HIV and AIDS
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), a health condition in which a person is affected by a series of diseases because of poor immunity. HIV by itself is not an illness and does not instantly lead to AIDS. An HIV infected person can lead a healthy life for several years before he or she develops AIDS. AIDS is a health condition that results from the deficiency in the body's immunity following HIV infection.
The origin of AIDS and HIV has puzzled scientists ever since the illness first came to light in the early 1980s. The first known case of AIDS can be traced to the US in the early 1980s when a number of gay men in New York and California suddenly began to exhibit infections and cancers that seemed stubbornly resistant to any treatment. Though it did not have a name at that time, it quickly became obvious that all the men were suffering from a common syndrome.
Why should I be aware of this?
- A worldwide problem, the AIDS epidemic is one of the most destructive health crises of modern times.
- It has ravaged families and communities throughout the world.
- By 2005, more than 25 million people had died and an estimated 39 million were
living with HIV.
- There are a lot of myths associated with AIDS which need to be addressed at least on humane grounds.
How does this affect me?
- AIDS-related deaths are altering the age structure of populations in severely affected countries.
- In developing countries with low levels of HIV and AIDS, most deaths occur among the very young and very old.
- AIDS primarily strikes adults in their prime working-ages—people who were infected as adolescents or young adults—shifting the usual pattern of deaths and distorting the age structure in some countries.
- Because AIDS deaths are concentrated in the 25 to 45 age group, communities with high rates of HIV infections lose disproportionate numbers of parents and experienced workers and create gaps that are difficult for society to fill.
- Women are more vulnerable than men in some regions, and their deaths rob families of the primary caregivers.
- In sub-Saharan Africa and in the Caribbean, where the virus is spread predominantly through heterosexual contact, HIV infections are higher among women than among men.
All about HIV and AIDS
HIV infection refers to the time period when a person has acquired the virus. The lifetime of infection refers to HIV infection. AIDS refers to the endpoint of HIV infection, usually on average, around five to ten years after someone's acquired HIV infection, and at that point their immune system has been devastated. AIDS patients have very low white blood cells that help fight infections.
How does HIV spread?
- It is usually through sexual intercourse.
- Blood to blood contact
- Sharing needles or having transfusions
- A mother to her un-born baby
- if the mother is undiagnosed, then HIV infection can spread from the mother's breast milk to the baby.
- Sexual interaction which can be either vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse. The risk is higher when it comes to vaginal and anal intercourse. It can be between men and women or men and men.
Who is at risk?
HIV is starting to affect more and more children, especially runaways. You are at high risk for AIDS if you:
- Are a drug user
- A homosexual
- A hemophiliac
- A female prostitute
- Had blood transfusions between 1983 and 1985.ymptoms of HIV and AIDS
Sympoms of HIV
- A person can acquire HIV, and it can really take years before they develop any symptoms at all.
- When people show some symptoms of HIV, generally that indicates that they are in the advanced stage of the disease, and that may mean they have had the HIV infection for years.
- They might flu-like illness.
- People may have severe headaches.
- Generally people report being pretty sick; they may have to be in bed, miss work, miss school.
Symptoms of AIDS
People with AIDS typically have some symptoms of their HIV infection.
- They might have weight loss.
- They might have dry skin.
- They might have thrush, a coating in their mouth that indicates fungus that is overgrowing in the mouth.
- In more severe cases, they may have night sweats.
- They may have pneumonias.
- They may have infections that are sort of unusual for people with normal immune systems to have.
What should someone do if they find they are HIV positive
HIV is no longer a death sentence. It does not mean the same thing it meant in the 1990s. Now there are medicines that can keep people alive for decades, after they are infected. Doctors advise patients to be optimistic as one does not know what kind of developments might be seen over the next ten, 15, 20 years that will extend their lives.
To protect yourself from AIDS
- Do not have sexual contact with many partners
- Use condoms
- Do not share needles with anyone.
- Always use diposable syringe.
- Make sure that if you are getting blood transfusion, it has been tested for HIV.
- Do not use drugs. They give you poor judgement.
What can I do?
- If you have a friend with HIV do not be scared to be friends with them.
- HIV can not be spread by sharing a computer, telephone, office equipment, or pencils with someone who has HIV.
- HIV progresses to AIDS at the same rate in all risk groups --Different risk groups progress to AIDS at substantially different rates, as do different individuals within risk groups.
- AIDS is a death sentence -- In the early 1980s and before, people with HIV/AIDS died almost before the disease could be identified. Much has changed since then. Antiretroviral therapy has made it possible for people to live for decades with HIV infection.
- HIV only affetcs gay men and drug users --HIV is an equal opportunity virus. It can affect newborn babies, women, seniors, teens and people of any race or nationality.
- HIV/AIDS can be spread by
- Casual contact with a person who has HIV
- Being tattooed
- Breathing the air around an HIV-infected person
- Toilet seats or doorknobs
- Touching, hugging, holding hands or cheek kissing an HIV-infected person
- Kissing an HIV-infected person
- Sharing silverware or plates with an HIV-infected person
- Sharing exercise equipment or playing sports with an HIV-infected person
HIV is spread only when someone is exposed to blood, semen, vaginal fluid or mother's milk from someone who is infected with HIV. The virus doesn't live long in the open environment outside the body. There is virtually no evidence that HIV infection can be spread from tears or sweat. Even saliva has a very little viral content. (The risk goes up, however, if either person has blood in their mouth from cuts, open sores or gum disease.)
HIV infection can't be spread by day-to-day contact at work, school or social settings. Shaking someone's hand, hugging them, using the same toilet, drinking from the same glass, being nearby when someone with HIV coughs or sneezes – none of these activities spreads HIV infection. Even open-mouthed kissing is relatively low risk.
During a mosquito bite, the mosquito injects its own saliva into the person it is biting. It is not injecting blood from the last person the mosquito bit.
- One new HIV infection occurs every 6 seconds of every minute of every day.
- In 2005, there were 4.9 million people newly infected with HIV; of these new infections, 700,000 occurred in children under the age of fifteen.
- In the United States, over 40,000 people are infected with HIV every year.
- AIDS is the number one cause of death for African American women aged 25 -34.
- In 2005, HIV/AIDS related illnesses caused the deaths of 3.1 million people worldwide.
- Globally, women represent half of all people living with HIV/AIDS.
- African American women accounted for 67% of estimated AIDS cases in 2004, but only 13% of the U.S. female population.
- Since the mid eighties, the proportion of AIDS cases among women has more than tripled, from 7% in 1985 to 27% in 2004.
- About two-thirds of all people estimated to be living with HIV reside in sub-Saharan Africa.
- The estimated annual number of AIDS-related deaths in the U.S. declined nearly 70% since 1995, largely due to the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy.
- UN publication
- All about AIDS
- How HIV AIDS affects populations?
- What are HIV and AIDS
- The origin of HIV
- HIV/AIDS Myth