Together with Ramón, EFEsalud interviewed Dr. Marisa Montes, from the GeSIDA board, to talk about the first signs or symptoms that can alert you that you have Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
A virus that the entire population is exposed to, whether it is homosexual or heterosexual, and which is detected with a simple blood test.
In 1993, Ramón Linaza was diagnosed as an HIV patient. She was tested because she had had sexual routines "which are now considered risky".
He estimates he was infected in the 1980s, but he did the tests in the early 90s when he asked a physician to do them when he was aware that he had hazardous practices and it turned out to be positive.
"The basic reason for doing the test was that I knew I had risky methods, even though I hardly had any symptoms, just a chronic cold that I didn't stop removing, which more or less I still have, I have some inclination. .. ".
Ramón explains that his case is quite special: "I started medicating myself during the year I was diagnosed, with retroviruses that was the only medicine I had then and I participated in many research protocols but with that I always played the group of placebo."
A special case
"My case is known all over the world because I am one of those people who have developed the most resistance to all drugs because they have a completely uncontrolled viral load."
As a result, he had very low defense. His CD4 lymphocytes, which are the fight against infections, came down to 40 per cubic meter.
"For many years they couldn't control the virus, had a virus load of millions of copies and even though I didn't develop any disease."
About five years ago they gave him a new drug, even in combination with another drug "which I thought had hepatitis but had seen it useful … let's say it was a shock treatment".
So far his HIV virus load was undetectable and since then he confirms that it stays so and that the defense has gone a lot: "Now I'm at 400 CD4 more or less".
Quality of life
He believes that he has always had a good quality of life even though he has low defenses.
But remember that years ago it was very normal for every winter to catch the flu and stay two or three days in bed. "Now I spend the winter without a big problem".
"Never," he concludes, "we must lose hope, and we must also say that we must always follow prescribed drugs. There are two very important elements: eating and living a healthy life, getting enough rest … .. you must take care of yourself and I have always done so ".
HIV symptoms: the first very unspecified
Explain Dr. Marisa Montes that when the HIV infection is new, the patient usually feels a flu, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, fatigue …
"And, of course, the symptoms of HIV are very uncertain."
There are times, specialist GeSIDA explains, that if the person in question has suspicions and least knowledge that HIV produces catarrh as soon as it is contagious, the tests are done.
"But if you don't suspect anything, you think you have the flu. In fact, 99% of patients recover within a week and remain asymptomatic."
The problem is that the disease becomes chronic and the virus starts to do its damage, which is usually "slow and progressive".
Symptoms of infections
The specialist warns when the virus degrades your immune system adequately, you begin to get the symptoms related to the infections you are taking.
Most often, he says, it is from an instant to have other symptoms.
"But that moment, that time depends on each person, there are many factors, and it depends on the amount of virus that remains in the blood of your immune system, your age, that you have other diseases.
"Time is variable but there is a time when the virus kills part of the defense that is the CD4 lymphocytes, it is a virus that specifically damages one type of defense of the organism".
Pneumonia, meningitis, tuberculosis, candiadiasis ..
And when these defenses are below a certain level, the infectious problems begin, and patients have symptoms related to these infections "and most often they are pneumonia, fever, cough and difficulty breathing".
There are also serious types of meningitis, with fever, headache, behavioral patterns.
The doctor also points to tuberculosis.
"It's a disease that is much more common in people who have HIV infection. In general, these are the most common diseases we see in connection with".
And then it is "relatively often that patients have candidiasis", a fungus that sometimes is in the mouth and also in the esophagus "and it should also be suspicions".
Herpes zoster, tumors …
Sometimes shingles can also indicate HIV infection. "In this case, they seem very striking herpes, big herpes."
When the immune system is badly damaged, tumors may occur "especially lymphoma, there are some types that can be very serious, in fact, fatal and some serious infections of the brain as well".
People can only get infected with HIV and not get AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome).
Aids means that your defense has dropped below 200 cd4 per microliter and "in addition to dropping some of these management symptoms or any disease associated with low defense has occurred, and that is when the disease has developed."
The specialist explains that the disease does not develop until the HIV virus kills a sufficient number of CD4 lymphocytes.
"During that period, people can be asymptomatic."
Weight loss, appetite, fever
Even the loss of weight, appetite, fever, sweating occurs and generally it does when there are already some of the mentioned infections or when the disease is already very advanced.
"The HIV virus itself can cause fever, fatigue, weight loss, then there is diarrhea that is already in the stages of very advanced disease."
Asymptomatic moment: high risk
The asymptomatic period is high risk and it is because one does not know that the person who has HIV can transmit it to others while the immune system deteriorates without understanding it.
"Earlier we said that AIDS was reached at an average time of 10 years, but from the fourth or fifth year signs begin: herpes, frankly …."
For Marisa Montes, it is fundamental to insist that the diagnosis is fundamental and that it is a disease that affects everyone, gay and heterosexual.
"Having an HIV test is super important and diagnosing yourself before any symptoms make you completely change your life."
"With medication, it becomes controllable and it will not cause you problems or any illness that can kill you when you are 30 years old".