What is HIV/AIDS?
HIV is one of the group of viruses known as retroviruses. After getting into the body, the virus kills or damages the CD4 cells which the immune system uses to protect us from illnesses. The body tries to keep up by making new cells or trying to contain the virus, but eventually the virus overpowers the defences of the immune system and progressively destroys the body's ability to fight infections.
When the immune system does not work properly, the patient can develop serious, often deadly, infections known as opportunistic infections (OIs). Death is often caused by OIs or other long-term effects of HIV.
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV is transmitted when body fluids (such as blood, semen, vsaginal secretions and breast milk) of an infected person come in contact with a healthy person’s tissues such as those lining the vagina, anal area, mouth, or eyes (the mucus membranes), or with a break in the skin, such as from a cut or puncture by a needle.
The most common ways in which HIV spreads include—
The truth about transmission
You cannot get HIV or AIDS—
Who can contract HIV?
It is estimated that about 21% of HIV-positive people do not know that they have contracted the disease. This is because people look and feel healthy and do not think they are at risk. But the truth is that anyone, irrespective of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, or social or economic class, can contract HIV.
What are the symptoms of HIV?
While our immune system can fight off most viruses out of our body, it cannot get rid of human immunodeficiency virus. A person with HIV can live for many years with no signs of disease because the symptoms are mild and most people dismiss it as a cold or flu. But without treatment, HIV will eventually wear down the immune system. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the final stage of HIV infection.
Symptoms of HIV infection can include:
How to prevent the spread of HIV?
How to get tested for HIV?
When a person gets infected by HIV, his/her immune system makes antibodies against the disease. To get an accurate result, it's necessary to wait for about three to six months after their last potential exposure to HIV. That is because the immune system can take up to eight weeks to make antibodies.
Following tests can confirm the presence or absence of HIV:
What is the cure for HIV?
There is no known cure for HIV and AIDS. However, medications are now available that interfere with the virus's ability to reproduce. It helps the immune system to stay healthy and fight infection. But, these medications cannot rid the body entirely of HIV.
Since there are no medications or vaccines to prevent HIV infection, the best way to prevent it is by using sterile needles and practicing safe sex. After all, prevention is better than cure.