kar Dowerah, Dibrugarh

“Whenever I need to have a blood sample collected from home, I ask for Vasu. He is punctual, courteous and so skilled I hardly feel any pain when he draws the sample. Plus, I truly appreciate how quickly the reports are delivered. Thanks Apollo!”

Mr. Sukumar, Film director, Sriram Nagar, Hyderabad