HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus has haunted the entire world for almost 3.5 decades now, as the first few cases were identified in the year 1981. Numerous people have become a victim of this deadly virus and what makes it worse is that cure is still non-existent. Though the process of virus replication can be slowed down using various drugs the virus still remains hostile and fatal.
HIV and AIDS – Terms of confusion
There has been a lot of confusion about both these terms and are thought to be the same. HIV is a kind of virus that attacks the T-Cells of the Immune system. AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) on the other hand is a syndrome that is developed once the HIV infection progresses. So, it can be said that HIV is the cause of AIDS or AIDS is the advanced stage of HIV infection.
HIV and AIDS – A Few Facts
- The first 5 cases were reported in Los Angeles in 1981.
- No cure available yet.
- HIV is found in various body fluids including semen, blood, vaginal & anal fluid, and breast milk.
- The most common cause of spreading HIV is unprotected sex with a partner infected with HIV.
- It takes 10 to 15 years for HIV patients to develop AIDS, but high damage to the immune system will be done until then.
- Early diagnosis and effective antiretroviral treatment can help the patient in living a normal and healthy life.
HIV – How does it become fatal?
The HIV virus attacks the immune system of the patient and left him without a natural defense system against various infections and diseases. The HIV virus destroys the T-Helper cells (A type of White Blood Cell) by making copies of itself in each cell. The HIV infection is progressive in nature and at a very advanced stage, it turns into AIDS. By this stage, the immune system of the patient becomes so weak that it is unable to fight against any infection or diseases ultimately leading to death.
What causes HIV to spread?
There have been several myths about the spreading of HIV by shaking hands or using somebody’s towels and whatnot. All these ridiculous propaganda are baseless and do not have any evidence to support them. The following are the only causes of HIV transmission and must be kept in mind:
- Sexual Transmission: This is the most common cause of HIV transmission. In this transmission, the HIV spreads by contact with the HIV infected sexual secretions (Semen, vaginal fluids and anal fluids). The contact with these secretions can happen while having unprotected sex including vaginal, anal, oral sex. HIV can also be transmitted by sharing sex toys with a person infected with HIV.
- Perinatal Transmission: This type of transmission is from mother to child during the time of childbirth or pregnancy. This transmission can also happen by breastfeeding the child if the mother is infected with the HIV virus.
- Blood Transmission: Though the chances of this type of transmission are extremely low nowadays due to various precautions taken by medical institutions, but can be a possibility. Use of needles with infected blood can transmit the HIV virus from one person to another and also, receiving tattoos and piercing can transmit the infection. The drug users using needles with multiple partners are highly prone to this transmission.
As prevention is the only cure in case of HIV, it must be taken seriously and the following points must be kept in mind:
- Say no to unprotected sex: The unprotected sex can elevate the chances of getting HIV infection if your partner is infected with HIV. The use of condoms must be highly encouraged.
- No needle sharing: The needles must not be shared for drug use as HIV can be transmitted easily using needle sharing.
- Planned Delivery: If the mother is infected, through effective treatment and planning, HIV transmission from mother to child can be prevented.
- Bottle-Feeding: If the mother is infected with HIV, the breastfeeding must be replaced by bottle-feeding.
- Educating: Educating people about the causes and prevention of HIV can lead to a healthier world.
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Reference article: What are the Types and Symptoms of HIV , AIDsBook STD Test Near YoU DSH Wellness A Profile Package