Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome better known as AIDS is known to be one of the talked about and frightening health condition which erupted in the past century and terrorized the whole world. According to reports, there were 36.7 million people living with HIV AIDS out of which 1.1 million people died in 2015.The exact data of people living with HIV /AIDS is not known because many people are unknown if they have the disease. It is a disease of the immune system caused due to infection with Human Immunodeficiency Virus which we know as HIV. When a person is infected by the HIV virus then the virus disrupts the immune system as a result of which the victim becomes vulnerable to various other diseases and illness. In simple words, we can say that AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which destroys the body’s ability to fight infections. As we know that there are specific cells in our body which has its responsibility to fight against any infections but this virus destroys those cells as a result of which the person becomes exposed to different other diseases and infections. We can understand about AIDS if we break Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome into different parts. The first word Acquired means that people are not born with the disease while Immune refers to the system which fights against diseases. Deficiency means less in quantity and syndrome is a collection of different problems and symptoms in the body.
Difference between HIV and AIDS
Most people have confusion between HIV and AIDS. The main thing to understand is that a person may not have AIDS even if he or she has been infected with HIV. A person can still remain healthy after being infected with HIV. The HIV infected person is diagnosed as having AIDS only if he or she gets sick due to other disease or falls ill because of HIV. People with HIV are known to be HIV infected and some may develop into AIDS. If a person’s HIV turns into AIDS then that person will have AIDS for rest of his/her life. HIV destroys the CD4 cell count of the immune system, making the infected person vulnerable to infections and cancers. AIDS is the last stage of HIV infection in which the CD4 count is less than 200 cells/mm³ or the person has AIDS-defining condition. The virus and syndrome together are commonly known as HIV AIDS. There are many known treatments in medical science today but a cure for HIV AIDS has not been found yet.
Origin of HIV AIDS:
It is said that HIV AIDS started from Africa. According to sources, it is claimed that Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) transferred from apes or chimpanzees to humans. It is probable that the virus got transferred to humans while eating the monkey’s meat. It is said to have spread rapidly by sex workers, doctors using old needles, and railway transportation.
Causes of HIV/ AIDS
The main causative agent of HIV/ AIDS is the Human Immune deficiency virus which totally destroys the human immune system. In absence of antiretroviral therapy, the virus will gradually progress to another stage. However, the rate in the way the virus may progress depends on various factors including the patient’s age, food habit, health care access, genetic inheritance or resistance ability to certain strains of HIV.
How is it transmitted?
There are several ways in which the HIV virus can transmit from one person to another. One of the most commonly known ways is unsafe sexual intercourse with the infected person. It can transmit when there is contact with sexual body fluids or secretions from rectal, genital or oral mucous membranes. It happens when one has vaginal, oral and anal sex or shares sex toys with an infected person. Similarly, HIV virus can transmit from an infected mother to her child but medical science has made certain progress which can prevent the child getting infected lately. It can also transmit through breastfeeding. Another common way of HIV transmission is Blood transmission from the infected person though it has decreased in recent times because of proper screening before blood transfusion. Sharing syringes among drug abusers, using unsafe tools for tattoo, unsafe body piercing are also the most common ways in which the virus can transmit from the infected person to others. There are many confusions and myths among the people related with HIV AIDS so what we should understand is that HIV AIDS does not spread by shaking hands, hugging, casual kissing, sneezing, touching unbroken skin, using the same toilet, sharing towels, insect bite, sharing cutlery, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or other forms of “casual contact”.
Diagnosis of HIV/AIDS
As we know that diagnosis of any disease at the right time is extremely important so that proper treatment can be started on time. In case of HIV/AIDS too, the disease can be diagnosed by conducting a blood test on the infected person. The patients’ blood can be lab tested to screen for the virus. If found positive, the blood needs to be further tested to find out how much the virus has progressed. It is also important to note that it may take up to three weeks to three months for the virus to show up in the blood test.
Preventive measures of HIV/AIDS
Millions of Dollars have already been spent to conduct research on the cure of Aids but no cure or vaccine has been discovered till date. So it is better to follow the below mentioned preventive measures to remain safe from HIV/AIDS infection.
- Refrain from unsafe sex and always use condoms.
- Avoid unsafe sexual activities with multiple sex partners.
- Do not use shared needles or syringes.
- Avoid exposure to body fluids like blood especially in case of health workers.
- Take precautions in case of an HIV infected pregnant mother.
- Spread sexual health Education and awareness about HIV/ AIDS.