What Are HIV And AIDS? How To Create Awareness

HIV stands for “human immunodeficiency virus”. It is a virus that affects the immune system of the body. Immune system is vital for a human body as it acts as a natural defense. It fights against diseases and restores the good health in an individual.  The virus destroys a type of white blood cell in the immune system called a T-helper cell, and makes copies of it inside these cells. T-helper or CD4 cells are responsible for fighting against diseases.

Stages Of HIV Infection:

There are mainly three stages of HIV infection.

  • Acute HIV infection
  • Clinical latency
  • AIDS(acquired immune deficiency syndrome)

Acute HIV infection:

This is the initial stage of the virus. It mainly starts affecting the body within 2-3 weeks. The patients tend to get some symptoms regarding the virus being infected; the symptoms include flu like fever, headache, swollen glands, sore throat, rashes, etc. These are the initial or primary HIV infection. If the patient gets correct treatment at this stage, chances are higher to be cured completely. In this stage, the virus is available in plenty in the blood stream which destroys the CD4 cells and hence the human is prone to all sorts of diseases. It is advised to not keep any sexual intercourse or transmission of fluids using needle. The viruses will get transmitted to your partner. The medicine used to treat HIV is called antiretroviral therapy or ART. With the help of this the patients can regain some of their affected cells.

Clinical latency:

After the Acute HIV stage, the infection starts moving to the next stage which is called as clinical latency or chronic HIV infection stage. The word “latency” means the stage where a virus stays and grows in a body without causing any symptoms in it. In this stage, the virus reproduces very slowly and by taking ART medications, you can withstand HIV infection for a long time without getting AIDS. Chances are there for the virus to get transmitted in this stage. If the patient is untreated, the chronic virus can advance to AIDS in ten years and sometimes it takes even lesser time for some patients.

AIDS:

This is the final stage of HIV infection and it is the most severe. If you have a damaged immune system,then you are likely to have AIDS. It occurs when the number of your CD4 cells falls below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood (200 cells/mm3).You are susceptible to one or more sensitivity towards illness, in this case. The life expectancy of a patient diagnosed with AIDS and untreated, is up to 3 years. If that person has one or more opportunistic illness, then he or she can die within one year. ART is helpful in some cases for the patients with AIDS. They can be lifesaving. If you start with ART before, you’ll not get to enter into this stage.

Symptoms Of HIV:

Many people don’t get the symptoms for years together and some develop it within 2-8 weeks. Some of the common symptoms of HIV are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Swollen glands
  • Muscle aches
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle and joints ache
  • Weakness and tiredness

Symptoms Of AIDS:

If left untreated, HIV weakens the ability to fight infection. The person becomes vulnerable to serious illnesses. This stage of infection is known as AIDS.

The major symptoms of AIDS are:

  • Blurred vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever lasting more than 1-2 weeks
  • Shortness of breathe
  • White spots on mouth and tongue
  • Severe weight loss

Causes:

The transmission of virus through bloodstream is the main cause of AIDS.There are certain ways in which the virus is transmitted. They are as follows:

  • Sexual intercourse with an affected person

If your partner has AIDS, then the virus can spread through secretions of sexual organs.

  • Blood or blood products can transmit the virus by sharing contaminated syringes and needles.
  • The virus can spread through pregnancy from mother to fetus.

Treatment:

It is advised to take Anti-HIV medications (also called antiretroviral) to slow down the hazards of HIV related diseases. When used in combinations, these medications are termed Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART). HAART combines three or more anti-HIV medications in a daily regimen, sometimes referred to as a “cocktail”. Anti-HIV medications do not cure HIV infection and individuals taking these medications can still transmit HIV to others. Anti-HIV medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fall into four classes:

  1. Nonnucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs), such as nevirappine (Viramune) and efavirenz (Sustiva), bind to and block the action of reverse transcriptase, a protein that HIV needs to reproduce.
  2.  Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs), such as zidovudine (Retrovir), tenofovir DF (Viread), and stavudine (Zerit), are faulty versions of building blocks that HIV needs to make more copies of itself. When HIV uses an NRTI instead of a normal building block, reproduction of the virus is stalled.
  3. Protease Inhibitors (PIs), such as lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra), disable protease, a protein that HIV needs reproduce itself.
  4. Fusion Inhibitors, such as enfuvirtide (Fuzeon ), are newer treatments that work by blocking HIV entry into cells.

Creating Awareness:

AIDS can be life taking so it’s really a need to create awareness amongst each other and make your life disease free. People should take adequate steps and decisions to protect themselves and make their future secured. Here are some of the ways in which a person can create awareness within him and spread it with his loved ones.

Factors You Need To Avoid:

The factors which we need to avoid after the detection of AIDS are:

  • Avoid sexual contact with more than one person
  • You shouldn’t have any sexual contact with an AIDS affected person
  • You must not consume any body secretion of the patient
  • Avoid using or sharing razors, with the affected
  • Use protection like latex condom to have sex
  • You must always use sterile based needles while doing tattoos, ear piercing and acupuncture.
  • Always clean the needle before using
  • Blood transfusion of patients is strictly prohibited
  • AIDS doesn’t spread through holding the hands of a person or communicating with them.

AIDS is thus a hazardous disorder. One need to immediately consult a doctor before it gets severe.