Aids - Knowledge and Prevention!
AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is the final stage of HIV disease, which causes severe damage to the immune system.
HIV/AIDS is a devastating disease, AIDS is an acronym for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Acquired means that one contracts the infection. Immune Deficiency means the body's system, which fights diseases, has a weakness. Syndrome stands for a combination of health problems that forms the disease. AIDS is a symptom of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). HIV is a retrovirus, instead of its genetic material in DNA it is found in RNA. HIV needs cells from the host to multiply, so when the virus enters the body it seeks out a specific helper T-cell, the CD4 cell. HIV uses an enzyme, known as reverse transcriptase, which changes the RNA into DNA. A different enzyme, called integrase, inserts the viral DNA into the CD4 cell DNA. The CD4 cells send signals to the B cells (the lymphocytes that produce antibodies) and cytotoxic T lymphocytes (killer T cells). Because the CD4 cells stimulate the immune system to make antibodies, the infected CD4 cells become active and produce more of the virus. Then these new viral cells infect the new CD4 cells. Eventually the HIV virus kills more CD4 cells than the immune system can produce. Without the CD4 cells, the B cells and T cells do not know what to look for, or where to go to destroy the virus. This chain of events causes the immune system to break down.
How to check for HIV :
The only way to check for HIV is through a blood test that will specifically look for signs of HIV. A healthy person will have about 500 to 1,500 CD4 cells in a milliliter of blood. When the count is less than 200 CD4 cells, the immune system is severely compromised, and the diagnosis is the development of AIDS. Some signs of HIV are fever, night sweats, and swollen lymph nodes, which are all flu-like symptoms. As HIV progresses, and begins to be considered AIDS, one may have a fever that will not dissipate, a loss of appetite, a loss of weight, and an overall feeling of tiredness. The person with AIDS is also more liable to infections that are known as opportunistic infections. Opportunistic infections take advantage of the weakened immune system. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lists the most common infections as: Kaposis sarcoma (KP), a skin cancer; Cytomegalovirus (CMV), an eye infection; Candida, a fungal infection in the throat or vagina; and Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP), a lung infection.
How HIV spreads :
There are several ways to become infected with HIV. Having unprotected sex with someone who is infected, and sharing needles to take drugs are the most common ways people contract the virus. Babies can receive the virus during birth if the mother is infected, and also through breast milk. The least likely way to contract HIV is through blood transfusions. There are strict laws in place to test donor blood for the virus. An infected person can pass along the virus through body fluids such as blood, semen, breast milk, or vaginal fluids. The infected fluids enter the bloodstream through broken skin, or the linings of the mouth, sex organs, or anus.
When HIV has been confirmed through testing, a combination of several types of anti-HIV drugs will be prescribed. The first of these medicines is called nucleoside analog reverse transcriptase inhibitor. This drug inhibits or blocks the HIV from using the CD4 cell DNA to replicate itself. The second medicine is called a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, and also blocks the virus from using the CD4 cell DNA. The third medicine is called protease inhibitors. This medicine prevents the infected cells from being released into the body. The fourth medicine is called a fusion inhibitor and prevents the virus from entering health cells. These drugs are referred to as HAART,( highly-active, anti-retroviral therapy), that must be taken at the same time every day, and can cause their own host of side effects. The side effects from the HAART therapy could be abnormal distribution of body fat, nausea, and diarrhea. The medicines are used to control the virus from duplicating, but they do not cure HIV, and there is no cure for AIDS. HIV virus can still be spread to others when one is taking medications for the virus.