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AIDS – Causes and Symptoms of AIDS

AIDS is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is a life-threatening condition caused by (HIV) human immunodeficiency virus. HIV interferes with the body’s immune system and makes you susceptible to infections like pneumonia and meningitis. The virus and the infection is itself called HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is the name given in the later stages. An estimated 39.5 million people are suffering from HIV worldwide.

Causes

AIDS is caused by a virus called human immunodeficiency virus. This virus attacks the lymphocytes and inserts its own genetic material into the lymphocytes.They start making copies of itself and the virus breaks out of the host cells and enters the blood stream and infects the CD4 cells. These virus attacks the CD4 cells and the body’s immune system gets disturbed leading to severe immuno deficiency.

How HIV is transmitted?

You can get infected by the following:

Sexual transmission

  • The infection is common when you have anal, vaginal or oral sex with an infected partner whose vaginal secretions or blood semen enters your body.
  • People who have sex with multiple partners.

Transmission through infected blood

  • In few cases, the viral infection occurs through blood and blood products when you receive blood transfusions.
  • The blood testing and donor screening has reduced the risk of HIV infections through a transfusion.

Transmission through needle sharing

  • Contaminated needles and syringes are another cause of spreading this infection.
  • Sharing intravenous needles which happens mainly among drug addicts.
  • Never use needles and syringes that have been used already.
  • Sterilize the needles and syringes after each use.

Transmission through accidental pricks

  • The virus is transmitted from a HIV positive people and health care workers through needle pricks.
  • It occurs by mistake but the risk of getting infected is less than 1%.

Transmission from mother to child

  • Every year nearly 600,000 infants are infected with HIV either during pregnancy, delivery or through breast feeding.
  • If a pregnant women is treated for HIV, the risk of transmission is reduced.

Other Methods of transmission

  • The virus may be transmitted through tissue or organ transplant or unsterilized dental or surgical equipment.

HIV is not transmitted by the following

  • Hugging
  • Kissing
  • Shaking hands with a person infected with HIV.

Symptoms

The symptoms vary depending upon the phase of infection:

Early infection Symptoms

  • Headache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Rash

Later Infection

You may not notice the symptoms for atleast eight to nine years but when the virus multiplies and destroys the immune cells, you may develop chronic symptoms. They include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Latest phase of Infection

  • Headaches
  • Soaking chills
  • Fever more than 100degree Fahrenheit
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Soaking night sweats
  • Dry cough and shortness of breath
  • Blurred vision
  • Persistent white spots or lesions on the tongue
  • Weight loss
  • Persistent headaches

When to see your doctor?

If you feel that you are infected with HIV or are at risk of contracting the virus, seek medical help and do your HIV test immediately. The doctor may advise you depending on the signs and symptoms seen.

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