What is AIDS? Symptoms prevention and awareness

What is AIDS? Symptoms, Prevention and Awareness

What is AIDS?

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection with the Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a retrovirus.

How it spreads?

  • HIV is spread primarily by unprotected sex.
  • Contaminated blood transfusions, hypodermic needles.
  • By sharing tattoo equipment without sterilizing it.
  • From mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.

Prevalence

  • In 2019, about 38 million people worldwide were living with HIV and 690,000 deaths had occurred in that year.
  • By the time AIDS was identified (in the early 1980s) and 2018, the disease has caused an estimated 35 million deaths worldwide.
  • HIV/AIDS is considered a pandemic—a disease outbreak which is present over a large area and is actively spreading .
  • HIV remains one of the most serious global health threats of our time.

Difference Between HIV & AIDS

HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus )

AIDS (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome)

  • HIV is a virus that attacks cells in the immune system.

 

  • Not every person with HIV will develop AIDS

 

  • The virus destroys a type of white blood cell in the immune system called a T-helper cell – also referred to as a CD4 cell.

 

  • HIV destroys more CD4 cells and makes more copies of itself.

 

  • If HIV is left untreated, it may take up to 10 or 15 years for the immune system to be so severely damaged that it can no longer defend itself.
  • AIDS is a set of symptoms caused by the HIV virus.

 

  • Every person who has AIDS will have HIV.

 

  • A person is said to have AIDS when their immune system is too weak to fight off infection.

 

  • This is the last stage of HIV when the infection is very advanced & if left untreated will lead to death.

What are the symptoms of HIV infection?

Symptoms of HIV infection may show up within two to four weeks of exposure to HIV which includes-

  • Fever

  • Swollen glands

  • Sore throat

  • Night sweats

  • Muscle aches

  • Headache

  • Extreme tiredness

  • Rash

  • Diarrhea

  • Weight loss

  • Cough

Only some people show symptoms others do not have any symptoms or do not notice the symptoms because they are mild or they think they have a common cold or the flu. After these flu-like symptoms disappear, people living with HIV can go for years without showing any symptoms. The only way to know for sure if you are living with HIV is to take an HIV Test. Antibodies are made against HIV infection & it takes 1-3 months and occasionally up to 6 months to develop these antibodies. This 3-6 month period between acquiring HIV and the production of antibodies is called the “Window period.” Therefore tests that detect antibodies are only reliable one to three months after you have been exposed to HIV.

We have read above how HIV virus is spread but there are some misconceptions about the HIV Virus:-

HIV is not spread through contact-

  • Sweat
  • Tears
  • Saliva
  • Feces
  • Urine

Is there a vaccine to prevent HIV infection?

  • Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent HIV infection and no cure for AIDS.
  • Only you can prevent yourself and others from this infection.

Prevention

1. Use Barrier Protection

Using a method of barrier protection, such as condoms, during sexual acts can reduce the chances of transmitting HIV and other STI (Sexually transmitted infections).

2. Using Safe injection Practices

  • Intravenous drug leads to HIV transmission.
  • Sharing needles and other drug equipment can expose a person to HIV & other viruses also.
  • Anyone who injects any drug should do so with a clean, unused needle.
  • So it’s always advisable to use a fresh syringe.

3. Avoiding exposure to relevant body fluids

  • Reduce contact with blood, semen, vaginal secretions.
  • Frequently and thoroughly washing the skin immediately after coming into contact with body fluids can also reduce the risk of infection.

4. Pregnancy

  • An HIV-positive pregnant female may pass the infection to the baby.
  • But if she receives treatment during pregnancy, it can significantly cut the baby’s risk.

5. Treatment

  • Currently, there is no licensed vaccine for HIV or AIDS.
  • Treatment consists of “Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART)” which slows down the progression of the disease.

Conclusion

Although there is no cure for HIV, with the right treatment and support, people living with HIV can enjoy long and healthy lives. To do this, it’s especially important to commit to taking treatment correctly. Myths about HIV are very harmful. They can make you afraid of something that is not dangerous. It is important to learn the truth and get the facts right.

Read Also: World Oral Health Day: Significance, Ayurveda, Benefits

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