We all at some point in our lives have heard of HIV/ AIDS. It’s a disease whose name scares people and rightly so! While we all have heard of HIV, how well do we actually know the disease? Let’s learn a little more about this fascinating yet scary disease that affects millions across the globe.
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system of a human being. The virus destroys the white blood cells (which act as protection) in the blood and makes copies of itself in the cells. As the virus destroys a greater number of cells and makes more copies of itself, it gradually breaks down a person’s immune system. The individual becomes sick and ill without a properly functioning immune system.
If HIV is not treated properly, the immune system will slowly crumble and deteriorate under its influence. The immune system is the body’s line of defense. If it deteriorates, any future diseases will not be warded off.
How well HIV is treated will vary based on the patient’s age, health, and background. Unlike in the past, effective treatment is available these days for HIV affected patients. Patients can now live a normal, healthy life
these days even with HIV.
Now that we have a little bit of knowledge about HIV, let’s move on to the next topic- AIDS. Let us try and understand what AIDS is all about!
AIDS is the disease caused by HIV virus. A person is said to have AIDS when their immune system is too weak to fight off infection, and they develop certain symptoms related to AIDS. It is basically the last stage of HIV when the infection is very advanced, and, if left untreated, will lead to death.
The next question we must ask is, how is HIV transmitted?
HIV can be transmitted in the following ways:
Sexual transmission – This occurs when there is contact with infected sexual fluids. It can occur while having unprotected sex, including vaginal, oral, and anal sex or sharing sex toys with someone infected with HIV.
Perinatal transmission – A mother can pass the infection to her child during childbirth, pregnancy, and also through breastfeeding.
Blood transmission – The risk of transmitting HIV through blood transfusion is low. However, sharing and reusing syringes contaminated with HIV-infected blood is extremely hazardous.
What are some of the symptoms of HIV AIDS?
Symptoms of HIV infection:
Sweating (particularly at night)
Sometimes the infected person often experiences no symptoms, feels well, and appears healthy.
Symptoms during the last stage of HIV:
Fever >100 °F
Shortness of breath
Unintentional weight loss
White spots on tongue or mouth
During late-stage HIV infection, the risk of developing a life-threatening illness is much greater. It should be controlled, or treated with proper medication.
There are many misconceptions about AIDS. One misconception is that it spreads by shaking hands, hugging, casual kissing, sneezing, touching unbroken skin, using the same toilet, sharing towels, sharing cutlery, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, or other forms of casual contact. We would like to stress that this is not true.
There is currently no cure or vaccine for HIV or AIDS. Treatments can slow the course of the condition and allow most infected people the opportunity to live a long and relatively healthy life.
If a person experiences any symptoms of HIV he must immediately go for the blood test. After a positive HIV diagnosis, regular blood tests are necessary to monitor the progress of the virus before starting treatment. The therapy is designed to reduce the level of HIV in the blood, which has many benefits.
HIV is treated with antiretrovirals (ARVs). The treatment fights the HIV infection and slows down the spread of the virus in the body. HIV treatment requires you to take pills on a regular schedule. Regular treatment allows patients to lead a normal and healthy life.
How can HIV be prevented ?
There are multiple ways to prevent HIV. Here are some that you can follow and keep yourself safe!
1.Having sex without a condom can put a person at risk of being infected with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. It can also be caught from sharing sex toys with someone infected with HIV. Condoms should be used during sexual intercourse.
2. Strategies such as needle- exchange programs are used to reduce the infections caused by drug abuse. If someone needs to use a needle, ensure that it is clean, unused and unshared.
3. Exposure to HIV can be controlled by taking precautions to reduce the risk of exposure to contaminated blood. Frequent and thorough washing of the skin immediately after being contaminated with blood or other bodily fluids can reduce the chance of infection.
4. Health education is an important factor in reducing the spread of this virus so that people start taking precautions.
Now that you know a little more about HIV, take this knowledge forward and spread awareness amongst others to take precautions and lead a healthy life!