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AIDS - HIV

What is AIDs:

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome is a viral disease, highly contagious. It is transmitted through sexual intercourse, whether vaginal or anal. It is also transmitted through blood transfusion and needle pricks. It can be transmitted from mother to child during pregnancy, birth or in breast milk. It is not transmissible by hand shakes, casual contact, kisses and hugs (with some controversy about deep "tongue" kisses), insect bites, foments and towels or  swimming in the same pool.

"HIV virus" attacks the white blood cells; cells that are responsible for body immunity against infections and cancer. The virus uses the cell to reproduce then destroys the cell, releasing itself as well as a large number of its replicas, produced in the destroyed cell. The released viruses attack other cells, reproducing and destroying, and do forth.

Gradually, the white blood cells become depleted, and the body is left vulnerable for infections and malignancies.

In the process of reproduction, the virus can alter its form to escape its foes, including anti-HIV medications, which is the reason why there is no radical cure for HIV till today.

Stages of HIV:

1-First Stage: immediately following infection, there are mild symptoms that resemble common cold and may pass unnoticed. In this stage, antibodies are produced and may be measured in blood to establish diagnosis.

2-Second Stage:

The patient has no symptoms but is infective to others. This stage may persist for years.

3-Third stage: Severe diarrhea, severe weight loss, generalized lymph node enlargement (lumps), skin rash, various infections. Infections contracted at this stage may be a cause of death.

4-Fourth stage: increased severity of the latter, in addition to contraction of infections by opportunistic organisms and cancers. Opportunistic organisms are normally present in the body and are harmless. In AIDs, the become harmful and cause infections.

Diagnosis:

Blood tests such as ELISA and PCR can diagnose HIV. PCR is much more accurate than ELISA. They are available for free in many specialized centers.

Treatment:

Unfortunately, the virus keeps modifying its structure to escape the effect of medication. However, current antiviral treatment can stop progression of the disease and decrease infectivity. Complete cure is rare, but the patient may live symptom-free and non-infective in many cases for variable periods of time.

Avoiding AIDs / Prophylaxis:

On a personal scale:

1-Use condoms

2-Avoid multiple sex partners

3-Avoid drug abuse

 

On a public scale:

1-Public education

2-Provosion of free diagnostic tools and free (or affordable) treatment

3-Strict examination of blood before transfusion.

 
     

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