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Human Immunodeficiency Virus
Transcript of Human Immunodeficiency Virus
Method of Spread and
Signs and Symptoms
Prevention and Treatment
Signs and Symptoms of HIV
In majority, the body responds to the HIV infection by developing symptoms and signs within 2-4 weeks of HIV exposure.
Initial symptoms typically last up to six to eight weeks. These symptoms are often similar to common cold or flu symptoms and are known as Acute Retroviral Syndrome (ARS) or the Primary HIV infection.
However, one should be cautioned by the fact that these symptoms are very non-specific and not everyone who exhibit these symptoms have acquired HIV. Each of these symptoms may also be caused by other more common illnesses.
Additionally, some individuals that have acquired HIV, may not show any symptoms or signs in the beginning and some may not show up to ten or more years after the initial infection, which is when the HIV transforms in to AIDS.
Signs and Symptoms of AIDS
The symptoms of AIDS appear in the most advanced stage of the HIV infection.
If an individual is not tested or treated for the HIV infection, it will cause our immune system to become progressively weak in it's ability to fight infections, making the individual vulnerable to serious and more frequent illnesses, mainly opportunistic infections and cancers.
Methods of Spread
Some high-risk methods HIV can spread through are:
Engaging in unprotected sexual intercourse (anal or vaginal).
Sharing sex toys.
By needles or equipment for injecting drugs or steroids
Mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy, delivery, and breast-feeding.
Receiving HIV-infected bodily fluids such as blood into open wounds or sores.
Among drug users, by sharing and reusing syringes contaminated with HIV-infected blood is an extremely hazardous method.
Unsterilized needles for tattooing, skin piercing or acupuncture.
Description of HIV
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI), which causes a progressive and a recurring illness.
HIV is a virus that can only infect human beings either by hematological or sexual transmission.
It attacks our immune systems, which is our body's defense system against diseases, thereby, making an individual prone to infections, mainly opportunistic infections, and various cancers. An opportunistic infections are typically caused by harmless bacterial and viral organisms that can easily be fought off by the human immune system, but in HIV infected individuals with a weak immune system, these can cause serious infections.
Once acquired, HIV can live in a human body unnoticed for a long period of time. The HIV virus lives in the T-cells or CD4 cells of our body which are an important part of our immune system and are needed to resist infections and diseases. The HIV virus uses these cells to duplicate itself and eventually destroy these cells.
Description of AIDS
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD). If HIV is not treated it progresses to AIDS, which is the last stage of HIV.
Typically, it takes approximately up to ten or more years for the HIV infection to become AIDS disease.
Anyone who reaches the final stage of HIV have such badly damaged immune system that even if they acquire a simple or mild infection, their immune system will not be able to fight the infection.
At this stage, HIV has invaded majority of our T-cells or CD4 cells resulting in a severely weakened immune system which is unable to fight infections and diseases.
If AIDS is not treated timely and appropriately, it leads to severe complications and often death.
Short and Long Term Effects of HIV
Short term effects of HIV include:
Recurrent infections such as diarrhea, vomiting, mouth sores or ulcers, fungal infections, mainly skin infections and rashes.
Excessive fatigue, etc.
Long term effects of HIV include:
Opportunistic and life threatening infections namely Candidiasis, Cytomegalovirus Cryptococcal, Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, Toxoplasmosis, Pneumocystis Carinii and Salmonella infections
Cancer, mainly skin cancers
Progressive weight loss
Cognitive slowing or dementia
A chronic and progressive and viral infection of the brain
Statistics of HIV/AIDS in Manitoba
In 2011, 80 newly positive HIV cases were reported, 61% were males and 39% were females. In comparison to the previous year, this number was decreased by 42 cases, since 122 new HIV cases were reported in 2010.
The majority (70%) of new HIV cases were living in the Winnipeg RHA at the time of testing and diagnosis. The remainder reported residence in regions outside of Winnipeg RHA.
The three main ethnic categories affected by HIV, in 2011, were:
Aboriginal (this includes First Nations, Inuit and Métis) 35%
African/African-Canadian 18%, and
Unknown ethnicity 20% (new cases that did not report ethnicity).
Of the 80 new HIV infected cases, only 2 developed AIDS and three deaths among AIDS cases was reported, in 2011.
