HIV & Aids

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) are prevalent in all countries of the world. They do not exempt anyone, regardless of race, age, or gender. The STDs afflicting the population today are caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses, and range from mild to terminal diseases. Two of the deadliest STDs are: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). In recent data, it is estimated that there are about 40 million people around the world who have HIV/AIDS.

One of the theories that attempted to explain the origin of these diseases was traced back to the 1950’s. It is believed that the HIV originated in the sub African continent in the beginning of the twentieth century. Though it has not been completely verified, the virus may have been acquired from primates in West Africa, such as in the nations of Congo and Cameroon. The infiltration of the virus reached countries in the west possibly because of sailors and trekkers who visited the continent.

Around the 1970’s, AIDS and HIV was said to have begun its outbreak in major United States cities like Los Angeles and New York. The first few patients who have shown severe forms of pneumonia were also diagnosed with Kaposi sarcoma (KS). These two conditions were among the symptoms that led doctors to believe that this was some other immune system disease, and it was in the early 1980’s that microbiologists were able to identify and isolate the virus. Ever since the first reported incident of AIDS, it had taken the lives of about 25 million people. In present day world AIDS is considered to be one of the most caustic diseases in the world. The number of AIDS patients is estimated to be an emerging figure of 4 million.

AIDS or Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus or as it is more popularly know, the HIV. AIDS is the condition when the immune system of a human being fails and this leads to many other life threatening infections. AIDS is transmitted mainly through the mediums like semen and vaginal fluid, blood transfers and breast milk. The affective virus which is the HIV, is found both as free virus particles and also within the affected immune cells. The methods of transfer of this deadly disease include unsafe sexual acts, transmission from a mother to her baby at birth and through contaminated needles used for injection.

Till date there is no permanent cure for AIDS and the treatment methods for this disease only helps to decelerate the progressive growth of the virus and. AIDS infect and begin to affect the body after 9 months of the first infection. But modern medications like antiretroviral treatments increase the progression time to about ten years. This is a general assumption on the progression; however the infection time varies from individual to individual.

One of the main problems with the HIV infected patients are that they are unaware that they are infected with the disease. AIDS can also spread through non passive methods like the blood transfusion and through contaminate syringes. This makes it necessary to conduct a blood test before transfusion like the developed countries and to take treatments from hygienic and established clinics. The screening of blood for transfusions can be done through the western blot method and the enzyme immunoassay tests.

However there is a time gap between the initial infection and the time required for the development of antibodies which can help in detecting HIV, this is known as the window period and can vary from person to person. If any blood is transferred through this person in this period it can transmit the virus. The normal window period can vary even up to 3 to 6 months making it a risky affair in terms of the spreading of the disease. Even though enough initiative is there among many organizations to help increase the awareness of AIDS, it is all on the individual to protect himself from getting infected.

At present, there has been no definite cure for HIV or AIDS. A large number of those who are afflicted with the diseases come from developing countries, where unprotected sex and overpopulation are major problems. In the US, an estimated 45,000 new cases of HIV/AIDS are diagnosed yearly. The majority of new HIV/AIDS victims are actually teenagers and young persons from the ages of 13 to 24 years.

The acquisition of AIDS or HIV can be prevented, even if there is still no treatment for the disease. Medical practitioners often advise their patients to practice protected sex, such as with the use of contraceptives and by abstaining from anal sex or oral sex. Using illegal and dangerous drugs should be avoided, as intravenous or hypodermic needles may be vectors that help transfer the virus from one person to another.

There is also an alarming number of unborn and newborn babies that are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS every year. Pregnant mothers who have acquired the disease beforehand can transfer the virus to their children, which is why midwives, obstetricians, and gynecologists recommend HIV and AIDS testing for their patients. A lot of people living with AIDS or HIV have managed to live normal lives, although there are still many others who are suffering severely. Current efforts to spread the knowledge on these conditions are being done by the World Health Organization.

In the developing countries the mortality rate of AIDS is made under control by the induction of antiretroviral medications. HIV communicates a disease to the vital cells like the helper T cells of the immune system. It is a gradual process and over a period of time the patient acquires the AIDS and gets infected by other diseases due to the poor immune system of the body.

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