Archive for the ‘HIV AIDS’ Category

What is AIDS?

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

images.jpgAIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

Acquired – means that the disease is not hereditary but develops after birth from contact with a disease causing agent (in this case, HIV).

Immunodeficiency – means that the disease is characterized by a weakening of the immune system.

Syndrome - refers to a group of symptoms that collectively indicate or characterize a disease. In the case of AIDS this can include the development of certain infections and/or cancers, as well as a decrease in the number of certain cells in a person’s immune system.

A diagnosis of AIDS is made by a physician using specific clinical or laboratory standards.

What is HIV?

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. HIV destroys certain white blood cells called CD4+ T cells. These cells are critical to the normal function of the human immune system, which defends the body against illness. When HIV weakens the immune system, a person is more susceptible to developing a variety of cancers and becoming infected with viruses, bacteria and parasites.

How do you get infected to HIV/AIDS ?

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

HIV is passed on in the sexual fluids or blood of an infected person, so if infected blood or sexual fluid gets into your body, you can become infected. This usually happens by either having sexual intercourse with an infected person or by sharing needles used to inject drugs with an infected person. People can also become infected by being born to a mother who has HIV and a very small number of people become infected by having medical treatment using infected blood transfusions.

HIV can’t be caught by kissing, hugging or shaking hands with an infected person, and it can’t be transmitted by sneezes, door handles or dirty glasses.

Symptoms of HIV/AIDS

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

You can be HIV-positive and not realize it. Many people who are infected with HIV do not have symptoms for many years. You cannot rely on symptoms to know your HIV status.  

The following may be warning signs of HIV infection:

  • Severe weight loss
  • Fevers
  • Headaches
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty swallowing

symptoms_new.jpgThe symptoms can last for weeks or months at a time and do not go away without treatment. Since these symptoms are commonly seen in other diseases, don’t assume these are HIV/AIDS-related until you get tested. If you are experiencing these symptoms and think you might be at risk, don’t wait! See a doctor or visit your student health center and get tested!!

A positive HIV test does not mean a person has AIDS. A diagnosis of AIDS is made by a physician using certain clinical criteria. As with other diseases, early detection offers more options for preventative care and treatment.

Is there a treatment for HIV/AIDS ?

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

All the currently licensed anti-retroviral drugs, namely AZT, dd1 and ddC, have effects which last only for a limited duration. In addition, these drugs are very expensive and have severe adverse reactions while the virus tends to develop resistance rather quickly with single-drug therapy. The emphasis is now on giving a combination of drugs including newer drugs called protease inhibitors; but this makes treatment even more expensive. WHO’s present policy does not recommend antiviral drugs but instead advocates strengthening of clinical management for HIV-associated opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis and diarrhoea. Better care programmes have been shown to prolong survival and improve the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS.