What is AIDS

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AIDS

AIDS stand for:Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome.

AIDS stand for:Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome.

Human Immuno Deficency virus HIV causes AIDS. The virus attacks the immune system and leaves the body vulnerable to a variety of life threatening infections.

HIV has been found in saliva, tears, nervous system tissue and spinal fluid, blood, semen (including pre-seminal fluid, which is liquid that comes out before ejaculation), vaginaal fluid and breast milk. However, only blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk generally transmits infection to others.

The virus can be spread (transmitted):

  1. Through sexual contact: including oral, vaginal and anal sex
  2. Through blood via blood transfusions or needle sharing
  3. From mother to child: (Transplancetal) a pregnant women can transmit the virus to her foetus through share blood circulation, or a nursing moter can transmit it to her baby from her breast milk

Other methods of spreading the virus are rare and include accidental needle injury, artifical inseminnation with infected donated semen, and organ transplantation with infected organs.

HIV infection is NOT spread by:

Casual contact such hugging, mosquitoes, participation in sports, touching items previously touched by a person infected with the virus. AIDS begins with HIV may have no symptoms for 10 years or longer, but they can still transmit the infection to others during his symptom-free period. If the infection is not detected and treated, the immune system gradually weakens and AIDS develops.

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Acute HIV progresses over time (usually a few weeks to months) to asymptomatic HIV infection (no symptoms) and then to early symptomatic HIV infection. Later, it progresses to AIDS (advanced HIV infection with CD4 T-cell count below 200 cells/mm3.

Almost all people infected with HIV, if not treated, will develop AIDS. A small group of patients develop AIDS very slowly, or never at all. These patients are called nonprogressors, and many seem to have genetic difference that prevents the virus from damaging their immune system.

The symptoms of AIDS are primarily the result of infections that do not normally develop in individuals with healthy immune systems. These are called opportunistic infections. People with AIDS have had their immune system damaged by HIV and are very susceptible to these opportunistic infections. Common symptoms are: Chills, Fever, Sweat (particularly at night), Swollen lymph gland, Weakness and Weight loss.

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STRUCTURE OF HIV

There is no cure for AIDS at present. However, a variety of treatments are available that can help to keep symtoms at bay and improve the quality of life for those who have already developed symtoms.

Antiretroval therapy supresses the replication of the HIV virus in body. A combination several antirevoral drugs, called highly active antireoviral therapy (HAART), has been very effective in reducing the number of HIV particles in the blood stream. This is measured by the viral load (how much virus is found in the blood).

Preventing the virus from replicating can improve cell counts and help the immune system recover from the HIV infection

With the spread of HIV and AIDS there is increasing number of cases of discrimination against person living with HIV and AIDS. The well known case is that of Chandi brothers who were expelled from four different schools because their parents died of AIDS. In discussing such cases, certain degree of empathy and compassion can be developed among the young people. Empathy is the ability to put oneself in the situation of another person. It helps us to understand and accept others.

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