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HIV/AIDS and Opportunistic Infections

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Diagnosing and Treating HIV-Related Opportunistic Infections

Many germs that cause HIV-related opportunistic infections are very common. You can undergo lab tests to learn which ones are already in your body. This will help your doctor know how to treat them and which ones you can focus on preventing. Unfortunately, as many as one out of four people in the U.S. aren't aware they're infected with HIV. Some don't find out until they end up in the hospital with a serious HIV-related opportunistic infection.

HIV makes copies of itself more quickly when HIV-related opportunistic infections occur. So early treatment is important not only to prevent serious results of infection, but to also preserve the immune system. Here's what you can do to receive diagnosis and treatment as early as possible.

  • See your doctor regularly -- two to 12 times a year. Make sure you have a primary care doctor who is experienced in HIV treatment and knows how to coordinate care well with other specialists.
  • If you're a woman, get regular pelvic exams and Pap tests to spot infections, precancers, or cancers of the reproductive system.
  • Keep a record of symptoms to help with diagnosis of HIV-related opportunistic infections. These include fever for more than two days, weight loss, a change in vision, or mouth problems, skin problems, or breathing problems.
  • Go to your doctor if you have any new or unusual symptoms. Don't wait for your regularly scheduled visit.
  • Prepare for appointments by coming with questions and a way to take notes.
  • Follow through with your course of treatment. Don't quit early.

Preventing Recurrence of HIV-Related Opportunistic Infections

Take the maintenance therapy your doctor prescribes. This is medication to prevent recurrence of infections. As your immune system recovers, you may be able to stop taking these at some point.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on June 16, 2012
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