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  Hiv

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an RNA retrovirus that causes the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). A full blown AIDS is a condition in which the immune system fails and life-threatening opportunistic infections set in. The HIV directly destroys the type of white blood cell called a CD4 helper lymphocyte or the T helper cell which is a type of T lymphocyte that fights infectious diseases.

Hiv Std
Hiv


The three major modes of transmission are sexual intercourse with bodily fluid contact e.g. semen and vaginal fluid, contaminated needle puncture (blood-borne) and transmission from an infected mother to her baby at birth or through breast milk. Proper screening of blood donors before clearing the blood for transfusion is very important in eliminating the blood-borne route of spreading the virus. Certain high- risk behaviors promoting the spread of the HIV had been identified which include: unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sexual intercourse; sharing needles (including needles used for injecting steroids) and those used for tattooing. People who have another sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as syphilis, genital herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, or bacterial vaginosis are at greater risk for getting HIV during sex with infected partners.

People who have AIDS are considered immunocompromised, they are unable to fight off many infections such as tuberculosis and other kinds of rare lung infections (such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia), the membrane covering the brain (meningitis), or the brain itself (encephalitis). Because of the weakened immune system, AIDS patients tend to keep getting sicker, especially if they are not taking antiviral medications properly. Because AIDS is a lethal disease, it is very important that HIV infection should be detected early in the course of the illness to delay progression of the disease or to delay onset of opportunistic symptoms seen in AIDS.

Diagnosis of AIDS is based on the number of CD4 cells required to fight infections, or when the person has signs of specific diseases that occur in people with HIV infection.

Severe symptoms of HIV infection and AIDS may not appear for 10 years. Patients infected with HIV may not have symptoms of AIDS early in the course of illness in fact, some people may feel and look healthy for several years. However, these HIV infected asymptomatic patients may still infect others with HIV. Nevertheless, the exact length of time it takes for symptoms of AIDS to appear varies from person to person.

When a person's immune system is weakened by AIDS, the symptoms can include: extreme weakness or fatigue ; rapid weight loss ; fever of unknown origin (FUO) that lasts for several weeks; profuse sweating (diaphoresis) at night; swollen lymph glands ; minor infections that cause skin rashes and mouth, genital, and anal sores ; white spots in the mouth or throat ; chronic diarrhea ; a nagging cough ; problem with memory ; severe vaginal candidiasis (yeast infection) or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)

HIV transmission can be prevented by undertaking the following measures: sex abstinence (oral, vaginal, or anal sex); always using barrier method of contraception or use of condoms for all types of sexual intercourse; avoiding contact with the bodily fluids and avoid sharing of needles.

Most AIDS testing centers offer counseling program when you get your results, whether the test is negative or positive. They also offer both anonymous and confidential testing. As medicine is a dynamic science, newer research now focuses on developing drugs that may slow down the progress of the disease by inhibiting the growth or viral replication, hence, in the people with HIV infection now live much longer. But at present, there is still no cure for HIV and AIDS, so prevention is still the best way to avoid acquiring the disease. Combinations of antiretroviral drugs and immune system boosters have allowed many people with HIV to resist infections, stay healthy, and live longer. There is no vaccine available to prevent HIV and AIDS.

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