Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection (Inpatient Care) Care Guide
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection Discharge Care
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection Inpatient Care
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HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is an infection that slowly weakens your immune system. The virus kills a type of white blood cell called CD4 cells. The loss of CD4 cells weakens your immune system. Over time, a weak immune system makes it difficult for you to fight infections. This can also lead to certain cancers and heart disease.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
- HAART medicines used to treat HIV can cause many side effects. Common examples are liver failure, weakness, numbness in your arms and legs, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some HAART medicines may raise your blood sugar and cholesterol levels. HAART medicines may not work, especially if you do not take them as directed. They may interact with other medicines you take and cause those medicines to fail. HIV increases your risk for heart or kidney disease, and some cancers. You are at risk for pneumonia, tuberculosis, and other infections. High blood pressure, blood clots, and broken bones are more common. Problems with memory, concentration, and judgment are common. You also have a higher risk for food poisoning.
- With or without treatment, your CD4 count may drop below 200. When this happens, you have AIDS. This means your immune system cannot fight off infections and disease, and this can lead to death.
WHILE YOU ARE HERE:
You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
- Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.
- Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your oxygen level is low or cannot be read.
- Heart monitor: This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.
- Blood tests: The CD4 cell count in your blood will be tested. If it is below 500, your immune system has been affected by HIV. Blood tests will also reveal your viral load. This is the amount of HIV in your blood at any given time.
- Tests for infections: You will need tests for common active or opportunistic infections. These are illnesses that can be very dangerous for those with HIV infection. They include toxoplasmosis, tuberculosis, and pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP). Ask your caregiver for more information about these illnesses.
- Antiretroviral medicines: These medications slow the progression of HIV. They are given in different combinations called highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Your caregiver will decide what kind of HAART you need. You may need to make HAART changes if you have severe side effects or develop resistance to a medicine.
- Antimicrobial medicines: These are given to kill infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungus.
- Antinausea medicine: This medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
- Preventative medicines: You may need medicines to protect you from opportunistic infections. They include toxoplasmosis, pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP), and tuberculosis.
- An IV (intravenous) is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
- Reverse isolation: You may be put on reverse isolation safety measures if your body is having a hard time fighting infections. You are given a private room to protect you from other people's germs. Caregivers and visitors may wear gloves, a face mask, or a gown to keep their germs away from you. Everyone should wash their hands when entering and leaving your room.
- Oxygen: You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your caregiver before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
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