AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome) is caused by the virus known as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV weakens the immune system when a person contracts the disease. The person is more likely to contract malignancies or cancer-causing tumors and life-threatening illnesses as their immune system deteriorates. AIDS is the last and critical stage of HIV infection. Certain white blood cell levels are extremely low in AIDS patients, and their immune systems are severely compromised. HIV infections can progress to AIDS in 10 years if the patient doesn’t undergo treatment.
HIV and AIDS Difference:
HIV and AIDS are often used interchangeably which is technically incorrect. HIV is a virus that deteriorates your immune system and leads to various health complications. AIDS is one of these health complications that is a result of HIV.
Before developing into AIDS, an HIV infection can last for years with little to no symptoms. This is the reason it is important to get tested even if you are showing prolonged symptoms of AIDS. Some of the symptoms include:
- Sore throat.
- Muscle aches.
- Night sweats.
- Swollen lymph nodes.
- Mouth sores.
If you experience the above AIDS symptoms, contact a multi-super specialty hospital without delay and get yourself tested.
HIV can be caused by seminal or vaginal secretions entering your body. This can happen in several ways such as:
By having sexual intercourse-
Infection may spread through vaginal, anal, or oral sex with an infected partner whose blood, semen or vaginal fluids enter your body.
During pregnancy or through breastfeeding-
Mothers who test HIV positive can pass on the infection to their babies. This can happen during pregnancy or delivery or even through breastfeeding.
By sharing needles-
Sharing contaminated needles during drug infusions or while getting a tattoo will put you at high risk of contracting HIV infection.
From blood transfusions–
HIV virus may spread through blood transfusions in hospitals and blood banks when an HIV-positive person donates blood.
All these can cause HIV infection which can escalate to AIDS if not treated on time.
A combination of oral medications (pills) are taken daily to treat HIV infection. Antiretroviral therapy is the name given to this regimen of medications (ART). The purpose of ART is to reduce the immune system’s deterioration caused by HIV infection by lowering the viral load in the blood to a level undetectable by an HIV test.
There is no vaccine to prevent HIV infection and no particular cure for AIDS. But, by taking the following precautionary measures, you can protect yourself and others from the infection.
- Use a new condom every time you have sex
- Consider preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
- Use treatment as prevention (TasP)
- Use post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if you’ve been exposed to HIV
- Tell your sexual partners if you have HIV
- Use a clean needle
- If you’re pregnant, get medical care right away
The World Health Organization (WHO) observes World AIDS Day on December 1st every year to create awareness of AIDS and propagate various safety measures that can be taken to keep yourself and others safe from a life-threatening infection.