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Aids

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Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is a chronic and life threatening disease. HIV is a virus that destroys the patient’s immune system and leads to the development of AIDS. AIDS, in its simplest explanation is the body’s inability to fight off infection, viruses, bacteria, or other illnesses.

The disease has only been in human existence for about 25 years and worldwide the epidemic has possessed 38.6 living people. The majority of AIDS victims are women and girls between the ages of 15 and 24, almost 50%. Over 25 million people have lost their lives to AIDS related complications since the inception of the disease. With no hope of a vaccine in the near future, the best treatment of HIV and AIDS lies in prevention education.

AIDS SYMPTOMS

Initially, and AIDS patient has no symptoms. In fact the disease has continued to spread so rapidly because it took a very long time to break public perception that AIDS made a patient very ill almost right away. Symptoms may not begin until 5 to 10 years after infection. When a patient begins to develop symptoms they may include the swelling of lymph nodes, weight loss, diarrhea, fever, cough, and shortness of breath. By the time AIDS develops in the body, the immune system has been adequately destroyed and the body is likely to develop an opportunistic infection.

Aids
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Symptoms of an opportunistic infection in an HIV positive or AIDS patient may present as soaking night sweats, shaking chills, fever of 100 degree Fahrenheit for several weeks at a time, chronic diarrhea, headaches, weight loss, distorted vision, white spots or lesion on the tongue or in the mouth, dry cough, and shortness of breath.

The AIDS infection itself can also lead to symptoms in the later stages of the disease. This may include symptoms such as persistent headaches, soaking night sweats, low grade fever that may last for several weeks, swelling of the lymph nodes that lasts for more than three months, and chronic diarrhea.

Children are likely to experience developmental delays, growth delays, and are likely to respond to infections such as ear infections or other “normal childhood ailments” with a great degree of illness.

White blood cells in a healthy body attack and destroy foreign bodies in the system. In an HIV positive body, the white cells responsible for attacking infection known as CD4 lymphocytes, the HIV virus takes over the cell, mutates it, and turns it into an HIV cell, which then goes out into the bloodstream and repeats the process with other healthy white cells. This creates billions of HIV positive white blood cells in the body daily. Eventually, enough cells are infected with HIV and have killed off enough healthy cells that the body simply can not fight off infections.

HIV is passed through unprotected sexual contact, including anal and oral sex, through the sharing of needles with intravenous drug use, from mother to child either while in the uterus or if the mother chooses to breast feed, accidental needle sticks in health care workers, through blood transmission either through transfusions or as an occupational risk for those working with human blood, and rarely, through unsterilized dental or surgical equipment.

AIDS RISK FACTOR

Risk factor for AIDS is having the HIV virus. Risk factors for contracting the HIV virus include risky behaviors such as having unprotected sexual intercourse, regardless of whether that intercourse is heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, sharing needles during intravenous drug use, having unprotected sex with multiple partners, as well as other factors such as working in the health care industry, working with human blood, received a blood transfusion between the years of 1975 and April of 1985, being born to an HIV positive mother, received hemophiliac blood products before April of 1985, or having a previously diagnosed sexually transmitted disease.

AIDS DIAGNOSIS

Testing for HIV and AIDS can be done by almost any physician or hospital through the blood or mucous, and in some cases through the use of an HIV home test kit. HIV home test kits allow the patient to send in a sample of their own blood and call in for the test results. HIV testing immediately after exposure is not considered accurate. It can take anywhere from 12 weeks to 6 months before HIV tests come back positive after exposure. People who have been exposed should get tested at the 12 week, 36 week, and 52 week intervals after exposure.

AIDS COMPLICATIONS

Complications related to HIV and AIDS are significant. Patients can easily develop all types of infections and lack the resources to fight them off. The most common secondary illnesses include bacterial pneumonia, tuberculosis, salmonellosis, viral hepatitis, herpes virus, human papillomavirus, meningitis, Kaposi’s sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, wasting syndrome, and neurological complications.

AIDS TREATMENT

Treatment now focuses on stopping the reproduction of the HIV virus in the body as well as treating the patient on a “Whole person” level. Nutritional therapies, physical therapies, counseling, and behavior modification can all be part of an HIV positive patient’s regimen.

Medications, though expensive, have vastly improved a patient’s chances for maintaining HIV status much longer and living a healthier existence while in the status of AIDS. Advancement in medications have made it possible for patients diagnosed with HIV and AIDS to live longer and healthier lives.

Education is a huge part of dealing with HIV and AIDS, and preventing the spread of this disease is just as important as treating those who have it. Education and preventing risky behaviors can save countless lives, and billions of dollars in health care costs.
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