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Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or acquired immune deficiency syndrome abbreviated as AIDS is a medical condition. It is mainly caused by a virus known as HIV (human immunodeficiency Virus) that affects the immune system of the victim and makes them vulnerable to various kinds of diseases and infections. The resistance worsens as and how the virus spreads in the body. In the layman terms this disease is referred to as HIV AIDS
Where is HIV Found and How Does It Affect an Individual?
Individuals who are affected by HIV develop an infection known as the HIV infection that latter on leads to AIDS. This life threatening virus resides in the body fluids (such as breast milk, vaginal fluids,semenâ€™s, blood etc) of the person infected. As and how the infection progresses the condition of the individual worsens which ultimately leads to death.
HIV spreads in many ways like oral sex, vaginal, anal sex, contaminated needles, blood transfusion and so on. In case of pregnant women infected by HIV, there are high probabilities of passing on the virus to their newborns during the time of delivery and breast feeding.
HIV virus is transmitted only through direct contact (i.e. through sexual, prenatal or blood transmission); it is in no way transmitted by:
- Casual kissing
- Using the patients cutlery, towel etc
- Shaking hands
- Touching the unaffected skin
- Sharing the washrooms
Symptoms of HIV:
Most of them infected by HIV show no symptoms or signs for several years. Its only when the virus has taken total toll of their body do they realize that they have been affected by it. Others often experience symptoms like:
- Joint pain
- Sore throat
- Severe muscle pain
- Sweating profusely
- Red rashes
- Enlarged glands
- Sudden and huge weight loss
In some cases the affected person gets completely well after the initial stage symptoms are cured. They feel healthy and good like any other normal person. However the virus still actively plays its role of damaging the immune system. This can go on up to 10 years without the knowledge of the affected individual.
During this course of time if the virus is left untreated then it weakens the individualâ€™s ability to fight any kind of infection or diseases and leads them to the final stage known as AIDS, where they are left vulnerable to very serious infections/diseases.
Symptoms of the AIDS Include:
- High temperature lasting for several weeks
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen glands for weeks
- Night sweats
- Blurred vision
- Dry cough
- White spots around the mouth or on the tongue
- Severe Weight Loss
- Pale skin
In order to detect if an individual has been infected by HIV, a simple blood test is carried on that specifically screens the virus. If the result is positive then the individual has to undergo several tests to check if the virus has been exposed or not. Depending on the findings the treatments are suggested. The sooner the virus is detected the better are the options for treatments.
There is no permanent treatment for HIV however there are alternative methods to help the patients from living a healthier and a better quality life.
According to the World Health organization, antiretroviral treatment has proved to quite effective on HIV positive individuals. It helps in improving the overall health of the individual, gives them a better quality of life, risk of transmission is reduced and at the same time increases their life expectancy.
Emergency HIV Medication: In cases where the individual feels that he/she has been exposed to HIV in the last 72 hours then they can be treated with PEP (Post exposure prophylaxis) an anti HIV medication that may help in stopping the infection. The treatment lasts for four weeks and has itsown side effects â€“ Fatigue, weakness, diarrhea, nausea and malaise.
An HIV infected person is treated with several combinations of drugs to fight the infection and reduce the progress of it in the body. The patients must follow the instructions of the doctors to lead a healthier life. Regular medication should be followed. The dosage of the medication should be kept as per the prescription. In case of severe side effects consult the doctor immediately.
- Do not have unprotected sex. Having physical contact without using condoms may put an individual at a risk of getting infected by STDâ€™s (sexually transmitted diseases) or worse, HIV.
- Do not share sex toys.
- Intravenous drug usage is another prominent cause for HIV transmission. Sharing hypodermic needles can lead to spread of various kinds of virus including HIV
- Avoid exposure to contaminated blood. Health caregivers must use barriers such as masks, gloves, shields, gowns, protective eyewearâ€™s etc all the time.
- During pregnancy an anti-HIV treatment can harm the to-be-born child and so the doctors should come up with an effective treatment strategy to protect the child from getting infected of the virus. Instead of a normal delivery the mother should opt for a caesarian and breast feeding should be replaced by bottle feeding.
Above all, sex education should be made compulsory in every institution. As the saying goes, â€œprevention is better than cureâ€, certainly works in this case.
Sehat provides list of best HIV Specialists in India from which you can research and choose the right doctor for your condition.