December is National HIV/AIDS Awareness Month, and many people are unaware of the significant impact this virus can have on the liver. HIV is one of the leading causes of cirrhosis and NASH in the United States. Let’s take a closer look at why that is in our latest blog; read more below.
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, making the person infected susceptible to other infections and illnesses, which can lead to AIDS. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection and can dramatically reduce the lifespan of someone who contracts it. HIV is primarily transmitted through sexual contact but can also be passed through blood and needles.
The symptoms of HIV can vary depending on the person but can include fever, fatigue, weight loss, and muscle aches. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but treatments available can help prolong the life of someone who has it.
Many people with HIV are living long and healthy lives thanks to advances in treatment. However, HIV can still take a toll on the body, especially the liver. They often result in a build-up of fat in the liver, known as steatosis, which can lead to inflammation and scar tissue. In severe cases, this can progress to cirrhosis. In this serious condition, the liver cannot function at maximum capacity, so practicing good liver health practices are essential to prevent symptoms of cirrhosis.
Furthermore, NASH is more likely to develop in people who are overweight or obese or have diabetes, and those who are infected with HIV are more likely to fall into one of these categories. It’s important to note that with the way HIV attacks the body. These white blood cells fight off infection, making the body more susceptible to other diseases and infections when weakened. Once a person is infected, the virus begins to attack the white blood cells. One of these infections is hepatitis C, which is known to cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. It’s believed that HIV can weaken the liver over time, making it more susceptible to damage from hepatitis C.
The liver is an under-appreciated organ. It’s hidden away, and we usually don’t think about it until something goes wrong. Yet, the liver plays a vital role in keeping our bodies healthy and capable. It filters our blood, produces essential hormones, and even helps to digest food. When it’s working correctly, we don’t even know it’s there, but the same can’t be said when something goes wrong. So, next time you think about your liver, don’t forget to give it the love and attention It deserves it!
What are you waiting for? If you fear you may have liver damage or want to keep tabs on your liver health, don’t delay – request a FREE fibroscan appointment today! Visit our website to learn more today.