In this Health Article:
- What Causes AIDS?
- What Are the Types of AIDS?
- What Are the Symptoms of AIDS?
- What Are the Diagnosis & Tests for AIDS?
- What Are the Treatments Available for AIDS?
- How Do You Cope Up with AIDS?
- What Are the Ways to Prevent AIDS?
- Medications for AIDS Available at InternationalDrugMart.com
- Latest Research about AIDS
- Self Care
IntroductionAIDS (Acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is a dreaded disease. A person who is HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) infected can develop AIDS. It may take many years for a person, sometimes, 10 years or more, infected with HIV to have symptoms. The average incubation period for HIV is 10 years. During this period, the body strives hard to get rid of the virus, but is only able to keep it under control. Gradually, the immune system begins to lose its capability to fight against HIV. The immune system weakens signaling an advanced state of HIV infection, which is when AIDS begin. During the symptom free period, the infected person can be actively transmitting the virus to others.
What Causes AIDS?Human immunodeficiency virus causes AIDS. If HIV is not detected and treated, it can develop rapidly and weaken the immune system. When HIV enters the body, it destroys white blood cells called CD4+ T cells. These cells are particularly important in the immune system. CD4+ T cells defend the body against illness. For a person infected with HIV, the number of functional CD4+ T cells gradually decline thus leading to the last stage of infection known as AIDS.
There are many ways of HIV to get transmitted from one person to another. Blood, pre-cum, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk are body fluids found to contain concentrations of HIV. All these have been linked to transmission of the virus. The virus should have direct access to the bloodstream. Activities where HIV has direct access to a person’s bloodstream include vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse and indulging in oral sex. These are activities wherein the pre-cum, semen and vaginal secretions and menstrual blood can get into a person’s mouth, affect sores, gum disease or cuts and enter the blood stream. Besides these, HIV can come in contact with the blood stream through needle sharing and sometimes even blood transfusion. A HIV infected pregnant woman can pass the virus to her fetus during pregnancy or delivery, through blood circulation and while nursing. Other possibilities include through artificial insemination, accidental needle injury and organ transplantation. Thus, HIV is not transmitted through casual contact.
What Are the Types of AIDS?There are two types of HIV, HIV-1 and HIV-2. Both are classified based on genetic differences and similarities. HIV-1 is predominant worldwide. Whenever people refer to HIV, it is understood to be HIV-1. HIV-2 is concentrated in West Africa.
What Are the Symptoms of AIDS?As explained earlier, some people with HIV infection show no signs of symptoms for years- the time of exposure to HIV and development of AIDS. Symptoms of AIDS occur only when HIV damages the immune system. Symptoms associated with HIV infection are:
Frequent fevers, sweats (particularly at night), swelling of the lymph nodes of the arm pits, groins, neck, chest and abdomen, chills, weakness, rapid weight loss, fatigue, nausea, poor appetite, thrush, diarrhea, shortness of breath, and neurological and emotional symptoms such as numbness, tingling sensation in the hands and feet, confusion, memory loss and depression. In an advanced stage, AIDS can lead to rare cancers, which a healthy immune system otherwise will not get affected.
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What Are the Diagnosis & Tests for AIDS?If you think you have been exposed to HIV infection, testing is the only way to confirm AIDS. The test doesn’t find the virus but looks for antibodies to the virus. Because, these antibodies are made in the blood when an infection happens. The diagnosis can be done using blood, saliva or by using body cells (from the inside of the cheek). At present, there are three tests normally undertaken to diagnose AIDS.
ELISA: Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay test is the first test done to detect infection with HIV. If the test result is positive, the person is advised to take the second test to confirm results of the first test. If the test result is negative, the person is not HIV infected and testing ends here.
Western blot: A test that is conducted to confirm the results of ELISA. The test detects protein that circulates in the body after a person is infected with HIV.
PCR: The Polymerase Chain Reaction test is conducted to detect specific DNA and RNA sequences that indicate the presence of HIV in the genetic structure of a person infected with HIV. The reason being, after HIV infection, RNA and DNA from the HIV circulate in the blood. Hence, the presence of DNA and RNA “pieces” indicates the presence of HIV.
