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Know About AIDS - My Right To Health

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AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is not a virus but a set of symptoms (or syndrome) caused by the HIV virus. AIDS is a disease in a severe loss of the body’s cellular immunity, greatly lowering the resistance to infection & malignancy. A person is said to have AIDS when their immune system is too weak to fight off infection, and they develop certain defining symptoms and illnesses. This is the last stage of HIV, when the infection is very advanced, and if left untreated will lead to death.
History of AIDS
Careful investigation has helped scientists determine where AIDS came from. Studies have shown that HIV first arose in Africa. It spread from primates to people early in the 20th century, possibly when humans came into contact with infected blood during a chimpanzee hunt. By testing stored blood samples, scientists have found direct evidence of a human being infected as long ago as 1959.
Once introduced into humans, HIV was spread through sexual intercourse from person to person. As infected people moved around, the virus spread from Africa to other areas of the world. In 1981, U.S. physicians noticed that a large number of young men were dying of unusual infections and cancers. It is important to note that the virus is also efficiently transmitted through heterosexual activity and contact with infected blood or secretions. In Africa, which remains the centre of the AIDS pandemic, most cases are heterosexually transmitted.
Other major factors in the early days of AIDS were injection drug use (IDU) through needle sharing and transfusions of blood and blood components. Numerous hemophiliacs and surgical patients were infected through transfusions before the ability to test for the virus in donated blood became available.
In the years since the virus was first identified, HIV has spread to every corner of the globe and is one of the leading causes of infectious death worldwide. Statistics from the World Health Organization show that approximately 1.5 million people die each year from AIDS, and 240,000 of these are children. Worldwide, half of HIV-infected people are women. Two-thirds of current cases are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Some basic facts about AIDS:-
AIDS is also referred to as advanced HIV infection or late stage HIV.
AIDS is a set of symptoms and illnesses that develop as a result of advanced HIV infection which has destroyed the immune system.
Treatment for HIV means that more people are staying well, with fewer people developing AIDS.
People with AIDS have weakened immune systems that make them vulnerable to selected conditions and infections.
For people infected with HIV, the risk of progression to AIDS increases with the number of years the person has been infected. The risk of progression to AIDS is decreased by using highly effective Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) regimens.
In people with AIDS, ART improves the immune system and substantially increases life expectancy. Many patients who are treated with ART have near-normal life expectancies.
ART is a treatment that must be continued for life. It is not a cure.
It is possible for HIV to become resistant to some antiretroviral medications. The best way to prevent resistance is for the patient to take their ART as directed. If the patient wants to stop a drug because of side effects, he or she should call the physician immediately.
If a person is exposed to blood or potentially infectious fluids from a source patient with HIV, the exposed person can take medications to reduce the risk of getting HIV.
What is HIV?
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, which is our body’s natural defence against illness. The virus destroys a type of white blood cell in the immune system called a T lymphocytes (CD4 cells), and makes copies of itself inside these cells. To be diagnosed with AIDS, a person with HIV must have an AIDS-defining condition or have a CD4 count less than 200 cells/mm³ (regardless of whether the person has an AIDS-defining condition). If untreated a person’s immune system will eventually be completely destroyed. AIDS refers to a set of symptoms & illness that occur at the very final stage of HIV infection. If HIV is left untreated, it may take up to 10 or 15 years for the immune system to be so severely damaged it can no longer defend itself at all. However the speed HIV progresses will vary depending on age, health and background
Some basic facts of HIV
HIV stands for Human Immune Deficiency Virus.
There is effective antiretroviral treatment available so people with HIV can live a normal, healthy life.
The earlier HIV is diagnosed the sooner treatment can start leading to better long term health. So regular testing for HIV is important.
HIV is found in semen, blood, vaginal and fluids and breast milk.
HIV cannot be transmitted through sweat, saliva or urine.
HIV and AIDS: - Merely having HIV does not mean a person has AIDS. AIDS is an advanced stage of HIV infection and requires that the person have evidence of a damaged immune system. That evidence comes from at least one of the following:
The presence of an AIDS-defining condition
Measuring the CD4 cells in the body and showing that there are fewer than 200 cells per ml of blood
A laboratory result showing that fewer than 14% of lymphocytes are CD4 cells
It is important to remember that any diagnosis of AIDS requires a confirmed, positive test for HIV.