HIV and AIDS Prevention
Many methods or techniques can be used to prevent or protect from HIV infection. Some of the common and easily adopted strategies include:
Don't share personal items that may contain blood. This includes toothbrushes, razors, needles for piercing or tattooing, and blades for cutting or scarring.
Never share injectable needles. Sharing needles can expose users to HIV and other viruses, such as Hepatitis C.
Avoidance of body fluid exposure. Exposure to HIV-infected bodily fluids can be prevented through practicing the following precautions:
Frequent and thorough washing of the skin immediately after being contaminated with blood or other bodily fluids can reduce the chance of infection.
Practice safer sex. Having sex without a condom can put a person at risk of being infected with HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
Avoidance of unnecessary blood transfusions.
Education of public and health personelle. Health education is an important factor in reducing the risk of HIV.
Treatment of HIV
To date, there is no complete cure or vaccine to prevent HIV.
Currently, for patients that have acquired HIV, doctors provide medical treatment to prevent the virus from progressing. The medicines prevent the replication of HIV in the body and and disrupt the action of the virus.
Some of the most commonly antiviral therapies for HIV and AIDS, also known as antiretoviral medicines, include the following:
The HIV virus is known to become resistant to an antiretroviral medicine, therefore, instead of monotherapy or single medicine, doctors advise multiple medicines or combination therapy with different mechanism of action to prevent the viral replication in HIV infected patients.
Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) or Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) is the most effective combination therapy, consisting of 3 or more drugs, for the prevention of HIV spread.
It is also extremely important for the HIV infected patients to take their medicines at regular and scheduled times, otherwise the HIV virus may become active and resistant to the medicines.
Tests for HIV and AIDS
If an individual becomes infected with HIV, the body will develop antibodies against the virus. These antibodies circulate in blood and are checked to diagnose or confirm that the individual is infected with HIV.
HIV ELISA and HIV Western blot tests are laboratory tests that are used to detect the antibodies against the HIV virus in an individuals blood. Both the HIV ELISA and HIV Western blot tests must result positive results for the confirmation HIV infection.
Once the HIV ELISA and HIV Western blot tests reveal positive results, other blood tests are conducted to determine the amount of HIV virus in an individuals blood stream.
In individuals, who are at high risk of acquiring the HIV infection, if the initial HIV ELISA and HIV Western blot tests are negative, meaning that no antibodies were found, it is advised that the individual should be retested in minimum 3 months.
Another blood test that can indicate HIV infection is by measuring the T-cell or CD4 cell counts in blood. A lower than normal T-cell or CD4 cell count suggests HIV infection.
Similarly, commonly done and simple blood tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC), may suggest HIV infection by showing a low white blood cell count.
Some common presenting symptoms of HIV include:
Muscle and joint discomfort and aches
Swollen glands, often in the throat, armpit, or groin
Sore throat, mouth ulcers
Whole body sweats (particularly at night)
Fatigue and tiredness
Decrease in appetite
Unexplained weight loss
Symptoms of HIV
Symptoms of AIDS
Individuals who have acquired AIDS and have a badly damaged immune system often have the following symptoms:
Fever with or without periodic daytime and night sweats
Persistent, deep, dry coughing as well as increasing shortness of breath
Blurred vision, headaches, light headedness, or dizziness
Periods of extreme and unexplained tiredness, that may be combined with hold body pains
Severe numbness or pain in the hands or feet, the loss of muscle control, loss of muscular strength or severe weight loss
Diarrhea, which is usually persistent or chronic
Swelling or hardening of glands often located in the throat, armpit, or groin
Frequent or unusual skin rashes as well as the skin bruising more easily
The appearance of discolored or purplish growths on the skin or inside the mouth as well as white spots on the tongue or mouth
Bleeding from skin growths and from any openings in the body
Confusion, personality change, or decreased mental abilities
There are many myths about HIV and AIDS and its methods of spread. The infection cannot be transmitted through:
Casual, everyday contact
Shaking hands, hugging or kissing
Touching unbroken skin
Cough or sneeze
Sharing cutlery, utensils and water fountains
Swimming pools, toilet seats, bath tubs
Mosquitoes, or other insects and animal bites.
Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, or other forms of casual contact