What Are the Treatments Available for AIDS?Research is in progress to discover the ‘wonder drug’ that can completely cure a person of an HIV infection. Doctors only prescribe medicines to treat the infections that surface after a person is infected with HIV. These medicines attack HIV and prevent the virus from multiplying. Antiretroviral drugs are available in three classes and drastically help contain the viral load in the blood. This treatment is also referred to as HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy). The three classes of antiretroviral drugs are:
Nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors: Drugs under this class include Zidovudine (Retrovir, AZT), Lamivudine (Epivir, 3TC), Didanozine (videx, ddl), Zalcitabine (Hivid, ddc), Stavudine (Zerit, d4T) and Abacavir (Ziagen).
Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors: Drugs under this class include Nevirapine (Viramune) Delavirdine (Rescriptor) and Efavirenz (Sustiva).
Protease inhibitors: Drugs under this class include Saquinavir (Fortovase), Ritonavir (Norvir), Indinavir (Crixivan), Nelfinavir (Viracept), Amprenavir (Agenerase) and Lopinavir (Kaletra). Besides antiretroviral drugs, doctors may prescribe mood stabilizing medications and anti-psychotic medication for those with psychotic symptoms.
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How Do You Cope Up with AIDS?You are not alone. AIDS is prevalent worldwide. According to the Joint United Nations Project on HIV/AIDS, AIDS newly infected 2.5 million people worldwide in the year 2007. Now that you are diagnosed with a chronic condition, take steps to cope with Aids. Use our tips to cope with AIDS.
- See your doctor regularly and do not miss or postpone appointments.
- Your overall health is very important. Eat right foods, sleep well, relax and avoid stress.
- Never skip taking medications.
- Don’t always think about AIDS and let it affect you emotionally.
- Feel comfortable to make some life-style adjustments including keeping away from alcohol or cigarette smoking.
- Consider joining a local community group or hotline that offers support to those infected with HIV/AIDS.
- Extinguish your anguish by finding ways to release or divert attention. Try options such as talking to friends, pursuing a hobby like painting, engaging in physical exercise such as running, lifting weights or pummeling a punching bag.
- Focus on matters that helps boost self-esteem and self-confidence
What Are the Ways to Prevent AIDS?Intensive research is carried on to find ways and methods to prevent HIV infection. The best way to prevent HIV/AIDS is by removing as well as reducing the factors that may result in AIDS. Use these tips to prevent AIDS.
- The chances of males who are circumcised to be HIV infected are about 60% less than those who are not circumcised.
- Always opt for safer sex techniques, tools and methods.
- Prefer maintaining a healthy sexual relationship.
- Avoid narcotics involvement, as the syringe may not be clean always. If not at least stop sharing needles.
- Abstain from sex when you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Before donating blood or receiving blood, confirm if the blood does not contain any infection.
- As a precautionary and pro-active measure, take a blood test at least once a year.
- Be aware of the health of your sex partner.
- Use FDA approved gel or pills to prevent the transmission of HIV and Herpes Simplex.
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Latest Research about AIDSResearch and clinical trials with regard to HIV/AIDS is a continuous process. The latest findings suggest that people of African descent are more susceptible to infection with HIV. This confirms the genetic trait connection. Another finding is related to vaginal microbicides being developed as a new drug resistance for women. Researchers feel that vaginal microbicides may benefit men more than women.
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Self CareHere are few simple HIV/AIDS self-care tips that can be followed to avoid getting infected as well as to prevent transmission post diagnosis with HIV/AIDS.
- Choose your sexual partners and practice safe sex.
- Never use intravenous drugs or share needles.
- Ask for sterile needles when getting tattooed or body pierced.
- Opt for immediate HIV/AIDS test in case of exposing to HIV/AIDS infection.
- If diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, follow doctor’s recommendations.
- Also, use a condom and tell your partner that you are HIV infected.
- Post diagnosis with HIV/AIDS, never donate blood, semen or any organs.