HIV/AIDS is among the leading cause of death in the world today apart from cancer. Since the beginning of this epidemic, millions of people have died and many more people to date are living with this killer disease. The downside is that, majority of people don’t get tested for the disease which results in people living with the disease without even their knowledge hence unknowingly infecting other people. So, what is HIV/AIDS?
HIV is the acronym for the human immunodeficiency virus. It is a virus that infects the human body and weakens a persons immune system making one susceptible to infections and diseases. The advanced stages of HIV where a persons immune system has been fully compromised is what we call Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome [AIDS]. So, basically HIV is a virus that causes AIDS.
HIV is a sexually transmitted infection. That means, you can get HIV through sexual intercourse with infected persons. Other ways in which one can get HIV is through contact with infected blood which occurs mostly through needles and from mother to child either through childbirth or breastfeeding. HIV cannot however be spread though sweat, saliva or casual contact with infected people such as greeting or hugging.
When people contact HIV, symptoms vary. Some people don’t show any symptoms at all while some have minor symptoms which we call primary or acute HIV infection. Early symptoms may include fever, headache, fatigue, rash and sores on the mouth. The symptoms basically resemble flu like illnesses which go away in a matter days or weeks after exposure to the virus. After that, one can stay healthy without showing any kind of illness whatsoever although they have the virus. This is the stage where such persons likelihood of spreading the disease without their knowledge is very high since they are unaware they have the virus.
When the body has totally lost its ability to fight infections because of suppressed immune system, the body is infected with many diseases. This is when one is termed to be infected with AIDS which is the final stage of HIV. Symptoms are rather severe because the body is unable to fight infections. Symptoms may include yeast infections, weight loss, fever, night sweats, easy bruising on the skin. Other major infections at this stage could include cancer, pneumonia and widespread diseases such as chronic coughs and anemia.
HIV/AIDS has no cure, although HIV/AIDS is a killer disease, one can live long if you get tested early and start medication to control the effects of HIV in the body. There are many Retrovirus drugs today which reduce the rate at which the HIV virus multiplies in the body. Other most common ways of preventing yourself from contracting this disease is to use protective measures such as condoms anytime you have sex.