AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome) is a progressive and fatal condition caused by a breakdown of the body's immune system by a virus called HIV (Human Immuno-deficiency Virus). This condition leaves the subject vulnerable to a host of life-threatening opportunistic infections, neurological disorders, unusual malignancies, and a group of other manifestations and complications. It is probable that a person once infected will be infected for life. Strictly speaking, the term AIDS refers only to the late stages of the disease. This disease is referred to as a modern pandemic affecting people all over the world. Since reported first in 1981, AIDS has become a major worldwide concern. We all live in an environment packed with microbes that are often harmful to health such as parasites, virus, bacteria, etc. All these are potentially capable of harming human body. But what shields the body from their bombardments is the immune system. The immune system in particular consists of certain categories of white cells in the blood, the lymphocytes, that endlessly patrol the body from their base, and the lymphoid organs.
As an organism invades the body, the T4 lymphocytes flash a signal to the T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes to counter the invasion. The T-lymphocytes directly attack the invader whereas the B-lymphocytes take help of antibodies that bind to the organism and destroy it. When these cells function normally, they help the body fight infections and diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. When the body is infected with HIV, the basic T4-lymphocytes, the command center of the immune system, get affected, thereby paralysing the body's defenses. AIDS begins when an individual is infected with HIV, continues with a phase in which a person has no signs or symptoms of the disease, and progresses to signs and symptoms that show a personís immune system is no longer working properly. Therefore, AIDS is the advanced stage of HIV infection.. At this stage of the disease, many people develop opportunistic infections (OI) such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, certain cancers such as Kaposi's sarcoma or develop other manifestations such as neurological involvement, weight loss syndrome etc. For people with AIDS, these OIs are often severe and sometimes fatal because the immune system is so damaged by HIV that the body can no longer fight off the bacteria, viruses, and other microbes that cause the OIs.
How do people get HIV
Medical professionals have identified several ways in which people can be infected with the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV): Through sexual contact with an infected partner and multiple sex partners -- the virus can enter the body through the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis or rectum during sex. But the risk level of oral sex is yet to be determined. Any genital infection, in either partner, greatly increases the risk of infection. Oral/genital contact can theoretically transmit HIV if lesions are present in the mouth or on the genital organ.
By sharing needles or syringes with someone who has been contaminated also spreads the virus. Needle sharing has been blamed for much of the spread of HIV. This applies to drug addicts who "shoot up" in groups with the same needle and the same syringe. In majority of the cases babies born to infected mothers too are afflicted. Further research is on to find out preventive methods to control this kind of transmission. Mother-to-baby transmission can occur during pregnancy through the placenta or during childbirth. It can also occur through breastfeeding.
Blood transfusion is another major way the virus spreads. In 1986, tests were developed to identify HIV in blood products and to treat them to destroy the virus. Today, blood is screened and treated before transfusion, decreasing the risk greatly.
In order to be infectious, the virus has to enter the body and get in contact with the blood of the exposed person. Transmission of the virus, probably, requires a minimal amount of virus or a "threshold" to induce infection. Below this level, the body can get rid of the virus and prevent its installation.
The AIDS virus has been principally detected in the blood, semen, and vaginal secretions of the infected subjects. These body fluids are the principal vectors of the virus. The virus has also been detected in small amounts in other body fluids like saliva, tears, sweat etc.
No studies have indicated that the virus can spread through kissing. At this time, however, it is not known what the risk of infection is from "deep" kissing, which can involve the exchange of large amounts of saliva, or from oral sex. HIV does not spread through sweat, tears, urine or feces.
Modes of transmission.
Instruments used to pierce skin, such as tattoo needles, acupuncture and ear piercing needles, like any other medical and dental instruments do not transmit the AIDS virus provided they are properly cleaned and disinfected. Some of the instruments are available with disposable needles or attachments that have to be discarded routinely.
Saliva & Tears
Despite the presence of the virus in tears and saliva, there has been no documented transmission via these vectors because quantity is below the threshold necessary to induce infection in the host body.
Mosquitoes can transmit certain disease, but there has been no documented evidence of transmission of HIV virus by mosquitoes or any other biting insect.
Animals do not carry the virus, therefore they cannot spread it. Cats occasionally develop a disease that resembles hum justifyBetween several months and 10 years after the primary infection with HIV, about 20% of people infected with the virus develop persistent clinical manifestations consisting essentially of: Persistent increases (more than 3 months) in the volume of the lymph nodes in several sites of the body. Weight loss, fever, night sweats etc. Severe forms of Herpes (viral infection causing painful vesicles on the skin). Persistent and abundant diarrhoea.
Children born to HIV infected mothers subsequently develop AIDS and children who have received contaminated blood product justify. If the infant is not infected, he will become seropositive before the age of 15 to 18 months. However, during this period, and in the absence of symptoms, it is difficult to determine whether or not a sero-positive infant is infected, which is very worrying situation for the parents. This problem can now be solved much earlier than before with use of more sophisticated techniques that did not exist earlier.
Treatment of HIV
The first step in treating the subject is by preventing and treating the various manifestations of infection (OIs), etc, justifyRapid research progress in the field of antiviral agents is a ray of hope. Modern treatments, more often than not, substantially prolong the survival of patients and also ensure long term remissions.
The promise of new antiretroviral therapy is threatened by the emergence of drug resistance, which is the strongest risk factor for the non-adherence to treatment and use of sub-optimal doses of medicine.
Prevention is now the only way to stop the virus from spreading, as AIDS is more of Ďbehavior relatedí condition. Itís the change in the behavior of an individual that helps limit the disease. Medical breakthrough in total cure of AIDS may be round the corner or may take few more years. Even if cure for AIDS is available, the current measures for prevention will still be the only best weapon against the disease.
Advice to Seropositive subjects
Try to avoid re-infection with HIV by only having protected sexual relations. Avoid penetration, otherwise always use a justify. As far as possible, avoid all forms of infections, since they activate the immune system that consequently stimulate the multiplication of the virus lying dormant in the body. Adopt a healthy lifestyle by respecting basic rules of hygiene, appropriate diet, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and by avoiding stress.
See your doctor regularly for a checkup, question the necessity of any vaccination, and consider taking early treatment justify. Clean any surfaces contaminated with blood using the gloves then disinfect with a fresh bleach solution. Sheets and clothes contaminated with blood or body secretions should be washed at a high temperature, preferably, 70C.
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