AIDS meaning

AIDS is a chronic disease caused by a virus called human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that infects and destroys CD4 cells, a type of white blood cell responsible for the immune system.

In people with HIV, the disease progresses to AIDS when the number of CD4 cells in the blood is less than 200.

AIDS symptoms

Symptoms of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) vary depending on the stage of infection.

Primary infection

Symptoms often appear within a month or two of the virus entering the body, and include flu-like symptoms such as :

  • high temperature ;
  • Pain in muscles and joints.
  • rash.
  • a headache.
  • Sore throat.
  • Ulceration in the mouth or genitals.
  • Swollen lymph glands, often in the neck.
  • Night sweats.
  • diarrhea.

Clinical infection

This stage may extend for a period ranging from 8-10 years, depending on the extent of the impact of the immune system and its ability to fight the virus, during which time no symptoms may appear at all.

The stage of onset of symptoms and the development of AIDS

If the disease is not detected and treatment is not received, the disease progresses to the onset of chronic symptoms and recurrent infection with opportunistic diseases. Symptoms observed during this stage are :

  • Night sweats.
  • Chills and a temperature higher than 38°C for several weeks.
  • Cough and shortness of breath.
  • Chronic diarrhea.
  • White spots on the tongue or in the mouth.
  • a headache.
  • blurred vision
  • Weight loss.
  • rash.

Causes of AIDS

HIV infection may occur in several ways, including the following :

Sexual intercourse

They are the most important causes of AIDS, and HIV infection can be acquired through vaginal, oral, or anal sexual contact with a partner who is HIV-positive when one of these things enters the body, such as: blood, semen, or vaginal secretions.

Common use of sex toys that have not been washed and cleaned or that have not been wrapped in a clean condom between use and another transmits infection as the HIV virus lives in semen or vaginal secretions that enter the body during sexual intercourse through small cuts or tears sometimes found in the vagina or in the rectum.

If someone has another STI, they are at greater risk of contracting HIV. Contrary to what researchers thought in the past, even women who use spermicides are also at risk of contracting HIV.

This is because this spermicide irritates the inner mucous membrane of the vagina, which can create cracks and tears through which the HIV virus can enter the body.

HIV infection from inflamed blood

In some cases, the AIDS virus can be transmitted through blood or blood derivatives that are given to a person by intravenous injection, which is one of the common causes of AIDS.

Since 1985, hospitals and blood banks in the United States have been examining donated blood for any antibodies to HIV that may be present in them, and these tests have greatly reduced the risks of exposure to HIV from intravenous transfusion in addition to improving the screening and filtering of donors.

injection needles

HIV is easily transmitted by inflamed needles or syringes that have come into contact with contaminated blood. Using common IV equipment increases the risk of exposure to HIV and other viral diseases, such as hepatitis.

The best way to prevent HIV infection is to abstain from using intravenous drugs. If this possibility is not available, the risk of infection can be reduced by using sterile, single-use injection equipment.

Accidental needle prick

The possibility of HIV transmission between HIV carriers and medical staff by an accidental needle prick is very small, and professionals tend to estimate the chance at less than 1%.

Transmission of HIV from a mother to her child

Statistics show that about 600,000 young children are infected with HIV annually, whether during pregnancy or as a result of breastfeeding, but the risk of infection of the fetus with HIV infection when the mother takes treatment for HIV during pregnancy is very much reduced.

In the United States of America, the majority of women undergo early tests to detect HIV antibodies, and drugs are available to treat retroviruses.

But the situation in developing countries is different, where the majority of women lack awareness of their health conditions and the possibility of contracting HIV, and where the opportunities and possibilities for HIV treatment are often very limited or not available at all.

When medicines are not available, it is preferable to give birth by caesarean section instead of a regular vaginal delivery, but other possibilities and alternatives, such as vaginal sterilization, for example, have not been proven to be effective.

Other ways of transmitting HIV infection

There are rare cases in which HIV can be transmitted when organs or tissues are transplanted, or through dental tools if they are not sterilized properly.

AIDS prevention

Individuals can reduce the likelihood of contracting the virus by reducing exposure to risk factors. The main methods of preventing HIV infection that are most often used in combination are given below.

  • use of male and female condoms;
  • Testing and counseling for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases;
  • Testing, counseling and linking to tuberculosis care services;
  • voluntary medical male circumcision;
  • use of antiretroviral drugs for prophylaxis;
  • reducing risks for injecting drug users;
  • Elimination of transmission of the virus from mother to child.

AIDS treatment

HIV infection can be managed with a course of treatment consisting of a combination of 3 or more antiretroviral drugs. Currently, antiretrovirals do not treat HIV infection, but they contribute greatly to suppressing the replication of the virus in the person’s body, allowing the recovery and strengthening of the immune system and restoring the ability to respond to opportunistic infections and some types of cancer.

Since 2016, WHO has recommended lifelong administration of antiretroviral drugs to all people living with HIV, including children, adolescents, adults, and pregnant and lactating women, regardless of clinical status and CD4 count.

As of June 2021, 187 countries had adopted this recommendation, covering 99% of all people living with HIV in the world. In addition to the “treat all” strategy, WHO also recommends the rapid administration of antiretroviral drugs to all people living with HIV, including from the day of diagnosis to those who are ready to begin treatment. By June 2021, 82 low- and middle-income countries reported having adopted the policy, and nearly half of these countries reported implementing the policy nationwide.

Globally, 28.2 million people living with HIV were on ART in 2021. Global ART coverage in 2020 was 73% [56-88%]. However, more efforts are needed to increase the scope of treatment, especially for children and adolescents. By the end of 2020, only 54% [37-69%] of children and adolescents were receiving ART.

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