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Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS is a syndrome that is caused by a virus called Human immunodeficiency virus or also known as the HIV virus. This disease changes the immune system completely. People become more vulnerable to infections and diseases. As the syndrome progresses, this susceptibility worsens.
Difference between HIV and AIDS:
One of the main things that people can’t differentiate between is HIV and AIDS. For this, you need to have an overview of the topic. HIV is a virus that attacks the CD-4 immune cells. Even in the advanced stage of HIV infection, it is not necessary that AIDS appears.
Causes of AIDS:
HIV is basically a retrovirus that infects the important organs and cells of the human immune system. In the absence of antiretroviral therapy also called as ART which is a kind of drug therapy that slows down or prevents the virus from developing the virus keeps progressing towards more advanced stages.
AIDS is caused by HIV. If a person has not contracted HIV he cannot have AIDS. If a persons CD-4 count goes below 200, they are said to have AIDS. Also if the persons HIV also develops an opportunistic infection that is associated with HIV, they might still be diagnosed with Aids even though their CD-4 count is above 200.
Depending on a number of factors the rate of virus progression varies from person to person. These factors can be the age of a person, the presence of any other infection, the genetic inheritance of an individual, access to medication and resistance to certain strains of the virus.
Risk Factors of AIDS:
Any person regardless of age, sex, race or sexual orientation can get infected. However one has a higher risk of AIDS if you:
1. Use intravenous drugs: Often people that use intravenous drug share the needles and syringes. This can expose them to the infected blood of other people.
2. Have unprotected sex: Always make sure you use a new condom when you have sex. Anal sex is considered riskier than vaginal sex. The risk of contracting HIV increases if you have multiple sexual partners.
3. Have an STI: Many STI’s produce open sores on genitals. These can act as doorways for HIV to enter the body.
4. Are an uncircumcised man: Many studies have suggested that the risk of heterosexual transmission of HIV increases with lack of circumcision.
10 Signs and Symptoms of AIDS-
Before we move forward towards signs and symptoms of aids, it’s important to know that when HIV is left untreated it usually takes around ten years to develop AIDS. And when AIDS occurs, a person’s immune system has been severely damaged. The signs and symptoms of AIDS can be :
Fever can be mild up to about 102 degrees F. It can be accompanied by other symptoms of aids like a sore throat, fatigue, and swollen lymph glands. This is the point of time when the virus is replicating at a rapid rate.
2. Muscle and Joint Pain:
People can suffer from pain in muscles or joints. Swollen lymph glands might be a common symptom. As lymph nodes are a part of the human body’s immune system, they tend to get inflamed when our body contracts any kind of infection. They are usually located in the neck, groin area and under armpits.
3. Skin Rash:
Skin rashes can be noticed at early and later course of having AIDS. Doctors recommend if the rashes cannot be easily explained or treated, one must get tested for the disease. They might appear on hands or on the trunk of the body.
4. Weight Loss:
A significant illness advancement can be indicated by weight loss. This might also result due to severe diarrhea. You might even notice severe weight loss even after you have been eating a lot.
The inflammatory response by our body’s immune system make you feel really tired. This symptom can also be noticed in early as well as later stages of AIDS. You might be getting out of breath in the little tasks that you perform.
6. A headache and Sore throat:
This symptom is in the earlier stages of getting infected with HIV. So if you have got indulged in a high-risk behavior and getting this symptom, make sure to get yourself checked.
7. Vomiting, Nausea, diarrhea:
Around thirty to sixty percent of people show these symptoms. These symptoms might also occur as a result of anti-retroviral therapy and later in the infection. When the usual therapy is not working it can be a sign of AIDS.
8. A dry Cough:
A lot of people might neglect this sign as bad allergy. But when it keeps getting worse or does not respond to the treatments, chances to have been contracted HIV are high.
9. Night Sweats:
During the early stages about fifty percent of people get night sweats. This becomes more common as the time progresses and are not related to exercise or the temperature of the room. It can be so severe that the bedclothes and sheets get soaked.
10. Difficulty in focusing:
This can be a sign of HIV related dementia. A person might also face memory issues and behavioral problems such as being angry and irritable the whole time.
Diagnosis of AIDS:
As science has progressed a number of different tests have been developed that are used to diagnose AIDS. Medical practitioners are able to judge the best test for each person. Some of them have been discussed below:
• Nucleic Acid Test: This is an expensive test and is not usually done for general screening. This is for people that have early signs of HIV or having a known risk factor. This test looks for the virus itself and not antibodies. For the detection in the blood, the HIV takes 5 to 21 days. The test is mostly accompanied by an antibody test to confirm the result.
• Antigen/antibody tests: These are the most common and general test that is used. When someone initially contracts HIV, this test can typically show positive results within 18- 45 days. An antigen is the part of the virus that activates the immune system and Antibody is a kind of protein that body manufactures to fight against an infection. This test checks the blood for antigens and antibodies.
• Antibody Test: The test checks just the antibodies alone. From around 25 to 90 days after the transmission, most people will be developing HIV antibodies that can be detected. It can be found in our blood and saliva. No preparation is required to carry out these tests and is done using blood or mouth swabs.
There are also home test available today like OraQuick HIV test and Home access HIV-1 Test system, but if the results show a negative in these home test, make sure you repeat the test in three months.
Treatment of AIDS:
Presently there is no cure for AIDS. But timely treatments can help to stop the progression of the condition and almost all people infected with the disease can have an opportunity to live a longer life and a relatively healthier one too. An earlier HIV treatment is important as it can improve the quality of life and extends the life expectancy to a greater level and also reduces the risk of transmission.
Although currently no vaccine or cure is available the treatment had evolved so much that the general quality of life can be maintained in hut having a pill per day. The right treatment can help an HIV patient’s viral load to an extent that it is not detectable in tests.
That being said, there have been some developments using stem cell. Recently, in London a patient became only the second one to get treated of HIV Aids.
Medication for AIDS
Here are some medications that are given to the HIV/AIDS patients:
1. Emergency HIV pills: This is given within three days of contracting HIV, an anti-HIV medication called PEP may stop the infection. The treatment shall be taken by the person as soon as possible; it’s a treatment that lasts four weeks.
2. Antiretroviral drugs: This treatment slows down the spread of the virus in the body. HAART or cART are the two kinds of medication that can be prescribed to the patient.
3. Protease inhibitors: These drugs inhibit the protease enzyme so that their action can be inhibited preventing HIV to replicate itself.
Home Remedies for AIDS:
Here are a few home remedies that have been shown to be effective just like medications in various researches.
1. Neem leaf: It is a herbal medicine that is native to the Indian subcontinent. In a research one gram of neem extract when given to the HIV patient showed an increase in the CD-4 cells in patients.
2. Green Tea: It is now being studied as a probable treatment for HIV and AIDS. Green tea has EGCG compound in it that has shown to prevent HIV from binding to the HIV cells.
3. Turmeric: Turmeric that is also used as a spice in Asian countries contains an active ingredient curcumin. According to some studies, it is an effective home remedy for HIV. It inhibits the replication of the viral genes.