All About Pathophysiology of HIV

HIV, also known as Human Immunodeficiency Disease, is one of the leading causes of death in the entire world. It was first found out in the 1980s. Every single day millions of deaths are caused due to this global pandemic.

It is a very hard time fighting disease because it spreads throughout the body damaging the organs in quite a small span of time. HIV is a virus that causes an alteration in our immune system, making it weak and susceptible to infections. This infection can lead to its chronic stage if not treated early. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently claimed that an HIV positive can lead a normal life with medications and treatment.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a retrovirus that belongs to the family called lentiviruses. The main function of this retrovirus is to use up the RNA and host DNA in order to make viral DNA. Therefore, it causes serious damage to our immune system and destroys it by using the DNA of CD4+ cells to recreate itself. Hence, the CD4+ cells, which are a type of T cells, are finally disrupted. These are white blood corpuscles (WBC) that freely moves within the body to detect infections. When HIV kills these cells, it lowers the ability of the body to fight any sort of infection.


Initially, the disease starts with a symptom of influenza, followed by a latent, asymptomatic phase. When the level of CD4 lymphocytes falls under 200 cells/ ml of blood, the HIV host advances to AIDS. After the virus enters the body, a quick viral replication occurs that causes plenty of viruses in the peripheral bloodstream. Some recent studies say that >95% of CD4 T cells die because of ineffectual HIV infection.

The virus can enter the body via many pathways. It acts upon the following cells. They are:


  1. Endothelial cells
  2. Lymphoreticular system
  • CD4 cells
  • Monocytes
  • Macrophages
  1. Central nervous system
  • Neurones
  • Microglia
  • Astrocytes

Causes Of HIV

HIV is spread among people by:

  • Semen
  • Breast milk
  • Blood
  • Anal fluid secretion
  • Vaginal discharge


  1. Anal or vaginal secretion happens when a person doesn’t use condoms or medication usually for people with high risks


  1. Used syringes, needles, or any other medical equipment can lead to HIV.


  1. A pregnant woman with HIV positive will transmit the disease to the newborn fetus while giving birth or during lactation.


  1. There is always a risk of transmitting this disease during blood donations if screening is not professionally maintained.

Symptoms Of HIV

Infections by viruses, fungi, bacteria or other pathogens can severely aggravate the symptoms of HIV.

The situation goes out of control for individuals with excessive poor immunity power. A balanced immune system would protect the body against the more advanced effects of HIV.

Almost 70-80% of the individuals would develop flu-like symptoms within 3-6 weeks of the virus entering the body. This is referred to as acute retroviral syndrome.

Some of the other notable symptoms of HIV are:

  • Fever
  • Cold and cough
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Joint pain
  • Body aches
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Red rashes
  • Glands enlarged
Prevention And Treatment


  • The load of the virus can be controlled with proper medications. Some of the other precautionary steps are:
  • Take correct vaccinations after discussing with your physician.
  • Wear condoms every time to reduce the risk of spreading.
  • Understand your surroundings and restrict exposure as much as possible.
  • Avoid foods that have risks of getting contaminated like eggs and dairy products.
  • Drink water directly from filters or packed bottles.

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