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Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are approximately 1.1 million people above the age of 13 living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the U.S. Studies also show that there are approximately 50,000 new cases of HIV every year.

These studies also found that African American men and women were eight times more likely to develop HIV. Of these new cases, 61% were gay and bisexual men. So what exactly is HIV and why is it so dangerous? Could medical malpractice be a factor in these cases, and if so, what can victims do to protect themselves?

The definition for human immunodeficiency virus is found in the name. It is a virus that directly attacks the immune system of the victim, causing them to be less able to fight off other diseases and bacteria. HIV operates by damaging and destroying specific white blood cells. The CD4+ white blood cells are responsible for helping defend against infection and as HIV destroys these blood cells, the body is unable to protect itself. There are several different stages of HIV, with the last and most serious stage being AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

Causes & Symptoms of HIV

How do people acquire this serious infection? First of all, you can get this virus by coming into contact with someone who already has HIV. Either through their blood, vaginal fluids, or semen, the virus can be transmitted by coming into contact with any of these bodily fluids. This could be through sexual intercourse or by using a needle that had previously been used by someone suffering from HIV.

If a mother is infected by HIV, she could pass it along to her baby while they are in the womb or during birth and breastfeeding. One important fact to remember is that this virus only can survive well if it is inside the body. This means that sharing the same dishes as an infected person or even bodily contact will spread the disease.

How can you know if you are suffering from HIV? What are the symptoms of this serious condition? As it is important to diagnose HIV while it is still in its early stages, it is important to be familiar with the symptoms of this virus. When HIV first begins, it is often mistaken for the common flu or even mono. The symptoms include a fever, sore throat, headaches, a rash, or general achiness. These symptoms may only last for a couple of weeks, after which they may disappear for years.

This does not mean that the person is healthy; it means that the virus is growing inside the person and damaging the immune system. After growing over the years and becoming worse, more symptoms will arise if it is not caught and treated. The new symptoms could include night sweats, a fever, tiredness, weight loss, and swollen lymph nodes. If the doctor determines that HIV is the cause, there are treatments which can be given which could help the immune system function properly.

Diagnosing & Treating HIV

Besides recognizing the symptoms, how can a doctor diagnose HIV in a patient? There are certain tests which have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration which can test bodily fluids for the presence of HIV. If the tests results show up as positive, a blood test can be taken in order to definitively determine if HIV is present. A blood test will look for the presence of antibodies in the blood, antibodies which are created in order to destroy HIV. Treating HIV can include the administration highly active antiretroviral therapy medication. This works by slowing down the rate at which the virus can multiply in the body.

What should you do if you were the victim of medical malpractice in a case of HIV? It is important that you are diagnosed early on so that treatment can begin. If your doctor was negligent and failed to accurately diagnose you, they could be held responsible for the negative consequences. As early treatment is crucial in your recovery, any instances of medical malpractice need to be taken seriously.

If you were injured and believe you may have a case, please contact a New York medical malpractice attorney from our team at the Law Offices of Joseph M. Lichtenstein, PC. We have over 60 years of experience on our side and understand how best to help you. Call today for a free case evaluation.