Thursday, July 2, 2020
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AIDS

AIDS( Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a condition linked to HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus that affects the natural functioning of the body's immune system.  It attacks the 'T-cells' which are vital for the body's ability to fight off disease. The virus is found in blood and body fluids such as semen and vaginal secretions. The virus is transmitted mainly by sexual intercourse but can  also be passed on when secretions containing HIV is transferred to a body of a non-infected person. One should check for HIV when he/she has contracted one of several diseases indicating a significant breakdown in the immune system. 

Symptoms
Symptoms of HIV infection may develop from three weeks to three months after the infection. Thus it is impossible to ever truly know if a partner is infected or not.  Infection may initially cause symptoms such as high fever, fatigue, night sweats and swollen glands, dry cough unrelated to smoking or flu, persistent diarrhea or bloody stools, weight loss, fungal infections, vomiting etc. The symptoms vary greatly from person to person. In later stages, further serious infections such as Herpes, Meningitis, Pneumonia and Cancers occur.  

Tests
The only reliable way to determine whether or not you are infected with HIV is to have a blood test for HIV done. If you have HIV antibodies in your blood, it means that you have an HIV infection or you are  HIV-Positive. Sometimes a person can be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus. They may have the virus but show no symptoms and remain well but eventually after a long period say 8-10 years they succumb to the dieease
 
How the virus is transmitted 

The virus can be transmitted by:-

  • Having sex with an infected person.
  • Sharing a needle i.e. shooting drugs with someone who's infected.
  • Being born when the mother is infected, or drinking the breast milk of an infected woman.
  • Getting a transfusion of infected blood or through contact of blood.
All these can increase the chances of infection. Infection cannot be transmitted by shaking hands, hugging or sharing a toilet seat or towel with an infected person. Sexually active man can minimize the risk of contracting HIV by avoiding numerous casual relationship and always practicing safe sex.

Treatment 
There is no effective vaccine against Human Immunodeficiency Virus and hence no complete cure for the disease. Intense research is going on to restore the immune system to normalcy in HIV patients and to find and effective vaccine. Asymptomatic carriers may be treated with anti-retroviral therapy to delay the onset and lessen the impact of HIV infections. Drugs used include Zidovudine ( ZDU) and Dideoxyinosine (DDI) but both have a range of toxic side effects. Other treatment is for  the infections and cancers that may arise due to HIV which improve the quality of life of AIDS victims.





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