Where did HIV come from?
Scientists identified a type of chimpanzee in West Africa as the source of HIV infection in humans. They believe that the chimpanzee version of the SIV most likely was transmitted to humans and mutated into HIV when humans hunted this chimpanzee for meat and came into contact with their infected blood. Over decades, the virus slowly spread across Africa and later into other parts of the world.
The earliest known case of infection with HIV-1 in a human was detected in a blood sample collected in 1959 from a man in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. (How he became infected is not known).Genetic analysis of this blood sample suggested that HIV-1 may have stemmed from a single virus in the late 1940s or early 1950s.
We know that the virus has existed in the United States since at least the mind to late 1970s. From 1979- 1981 rare types of pneumonia, cancer, and other illnesses were being reported by doctors in Los Angeles and New York among a number of male patients who had sex with other men. These were conditions not usually found in people with healthy immune systems.
In 1982, public health officials began to use the term “acquired immunodeficiency syndrome”, or AIDS, to describe the occurrences of opportunistic infections, Kaposi’s sarcoma (a kind of cancer), and Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia in previously healthy people. Formal tracking(surveillance) of AIDS cases began that year in the united States.
In 1983, scientists discovered the virus that causes AIDS. The virus was at first named HTLV-III/LAV(human T-cell lymphotropic virus type III/lymphadenopathy associated virus) by an International scientific committee. This name was later changed to HIV(human immunodeficiency virus).
For many years scientists theorized as to the origins of HIV and how it appeared in the human population, most believing that HIV originated in other primates. Then in 1999, an international team of researchers reported that they discovered the origins of HIV-1, the predominant strain of HIV in the developed world. A subspecies of chimpanzees native to west equatorial Africa had been identified as the original source of the virus. The researchers believe that HIV- 1 was introduced into the human population when hunters became exposed to infected blood.
How HIV is spread?
Most commonly, people get or transmit HIV through sexual behaviours and needle or syringe use.
Only certain body fluids—blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk—from a person who has HIV can transmit HIV. These fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the bloodstream (from a needle or syringe) for transmission to occur. Mucous membranes are found inside the rectum, vagina, penis, and mouth.
Sharing needles or syringes, rinse water, or other equipment (works) used to prepare drugs for injection with someone who has HIV. HIV can live in a used needle up to 42 days depending on temperature and other factors.
Less commonly, HIV may be spread
From mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. Although the risk can be high if a mother is living with HIV and not taking medicine, recommendations to test all pregnant women for HIV and start HIV treatment immediately have lowered the number of babies who are born with HIV.
By being stuck with an HIV-contaminated needle or other sharp object. This is a risk mainly for health care workers.
In extremely rare cases, HIV has been transmitted by
Oral sex—putting the mouth on the penis, vagina, or anus. In general, there is a little to no risk of getting HIV from oral sex. But transmission of HIV, though extremely rare, is theoretically possible if an HIV-positive man ejaculates in his partner’s mouth during oral sex.
Receiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV. This was more common in the early years of HIV.
Eating food that has been pre-chewed by an HIV-infected person. The contamination occurs when infected blood from a caregiver’s mouth mixes with food while chewing. The only known cases are among infants.
Being bitten by a person with HIV. Each of the very small number of documented cases has involved severe trauma with extensive tissue damage and the presence of blood. There is no risk of transmission if the skin is not broken.
Contact between broken skin, wounds, or mucous membranes and HIV-infected blood or blood-contaminated body fluids.
Some of the wrong thoughts
HIV is NOT transmitted:

By hugging, shaking hands, sharing toilets, sharing dishes, or closed-mouth or “social” kissing with someone who is HIV-positive.
Through saliva, tears, or sweat that is not mixed with the blood of an HIV-positive person.
By mosquitoes, ticks or other blood-sucking insects.
Through the air.
HIV symptoms:-
For the most part , the symptoms of HIV are the result of infections caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites. Within a month or two of HIV entering the body, 40% to 90% of people experience flulike symptoms known as acute retroviral syndrome (ARS).
But sometimes HIV symptoms don't appear for years—sometimes even a decade—after infection."In the early stages of HIV infection, the most common symptoms are none," says Michael Horberg, MD, director HIV/AIDS for Kaiser Permanente, in Oakland, Calif.
