- Education and Science
HIV & AIDS Article
AIDS is caused by the Human Immununodeficiency Virus/HIV attacking the human immune system.
The HI Virus is spread mainly by the transfer of body fruids(e.g. semen,blood) from one infected person to another in 3 way:
* during sexual activity with an infectd person.
* by the transfusion of blood from an infected person.
* or the transfer of blood from one infected person to another accidentally or while sharing syringes amongst infected drug users.
This virus may also be passed on from infected mother to her child during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome/AIDS was first reported int United State of America in 1981. Since then, about 50 million people have been infected and about 15 million of these have died of this disease. The number of new infections of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS is increasing all the time.
In South African population 10.5% or 5,24 million people are HIV positive , this means taht over 1 out of every 10 is HIV positive.
This number of HIV positive people has increased from 9,4% of population in 2001 to 10,5% in 2010.
Women between the age of 15-49 years have the highst percentage of HIV infections of 19.7%.
When looking on the HIV/AIDS effects on the individual we find that some people who become infected with the HIV show no symptoms at all.Generally, however, most HIV positive people show the following pattern of symptoms, although the time taken for one person to reah the various stage may differ from one person to another.
The Window Period
Within the first few weeks of inftion, a person may develop fe ver, rash, joint pains and enlarged lymph nodes. Thes are often not recorgnised as symptoms of HIV infection because these symptoms also can be caused by any other common diseases and they nmay disappear one or two weeks later.
Early detection of HIV infection is made more difficult since some infected people do not show the above symptoms. Even a HIV test at this early stage will not show that the person is HIV positive because the test looks for HIV antibodies which only develop after 6 weeks of infection, or even later. This period between the infection and the developmnt of HIV antibodies is reffered to as the window period.
Repeated Flu-like Symptoms
After 6 weeks HIV antibodies will be present in the blood and will show up if an HIV test is taken. In other words, the person will now know that he/she is HIV positve. The infected person experiances regular bouts of fever, enlarged lymph nodes and repeated infections of mouth, nasal passages and back of the throat. These symptoms might sometimes take years to develop and they are also symptoms associated with otherv diseases. For these two reasons, the infected person might not realise that he/she is HIV infected unless the person take an HIV test.
Opportunistic Diseases And Death
If the HIV infected person, does not take anti-retroviral/ARVs drugs, combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, opportunistic disease (i.e. diseases that take the opportunity to attack when the immune system is low ) such as chronic diarrhoea and tuberculosis develop. Person who are not infected by the HI Virus may also show these symptoms. However , HIV nbegative persons can be fairly easily treated for these diseases.
Untreated HIV positive patients go on to get infections of the oesopahagus, trachea, bronchi, lungs and brain. At this stage, the person is sescribed as having full-blown AIDS. Death may occur soon after this stage is reached.