AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) – Currently No Cure

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is caused by infection with a virus called HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) originated somewhere in the African rainforest as an infection of chimpanzees and monkeys. In the twentieth century it transmitted into the species barrier from monkeys into humans. AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) was first declared as an epidemic in June 1981. The virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) was identified by two teams of French and American scientists in 1983–1984. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection progresses in stages as the virus gradually weakens the body’s immune system. It takes an average of eleven years for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection to progress to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

Contracting of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

Contracting HIV Virus

The virus can be found in the blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk of infected people. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is also found in saliva, sweat, and tears, though not in high enough amounts to transmit the virus to another person. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) may be transmitted through unprotected sex. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) can also be passed on through parental infection, where mothers who have HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)are at risk of giving the disease to the baby during birth. The risk of parental infection is declining with new treatments.

Symptoms of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

Symptoms of AIDS

Patient may have no symptoms at all or a mild flu-like illness with fever and headache within a few days or weeks of getting infected. These symptoms usually go away without treatment and the person feels normal, even though he or she can transmit the infection to others. The infected person may continue to feel well for a period ranging from a few months to several years.

  • Fever
  •  Headache
  •  Swollen Glands (Early)
  •  Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  •  Night Sweats
  • Infections (Later)

Symptoms of full-blown AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) include:

  • Soaking night sweats
  • Fever over 100°F (37.7°C) that lasts for several weeks
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision or other vision problems
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Swelling in the lymph nodes that lasts for three months or longer

Diagnosis of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

English: Diagram of the HIV virus.
English: Diagram of the HIV virus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two-Step Process

  1. A preliminary test. The first test is a screening test, which usually involves taking a sample of the patient’s blood. There are newer screening tests that can use a sample of the person’s urine or saliva. These rapid screening tests look for antibodies to the HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) virus and give results in about twenty minutes.
  2. A Final Confirmatory Test. If the person tests positive for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection, a more specific second test, called a Western Blot Test, is performed. This test uses a blood sample to identify antibodies against HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).

Treatment of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)

currently there  is no cure for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection or AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). The doctor will measure the amount of virus in the patient’s blood. This level is called the viral load. The viral load helps the doctor to decide when to start drug treatment for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). The current method of treatment is called highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART. HAART is not a cure for AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), but it reduces the viral load, improves the patient’s overall quality of life and extends life expectancy.

The first drug licensed for fighting HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) was zidovudine, better known as AZT, which gained approval in 1987. Multiple studies found that AZT reduced opportunistic infections and increased CD4+ cell counts and survival among people with AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). However, the positive effects of AZT did not last very long, and a major investigation known as the Concorde Study found that people who started taking the drug at an early stage of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection, before the onset of symptoms, received little or no long-term benefit.

Precautions for AIDS

  • Limit yourself to a single partner who is known to be uninfected and is faithful.
  • Use a condom
  • Do not exchange needles or inject illegal drugs.
  • Health care workers should follow guidelines for protecting against needle sticks and other accidental exposures to body fluids that may be ontaminated with HIV.
  • Get tested for HIV infection after engaging in high-risk activities
  • In case the test results are positive, inform partners.
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