Essay On HIV/AIDS
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AIDS the abbreviation for the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a life-threatening condition that is often caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The HIV damages the immune systems, and it goes ahead to interfere with the ability of the body to fight pathogens that cause disease (Great Britain, 1994). AIDS is the last stage of HIV. HIV can be described as a sexually transmitted infection and can also be spread when one comes into contact with infected blood of another person. This paper is going to carefully analyze the disease that is HIV/AIDS, its transmission mode, the clinical manifestations, as well as the existing treatment.
HIV is often found in the body fluids of an infected person, and these fluids include and are not restricted to semen, anal and vaginal fluids, breast milk and blood. The HIV virus can be described as a very fragile virus outside the human body as it can only last about 7 seconds if it does not come into contact with human fluids. The most common way in which people acquire HIV is through anal and vaginal intercourse. According to statistics almost 80% of the world's new infections are as a result of vaginal sex without the use of a condom (Constanzi, 1989). Other major way in which a person can acquire HIV include the use of a contaminated needle or any other relevant injecting equipment, the transmission of fluids that occur from the mother to the baby during pregnancy, birth or even during the process of breastfeeding. Lastly, it is through blood transfusion with an infected person (Great Britain, 1994). It is of importance to note that indeed it can take several years before the HIV in the body weakens the body to the point at which the person can be clinically said to have AIDS.
It is imperative to note that the symptoms of HIV/AIDS often vary and this depends on the level and phase that the infection is in. The majority of persons that are infected with HIV virus often develop flu-like illness within a month or two after the virus has entered the body (Constanzi, 1989). This illness is often referred to as primary or acute HIV infection and in much cases it often lasts for several weeks. Some of the possible signs and symptoms include Fever, Muscle aches, Chills, Sore throat, Joint Pain, Diarrhea, Night sweats and rash. It is of the essence to note that although these symptoms at this time of the HIV infection are mild enough and they might go unnoticed, the amount of virus that exists at this time is extremely high and it is referred to as viral load. Therefore, the HIV often spreads more efficiently during the primary infection as compared to any other stage.
The clinical latent infection is the next stage of infection and in this stage, there are some people that experience persistent swelling of lymph nodes that occur during clinical latent HIV. However, it is imperative to understand that in this stage, there are often no specific signs and symptoms (Weiss & Rowland-Jones, 2001). HIV however remains in the body and in the different infected white blood cells that were trying to fight it. The clinical latent infection stage is the longest, and it often lasts to eight or ten years. There are however people that progress to AIDS much sooner than others (Constanzi, 1989).
The progression to AIDS is the last stage, and if one has not received treatment for the HIV infection, then the disease often progresses to AIDS in about ten years (Weiss & Rowland-Jones, 2001). It is imperative to note that by the time the AIDS develops, the immune system is often extremely damaged, and this, therefore, makes a person susceptible to different opportunistic infections. These are disease that would not normally trouble a person who has a health immune system (Constanzi, 1989). The signs as well as symptoms of these infections often include persistent coughs, chronic diarrhea; persistent white spots in tongue and mouth, headaches, weight loss, skin rashes coupled with bumps and sometimes one might feel persistent and unexplained fatigue (Great Britain, 1994).
The only way that one can find whether he or she is HIV positive is through an HIV test. The HIV is commonly diagnosed through the testing of one's blood as well as antibodies for the virus. Recently, there is the use of a new test that checks for a HIV antigen, a protein which is produced by the virus immediately after an infection and this can often confirm the diagnosis within several days of infection (Weiss & Rowland-Jones, 2001). There is also the use of CD4 count that are the white blood cells that are targeted by the HIV Virus. If they decrease then it is a sign of active HIV virus in the body.
Treatment and drugs
It is of importance to understand that there exists no cure for HIV/AIDS; however, there exists a variety of drugs that are used to control the virus (Constanzi, 1989). The drugs block the HIV Virus in some way and consequently the decrease the pace at which the HIV attacks the white blood cells and reduces the power of the immune system.
In conclusion, HIV/AIDS is a disease that currently has no cure but there exists several treatments that help in the prolonging of the life of the person that is infected. HIV/AIDS is transmitted through sexual intercourse with an infected person, exchange of blood or body fluids either through transfusion or use of needles and from mother to child (Constanzi, 1989). The signs and symptoms of the disease often vary from person. The only way for a person to know whether or not her or she has HIV/AIDS is through testing of his or her blood or saliva.
Weiss, R., Adler, M. W., & Rowland-Jones, S. L. (January 01, 2001). The changing face of HIV and AIDS. British Medical Bulletin.
Great Britain. (January 01, 1994). The housing aspects of AIDS and HIV infection.
Constanzi, G. (January 01, 1989). Pathology of HIV infection. Medicinski Razgledi. Supplement, 28, 43-53.