HIV

 
Cross Street Medical Clinic is approved to do HIV Testing by the Ministry of Health Singapore. Cross Street Medical offers all relevant HIV screening tests, PEP and PrEP. Speak to our doctors today about what you may need. Female doctors are available by appointment. We ensure patient privacy and confidentiality for all discussions, tests and treatments.
 
 
 
HIV
 
 

What is HIV & AIDS?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (or HIV) is a lentivirus (a subgroup of retrovirus) that causes HIV infection.

There are two types of infection:
  • HIV-1 is the main cause of HIV infection globally
  • HIV-2 occurs mainly in West Africa
The HIV virus can remain dormant in the human body for up to 10 years after HIV infection; during this period, there may be no symptoms.

HIV is different from Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (or AIDS).

AIDS is the advanced stage of HIV infection in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive.

The average onset of AIDS without treatment is 8-10 years after HIV infection.

Early treatment of HIV can delay the progression to AIDS by more than 10 years.
 
 

How do we contract HIV?

  • In most cases, HIV can be spread during vaginal, anal, or oral sex by contact with or transfer of blood, pre-ejaculate, semen and vaginal fluids
  • HIV can also be spread through sharing of contaminated needles and syringes or transfusion of infected blood or blood products
  • An HIV-positive mother can transmit HIV to her baby both during pregnancy and childbirth due to exposure to her blood or vaginal fluid

What if a healthy person is potentially exposed to infectious HIV fluids?

If a healthy person is exposed to blood or potentially infectious fluids from an HIV-positive person, there is treatment.
This treatment is called Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (or PEP). It must be started within 72 hours of exposure. Please consult our doctors for an assessment.

How can we tell that we may have HIV infection?

Stage 1:

The first symptoms occur within 2 to 4 weeks after infection with HIV (acute seroconversion). HIV Screening can start from 14 days after sexual exposure.

The symptoms may last for a few weeks and person is very infectious at this stage. Symptoms include:
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Rash

Stage 2:

After acute seroconversion, the virus and its host cell can avoid detection by the immune system (latent). The HIV virus may remain dormant in the human body for up to 10 years and there may be no symptoms during this period (this also known as asymptomatic HIV infection or chronic HIV infection).

Stage 3:

AIDS is the last stage of HIV infection, where the vital cells in the human immune system have been largely destroyed. Thus, people with AIDS often develop symptoms and signs of infections or cancers.

Common symptoms of AIDS include:
  • Chills, prolonged fever and night sweats
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Relentless fatigue and unexplained weight loss (wasting syndrome)

Testing for HIV infection

Cross Street Medical Clinic is approved to do HIV Testing by the Ministry of Health Singapore. Cross Street Medical offers all relevant HIV screening tests. Speak to our doctors today about what you may need. Female doctors are available by appointment. We ensure patient privacy and confidentiality for all discussions, tests and treatments.

What does HIV do to our bodies?

HIV infects vital cells in the human immune system such as helper T cells (specifically CD4+ T cells ), macrophages, and dendritic cells.

CD4 + T cells are a critical part of our immune system in fighting infection and killing cancer cells.

When CD4 + T cell numbers decline below a critical level (200 cells per uL), the body becomes progressively susceptible to life-threatening opportunistic infections (such as pneumonia), leading to the development of AIDS.

What is the treatment for HIV?

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is started immediately after diagnosis.

Studies show that the sooner people with HIV start treatment after a positive diagnosis, the more they benefit from ART, as treatment:
  • Lowers the level of HIV in the blood (i.e. viral load, or CD4 cell count)
  • Reduces HIV-related illness, and lowers the risk of transmitting HIV to others

This treatment can suppress HIV replication to undetectable levels (viral load <50 copies/ml) in the blood. It is widely recognised that a person is not infectious when viral load <50 copies/ml.

However, successful treatment is determined by many factors, including treatment adherence, drug resistance and local health support.

Many people who are treated with ART have near-normal life expectancies if treatment is started early. In fact, taking ART the right way, every day, can reduce a person’s chance of transmitting HIV through sex by as much as 96%.

How do we prevent infection and re-infection?

  • Avoiding high risk sex, including commercial sex workers, casual sex and multiple sex partners
  • Using condoms, including during oral sex
  • Being in a long-term monogamous relationship with a partner who has tested negative for HIV and other STDs/STIs