Here are some signs that you may be HIV-positive.
Fever
One of the first signs of AIDS can be a mild fever, up to about 102 degrees F.
The fever, if it occurs at all, is often accompanied by other usually mild symptoms, such as fatigue, swollen lymph glands, and a sore throat.
Fatigue
The inflammatory response generated by your besieged immune system also can cause you to feel tired and lethargic. Fatigue can be both an early and later sign of HIV.
Achy muscles, joint pain, swollen lymph nodes
ARS is often mistaken for the flu, mononucleosis, or another viral infection, even syphilis or hepatitis.
That's not surprising: Many of the symptoms are the same, including pain in the joints and muscles and swollen lymph glands.
Lymph nodes are part of your body's immune system and tend to get inflamed when there's an infection. Many of them are located in your armpit, groin, and neck.
Skin rash
Skin rashes can occur early or late in the course of HIV/AIDS.
"If [the rashes] aren't easily explained or easily treated, you should think about having an HIV test," Dr. Horberg says.
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea
Anywhere from 30% to 60% of people have short-term nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea
Weight loss
Once called "AIDS wasting," weight loss is a sign of more advanced illness and could be due in part to severe diarrhoea.
A person is considered to have wasting syndrome if they lose 10% or more of their body weight and have had diarrhoea or weakness and fever for more than 30 days, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Dry cough
A dry cough was the first sign Ron had that something was wrong. He at first dismissed it as bad allergies.
But it went on for a year and a half—and kept getting worse. Benadryl, antibiotics, and inhalers didn't fix the problem. Neither did allergists.
Pneumonia
The cough and the weight loss may also presage a serious infection caused by a germ that wouldn't bother you if your immune system was working properly.
Night sweats
These can be even more common later in infection and aren't related to exercise or the temperature of the room.
Similar to the hot flashes that menopausal women suffer, they're also hard to dismiss, given that they soak your bedclothes and sheets.
Nail changes
Another sign of late HIV infection are nail changes, such as clubbing (thickening and curving of the nails), splitting of the nails, or discoloration (black or brown lines going either vertically or horizontally).
Yeast infections
Another fungal infection that's common in later stages is thrush, a mouth infection caused by Candida, a type of yeast.
Confusion or difficulty concentrating
Cognitive problems could be a sign of HIV-related dementia, which usually occurs late in the course of the disease. In addition to confusion and difficulty concentrating, AIDS-related dementia might also involve memory problems and behavioural issues such as anger or irritability. It may even include motor changes: becoming clumsy, lack of coordination, and problems with tasks requiring fine motor skills such as writing by hand.
Cold sores or genital herpes
Cold sores (oral herpes) and genital herpes can be a sign of both ARS and late-stage HIV infection. And having herpes can also be a risk factor for contracting HIV. This is because genital herpes can cause ulcers that make it easier for HIV to enter the body during sex. And people who have HIV tend to have more severe herpes outbreaks more often because HIV weakens the immune system.
Menstrual irregularities
Advanced HIV disease appears to increase the risk of having menstrual irregularities, such as fewer and lighter periods.
Infection with HIV also has been associated with earlier age of menopause (47 to 48 years for infected women compared to 49 to 51 years for uninfected women).
Risk factors for developing AIDS
Risks for acquiring HIV infection include behaviours that result in contact with infected blood or sexual secretions, which pose the main risk of HIV transmission. These behaviours include sexual intercourse and injection drug use. The presence of sores in the genital area, like those caused by herpes, makes it easier for the virus to pass from person to person during intercourse. HIV also has been spread to health care workers through accidental sticks with needles contaminated with blood from HIV-infected people, or when broken skin has come into contact with infected blood or secretions. Blood products used for transfusions or injections also may spread infection, although this has become extremely rare due to testing of blood donors and blood supplies for HIV. Finally, infants may acquire HIV from an infected mother either while they are in the womb, during birth, or by breastfeeding after birth.
The risk that HIV infection will progress to AIDS increases with the number of years since the infection was acquired. If the HIV infection is untreated, 50% of people will develop AIDS within 10 years, but some people progress in the first year or two and others remain completely asymptomatic with normal immune systems for decades after infection.
