What is AIDS?
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a subgroup of retrovirus. Two types of HIV have been identified; HIV-1 and HIV-2. These viruses share similar epidemiological characteristics although they are relatively distinct serologically and geographically. HIV-2 has been found to be less pathogenic than HIV-1.
The HIV virus attacks the immune system, which is the body’s defense against different types of infections and certain types of cancers, and therefore the body loses its ability to fight infectious viruses and cancers, this virus is called (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), or HIV.
The most advanced stage of HIV infection is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which can take from 8 to 10 years to develop. Those who contracted the virus can live for some years without apparent symptoms, however majority of patients in the developing countries die within three years from being diagnosed with the HIV.
Methods of infection:
How do you get HIV or AIDS?
Most commonly, people get or transmit HIV through semen and vaginal fluids during sexual intercourse without using a condom, and most of the cases worldwide are between men and women and in developed countries in particular, homosexuality is the primary means of the transmission. In addition to sexual intercourse the HIV can be transmitted through sharing drug needles contaminated with blood infected with the virus, and through transmission of blood or its products from an infected person. It is also transmitted from an infected mother to her baby before, during and immediately after birth.
Mother-to-Child transmission of HIV during Pregnancy?
Mother-to-child transmission of HIV is the spread of HIV from an HIV-infected pregnant woman to her child through the blood and infection is more likely to occur if the mother is infected recently or at an advanced stage of Aids. Likewise the HIV can be transmitted during delivery when the baby is exposed to his mother's blood and in some cases through the breast milk. Transmission of HIV from mother to her baby constitutes 30% of all cases.
Can HIV be transmitted through blood?
Yes, if it is contaminated with the virus. Currently, safe blood transfusion system is applying throughout the Kingdom by blood screening for HIV virus and others.
Can AIDS be transmitted through injection?
Yes, if injection utensils are contaminated with HIV-infected blood. Avoid using the injection unless it is a must. Make sure that the needles and syringes are kept in sterilized containers.
Can AIDS be transmitted through insect bites or usual contact with an infected person?
HIV infection cannot be transmitted through insect bites, touching, hand-shaking, sharing food and drink tools, and using same toilets, bathroom and swimming pool, working or sleeping in room with an infected person.
Can AIDS be transmitted through usual coexistence?
HIV infection can't be transmitted through normal social activities; such as shaking hands, or travelling in the same bus, or eating from the same utensils; and it is also not transmitted through hugging or kissing. Mosquitoes and insects do not spread the virus and it is not transmitted through the air or drinking.
Do sexually-transmitted diseases increase risk for HIV infection?
Yes, many of sexually-transmitted diseases (STD) increase the risks for HIV infection and its transmission to others. These risks include: increase the chances of HIV transmission by about 50-300 times in the case of a genital ulcer, and increases the likelihood of infection with HIV in the case of a genital infection for several reasons:
· The virus can spread easily through the genital ulcer in the skin or mucous membranes.
· The virus may attack many of the white blood cells in the genital secretion caused by sexually transmitted infections.
· A large amount of the virus exists in the genital ulcer and fluids (such as semen and cervical secretions) for patients with certain sexually transmitted infections such as: gonorrhea and genital herpes, syphilis and chancroid.
How HIV infection is diagnosed?
Blood tests are the most common way to diagnose HIV, looking for antibodies to the virus. The antibodies are special type of protein to fight the virus and can take the body anywhere from 1-3 months to develop them.
There are two types of antibodies testing for diagnosing HIV and AIDs, namely:
· ELISA Test, which stands for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
· Western Bolt.
The symptoms of HIV vary depending on the stage of infection. Though people living with HIV tend to be most infectious in the first few months, many are unaware of their status until later stages. The first few weeks after initial infection, individuals may experience no symptoms or an influenza-like illness including fever, headache, rash or sore throat.
As the infection progressively weakens the immune system, an individual can develop other signs and symptoms, such as swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, diarrhea and cough. Without treatment, they could also develop severe illnesses such as tuberculosis, cryptococcal meningitis, cancers and other diseases.
Behaviors and conditions that put individuals at greater risk of contracting HIV include:
· Persons having taboo sex and homosexuality;
· Having another sexually transmitted infections which cause ulcers in the vaginal organs, making it easier for the virus to enter the body;
· Sharing contaminated needles, particularly by drug users;
· Experiencing accidental needle stick injuries, including among health workers.
Is there a cure for HIV and AIDS?
There are a number of medications used to treat infections associated with AIDS; they also act to prevent viral replication. They don't cure HIV infection; rather they delay the onset of symptoms of AIDS and death.
The focus now is on combination of drugs including new drugs called protease inhibitors which makes treatment very expensive, and the current policy of the World Health Organization (WHO) doesn't recommend using anti-retroviral drugs. Instead it calls for strengthening clinical therapeutic management of opportunistic infection associated with HIV such as: tuberculosis, diarrhea, and welfare programs that have shown the best results to improve the quality of life and prolong the survival of people living with HIV AIDS.
· Avoiding sex outside of marriage, and it is also important to avoid homosexuality.
· Using condom if one of the spouses is infected with the disease.
· Don't share syringes or piercing tools or razors.
· Until now there's no cure for HIV/AIDS.