Monday, May 14, 2012

Facts About AIDS

According to the report, the cases of AIDS in the Philippines became alarming due to high increase of infected persons.
So, what is AIDS? AIDS is an acronym of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is characterized by a defect in natural immunity against disease. People who have AIDS are vulnerable to serious illnesses which would not be a threat to anyone whose immune system was functioning normally. These illnesses are referred to as “opportunistic” infections or diseases.
AIDS is caused by a virus, which has been given different names by different groups of investigators: human T-lymphotropic virus, type III (HTLV-III); lymphadenopathy-associated virus, (LAV); or AIDS-related retrovirus (ARV). Infection with this virus does not always lead to AIDS. Many infected persons remain in good health. Others may develop illness varying in severity from mild to extremely serious; these illnesses are designated AIDS-related complex (ARC).
BUT how do AIDS transmitted? According to study AIDS is spread by sexual contact, needle sharing, or less commonly, through transfused blood or its components. The risk of infection with the virus is increased by having multiple sexual partners, either homosexual or heterosexual, and sharing of needles among those using illicit drugs. The occurrence of the syndrome in hemophilia patients and persons receiving transfusions provides evidence of transmission of the virus through blood. The virus may be transmitted also from infected mother to infant before, during, or shortly after birth (probably through breast milk.)
Now, how do we know if we have infected by AIDS virus? Do you know that most individual infected with the AIDS VIRUS have no symptoms and feel well? But some develop symptoms which may include tiredness, fever, loss of appetite and weight, diarrhea, night sweats, and swollen glands (lymph nodes)- usually in the neck, armpits, or groin. Anyone with these symptoms which continue for more than two weeks should see a doctor.
If you found you have infected with the HTLV-III virus and the onset of symptoms it ranges from about 6 months to 5 years or more before person develop AIDS. But not everyone exposed to the virus develops AIDS.
How do AIDS diagnosed? The diagnosis of AIDS depends on the presence of opportunistic diseases that indicate the loss of immunity. Certain tests which demonstrate damage to various parts of the immune system such as specific types of white blood cells, support the diagnosis. The presence of opportunistic diseases plus a positive test for antibodies to HTLV-III can also make possible a diagnosis of AIDS.
Don’t be afraid if one of the members of the family has AIDS, because casual contact with AIDS patients or infected persons does not place others at risk for getting the illness. No cases have been found where the virus has been transmitted by casual household contact with AIDS patients or infected persons. Infants with AIDS or HTLV-III infection have not transmitted the infection to family members living in the same household.
Currently, there are no antiviral drugs available anywhere that have been proven to cure AIDS, although the search for such drugs is being pursued vigorously. Some drugs have been found that inhibit the AIDS virus, but these have not yet led to clinical improvement.
Eventually, a combination of therapies to combat the virus and restore the immune system may be the most effective treatment.
BUT THE MOST important reminder that I would like share to you is “PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE.”
This article is based on the magazines “AIDS special Issue”.

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