Antiretroviral treatment substantially reduces the risk that HIV will progress to AIDS. In developed countries, use of ART has turned HIV into a chronic disease that may never progress to AIDS. Conversely, if infected people are not able to take their medications or have a virus that has developed resistance to several medications, they are at increased risk for progression to AIDS. If AIDS is not treated, 50% of people will die within nine months of the diagnosis.
AIDS treatments :-  
There is currently no vaccine or cure for HIV or AIDS. Currently, medicines can slow the growth of the virus or stop it from making copies of itself and allow most infected people the opportunity to live a long and relatively. Although these drugs don't eliminate the virus from the body, they keep the amount of virus in the blood low. The amount of virus in the blood is called the viral load, and it can be measured by a test.
Most people who are getting treated for HIV take 3 or more drugs. This is called combination therapy or "the cocktail." (It also has a longer name: Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) or Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART). Combination therapy is the most effective treatment for HIV.
How Doctors Diagnose AIDS :-
The process of the HIV testing involves two steps. There is a screening test and a confirmatory test. The first thing doctors do in the screening test is to look for antibodies that fight against the HIV virus. Doctors extract the antibodies from the following ways: 
Finger stick 
Urine sample 
Oral swab 
Additional diagnostic tests
ELISA test: ELISA or Enzyme Linked Immune Sorbent Assay test is the most common test that is used to diagnose infection via HIV. Once this test comes out positive, the next step is to do a Western Blot test. However, in cases where the test proves to be negative, a repeat test is normally advised to the patient after a span of three months.
Western Blot test: As discussed, this test is a sensitive one that is used to confirm the condition after an ELISA test has given a positive result.
Viral Load test: This is a test used to detect the quantity of HIV in a person’s blood. The result is confirmed after finding out changes in the DNA sequences. It can easily detect even early HIV infection.
All the above tests may not work for all the patients. The doctor must test and see which test produces optimal results. Depending on the result of the test, a repeat test is suggested at times. During other times, additional confirmatory tests are administered just to be doubly sure of the condition. 
Common Methods To Protect Self From AIDS :-
These measures can be taken to protect yourself from HIV infection.
Get tested and know your partner’s HIV status. Talk to your partner about HIV testing and get tested before you have sex. Use this testing locator from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find an HIV testing location near you.
Have less risky sex. HIV is mainly spread by having anal or vaginal sex without a condom or without taking medicines to prevent or treat HIV.
Use condoms. Use a condom correctly every time you have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
Limit your number of sexual partners. The more partners you have, the more likely you are to have a partner with HIV whose HIV is not well controlled or to have a partner with a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Both of these factors can increase the risk of HIV transmission. If you have more than one sexual partner, get tested for HIV regularly.
Get tested and treated for STDs. Insist that your partners get tested and treated too. Having an STD can increase your risk of becoming infected with HIV or spreading it to others.
Talk to your health care provider about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is an HIV prevention option for people who don’t have HIV but who are at high risk of becoming infected with HIV. PrEP involves taking a specific HIV medicine every day.
Don’t inject drugs. But if you do, use only sterile drug injection equipment and water and never share your equipment with others.
Research:- 
HIV/AIDS  research includes all medical research which attempts to prevent, treat, or cure HIV/AIDS along with fundamental research about the nature of HIV as an infectious agent and AIDS as the disease caused by HIV.
Many government and research institutions participate in HIV/AIDS research. This research includes behavioural health interventions such as sex education, and drug development, such as research into microbicides for sexually transmitted diseases, HIV vaccines, and antiretroviral drugs. Other medical research areas include the topics of pre- exposure prophylaxis, post exposure prophylaxis, and circumcision and HIV.
Research to prevent HIV Infection and Transmission,
With the ultimate goal of ending the HIV/AIDS pandemic as we know it,NIH continually develops and supports the research infrastructure and scientific expertise needed to enable innovative approaches aimed at halting the spread of HIV through effective and acceptable pretension strategies and a safe and effective vaccine.
The Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) also provides national leadership for HIV prevention research, including the development of biomedical and behavioural interventions to prevent HIV transmission and reduce disease progression in the United States and internationally. CDC’s research efforts include identifying scientifically proven, cost-effective, and scalable interventions and prevention strategies to be implemented as part of a high- impact prevention approach for maximal impact on the HIV epidemic.
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