Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or AIDS is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This condition progressively reduces the effectiveness of the immune system. HIV is transmitted through direct contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream with a fluid containing HIV, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk. This transmission can involve anal, vaginal or oral sex, blood transfusion, contaminated hypodermic needles, exchange between mother and baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a lent virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS),a condition in humans in which the immune system begins to fail, leading to life-threatening infections.
HIV is transmitted when the virus enters the body, usually by injecting infected cells or semen. There are several possible ways of HIV/AIDS transmission
• HIV infection is spread by having sex with an infected partner. The virus can enter the body through the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis, rectum, or mouth during sex.
• HIV frequently spreads among injection-drug users who share needles or syringes that are contaminated with blood from an infected person.
• Women transmit HIV to their babies during pregnancy or birth, when infected maternal cells enter the baby''s circulation.
• HIV spread in health-care settings through accidental needle sticks or contact with contaminated fluids.
• HIV also spreads through transfusion of contaminated blood or blood components.
• People who already have a sexually transmitted disease, such as syphilis, genital herpes, chlamydial infection, gonorrhea, or bacterial vaginosis, are more likely to acquire HIV infection during sex.
Symptoms of HIV/AIDS
Symptoms are caused by the deterioration of the immune system and the decline of T cells that are the immune system''s key infection fighters. Some of the common symptoms include:
• Dry cough
• Memory loss, depression and neurological disorders
• Profound, unexplained fatigue
• Rapid weight loss
• Recurring fever or night sweats
• Red, brown, pink or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose or eyelids
• Swollen lymph glands in the armpits, groin or neck
• White spots or unusual blemishes on the tongue, in the mouth, or in the throat
• Difficult or painful swallowing
• Mental symptoms such as confusion and forgetfulness
• Nausea, abdominal cramps and vomiting
Treatment of AIDS and HIV Infection
Anti-HIV medications are used to control the reproduction of the virus and to slow the progression of HIV-related disease. When used in combinations, these medications are termed as Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART). The treatment of HIV infection and AIDS is in a highly dynamic state. The following drugs recommended for the treatment of HIV infection include.
1. Nonnucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs)
2. Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs)
3. Protease Inhibitors (PIs)
4. Fusion Inhibitors
Prevention of AIDS and HIV Infection
• Don''t have sexual contact with anyone who has symptoms of AIDS.
• Don''t have sex with prostitutes.
• Avoid having sex with anyone who has multiple sexual partners.
• Avoid oral, genital and anal contact with partner''s blood, semen, vaginal secretions, feces or urine.
• Avoid anal intercourse altogether.
• Anyone who thinks he or she is infected, or who is involved in high-risk behaviors, should not donate his/her blood, organs, tissues, or sperm as they may contain the AIDS virus.