AIDS is a disease the mere naming of which sent a chill down the spine because of no safe and effective cure available. What is it? Is AIDS and HIV same? What are the signs and symptoms of AIDS, how do you get infected are the questions you always want to explore.
On the eve of World’s AIDS day, SIH takes the onus of educating the mass about the deadly disease, the effective treatment of which does not exist currently.
WHAT IS AIDS? HOW IT DIFFERS FROM HIV?
AIDS Explained in Layman Terms:
AIDS is an abbreviation of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. It is the critical and ultimate stage of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). At this stage of infection, your immune system gets ruined. The entire immune system gets so adversely affected that you become susceptible to a number of infections.
The HIV virus is the deadliest virus and unlike other viruses, no effective treatment of HIV is currently available. This virus affects the entire immune system which is called T cells or CD4 cells. If this virus is not treated on time, it can wreak havoc on the immune system and turns your body incapable of fighting even the small infections. So, if you are at the ultimate stage of HIV or if you suffer from AIDS, you would not be able to recover from the smallest diseases like cold and sneezing.
WHAT ARE THE EARLY SYMPTOMS OF AIDS:
At an early stage, you would not even have the slightest possible idea that HIV has entered your body because the early HIV symptoms begin to show in a couple of months. At first, it seems more like a case of cold or flu. HIV infection spreads more rapidly and efficiently during the primary stage. Here are a few early signs that indicate the disease:
- Fever accompanied by severe headache
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Rashes all across the body
- Lymph glands swollen
- Sore throat
IMPORTANT TO NOTE:
These early symptoms of HIV are termed as Acute Retroviral Syndrome or the primary HIV infection. This is the natural response of the body on getting an infection. Take these signs as an alarm bell and get yourself tested, then only because these symptoms are often mistaken as a normal viral infection. After this initial infection, the signs of HIV may or may not appear for several years together. So, if you have slightest possible doubts consult your doctor and get yourself checked.
HOW DOES AIDS PROGRESS?
If the patient does not receive any treatment for this infection. The disease begins to progress gradually. That means, if you let the disease go unnoticed during the preliminary stages, you will suffer from AIDS in about a decade or so. When AIDS grips you, you tend to fall victim to several diseases which normally do not affect a healthy immune system. Recurring fever, consistent weight loss, lesions on the tongue, diarrhea and skin rashes are some of the signs that point towards AIDS.
HOW DO YOU GET HIV?
Worry not, staying with the patients, hugging them or even kissing them do not make you catch the infection. There are several other ways that HIC enters your body. Having unprotected sex with the affected partner is the most common reason of HIV transmission.
- Anal sex is the dangerous of all the other intercourse’s. Receptive Anal Sex or bottoming is much more fraught with risk than the insertive
- Vaginal sex is almost as dangerous as anal.
- Sharing the equipments, syringes, needles, rinse water, drugs, etc. with the patient can make you catch the disease.
AIDS is less commonly spread by the following ways:
- If you are born from a mother who is infected. She can pass the HIV virus during the pregnancy to the fetus or during the process of breast feeding to her baby.
- Receiving the blood transfusions or any blood product from an infected person.
- When you are bitten by the patient or if you eat his pre-chewed food.
- Deep breath kissing can one of the reasons only when the infected person has bleeding gums or has a sore mouth because the virus does not transmit via saliva.
- Oral sex is the most dangerous of all. Making the infected person ejaculate into the mouth is very risky.
YOU CANNOT HAVE HIV BY THESE:
- Toilet seats
- Saliva, tears, sweat etc.
- By mosquitoes or bugs bite
- Air and water
BE CAREFUL OF THESE:
HIV spreads when the body fluids of an infected person come in contact with the body fluid of a healthy person. So, you need to be careful of these:
- Rectal fluids
- Pre ejaculatory fluid
- Breast milk
- Vaginal fluid.
What is a Clinical Latency Stage?
Many of the HIV + people do not show any symptom at all and they remain healthy. There are certain people who show cold or flu like symptoms but they remain affected for as many as 10 years. From the preliminary stage, the deadly disease moves into the stage called clinical latency stage. At this stage, the patient shows no symptoms at all or show only the moderate ones. This is the stage when the HIV virus reproduces at low levels only, but it remains active for several years together. So, at this stage if the infected person gets checked and starts the treatment, the disease can be curbed.
What is The Goal Of HIV Treatment?
Viral load is the quantity of virus in your blood. During clinical check up doctors use this to measure the HIV. Their purpose is to make the viral load so low that even the tests could not detect them. So, the medication taken for HIV is meant to keep it at the lowest. But, still the person on medication, is capable enough to transmit HIV.
HOW CAN YOU PREVENT AIDS?
There is no vaccine for HIV, it is therefore necessary to take all the precautions from getting infected. Safer sex practices and taking care during blood transfusion and in hospitals is a key to prevent the disease. If you think that you can get infected, you should get yourself checked at the earliest even if you are not showing symptoms of AIDS.