Aids – A Horrendous Disease
“Aids, the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome has assumed an alarming proportion in the last few years, though it has been surreptitiously developing over a number of years.”
This is an age of science and technology. Scientists all over the world are endeavouring to combat diseases. They have certainly succeeded to a large extent. Human life is certainly longer today than what it used to be a few decades ago. Much however, still remains to be done. A number of terrible diseases keep on to stare the scientists in the face and the men of science stand just bewildered and confused. A rather recent discovery in this list of incurable diseases is AIDS (Acquired Immune- Deficiency Syndrome) which has created a terrible scare in the world. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS is a highly dreadful disease. It is caused by a deadly virus, which leads to total loss of resistance to viral and bacterial infection that is naturally these in the human body. Many realms and theories have been adduced to unravel the mystery shrouding the origin of AIDS, but none is perfect. The first few cases of AIDS came to light in the early eighties. A victim of disease of AIDS has founded in 1981, having very low resistance to diseases and later succumbed to pneumonia. The term AIDS was actually coined in 1982. After much debate the virus was called HIV, Human Immune Deficiency Virus.
Some Facts about AIDS:
A positive HIV test does not mean that a person has AIDS. A diagnosis of AIDS is made by a physician according to the AIDS case
Over time, infection with HIV (Human Immune Deficiency Virus) can weaken the immune system to the point causing infections. These types of infections are known as opportunistic infections. Many of the infections that cause problems or that can be life – threatening for people with AIDS are usually controlled by a healthy immune system.
What is the Difference between HIV and AIDS?
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
H – Human : because this virus can only infect human beings.
I – Immune : because the effect of the virus is to create a deficiency, a failure to work properly, within the body’s immune system.
V – Virus : because this organism is a virus which means one of its characteristics is that it is incapable of reproducing by itself. It reproduces by taking over the machinery of the human cell.
A – Acquired : because it’s a condition one must acquire or get infected with, not something transmitted through the genes.
I – Immune : because it affects the body’s immune system, the part of the body which usually works to fight germs such as bacteria and viruses.
D – Deficiency : because it makes the immune system deficient (makes it not work properly)
S – Syndrome : because someone with AIDS may experience a wide range of different disease and opportunistic infections.
How long does it take for HIV to cause AIDS ?
Currently, the average time between HIV infection and the appearance of signs that could lead to an AIDS diagnosis is 8-11 years. This time varies from person to person and can depend on many factors including a person’s health status and behaviours. Today there are medical treatments that can slow down the action of HIV that weakens the immune system. There are other treatments to prevent or cure some of the illnesses associated with AIDS. As with other diseases, early detection offers more options for treatment and preventative health care.
What’s the connection between HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases?
Having a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can increase a person’s risk of becoming infected with HIV, whether or not that STD causes lesions or cracks in the skin. If the STD infection causes irritation of the skin, cracks or sores may make it prone for HIV to enter the body during sexual contact. Even STD that causes no cracks or sores can stimulate an immune response in the genital area that can make HIV transmission more likely.
Where did HIV come from?
The most recent presentation on the origin of HIV was presented at the 6th conference on Retroviruses and opportunistic infections (Chicago, January 1999). At that conference, research was submitted and suggested that HIV had “crossed over” into the human population from a particular species of chimpanzee, probably through the blood contact that came off during hunting and field dressing of the animals. The findings of researches presented at this conference provided the strongest evidence to date that HIV-I originated in non-human primates.
We know that the virus has existed in the United States, Haiti and Africa since at least 1977-78. In 1979, rare types of pneumonia, __- cancer and other illnesses were reported by doctors in Los Angeles and New York. The common threat was that these conditions were not usually found in person with healthy immune systems. In 1982 the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially named the AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). It 1984 the virus responsible for weakening the immune system was identified as HIV (Human Immune deficiency Virus).
How do many people have HIV and AIDS world wide : Un AIDS estimates that as on December 2000, there were an estimated 36.1 million people infected with HIV/AIDS (34.7 million adults and 1.4 million children under 15). According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are between 8,00,000 and 9,00,000 people living with HIV. Through December 2000, a total of 7,74,467 cases of AIDS have been reported to the CDC, and 4,48,060 persons (representing 58% of cases) have died. It was estimated that India would have 5 million of HIV infected persons out of 40 million such people all over the world by 2000 A.D.
How can one find if he is infected with HIV?
The only way to determine is to be tested for HIV infection. One can’t rely on symptoms to know whether or not he is infected with HIV. Many people infected with HIV don’t have symptoms for many years. The symptoms associated with AIDS are similar to the symptoms of many other diseases. AIDS is a diagnosis made by a doctor based on specific tests.
Symptoms of HIV
Primary HIV infection is the first stage of this disease when the virus selectively affects the WBC (White Blood Corpusles) which play a very vital role in the immune’ responses of our bodies to fight infections. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has termed this virus as Human Immune deficiency Virus (HIV). Some researchers use the term acute HIV infection to describe the period of time between when a person is first infected with HIV and when antibodies against the virus are produced by the body (usually 6-12 weeks).
Some people newly infected with HIV experience some “flu-like” symptoms. These symptoms, which usually last for few days, might include fevers, chills, night sweats and rashes (not cold like symptoms). Other people either do not experience “acute infection”, or have symptoms so mild that they may not notice them.
The general character of the symptoms of acute infection, can easily have other than HIV, such as flu. For example, if one had some risk for HIV a few days ago and are now experiencing flu-like symptoms, HIV might be responsible for the symptoms, or might have some other viral infections.
Symptoms of AIDS
The symptoms of AIDS singly or in combination with other are as follows : persistent watery diarrhoea, loss of weight, cough with thick sputum, oral and anal ulcers, swollen glands in armpits and sides of neck, strong feelings of tiredness, fall in the number of WBC, red blood cells and blood platelets.
Activities Allowing HIV Transmission
This dreaded disease spreads mainly through homosexual and heterosexual contacts. It also spreads through the clinical transfusion of blood and through the infected syringes and needles used on drug addicts. This virus can also be transmitted to a child if the mother is infected. But AIDS is not transmitted by casual contact like superficial kissing, shaking hands, sharing toilets, utensils, hugging or by mosquito bite. In the countries of North America and Europe HIV transmission occurs mainly through homosexuality while in the countries of Africa and Asia heterosexual and unscreened blood transfusion are the major causes of infection.
How long after a possible exposure should one be tested for HIV?
Conclusive proof of AIDS requires demonstration of virus by cultures. Antibodies take 6 to 8 weeks to grow. Therefore, these tests may be performed routinely. It is detected by a simple blood test known as ELISA Test (Enysyme Linked Immune Solvent Assay Test). When two ELISA tests are consecutively positive, then Western Blot test is mandatory to confirm the diagnosis. The National CDC say that in some cases, it may take six months to seroconvert (test positive). At this point the possibility of the result would be 99.9% accurate.
Do the new drugs we hear about cure AIDS?
The first AIDS patient was detected in 1979 in New York. While in India the first case was detected (reported) in 1986. Since then the spread of HIV is increasing at a very high speed. No currently available technology can help to eliminate HIV infection from individuals with established infection. That’s why it is said that AIDS cannot be cured. Only health-education or primary prevention can be helpful in curing the AIDS.
General practitioners must be frank enough to advise on safe sex and the hazards of drug abuse. Screening of persons with high risk behaviour should be an integral part of the prevention programme. In any suspicion of unsafe sex the use of condoms must be laid stress upon, although they don’t provide 100% protection. Similarly professional blood donors must be strictly avoided. The defence against AIDS is a faithful monogamous safe sexual relationship.