Tag Archives: human immunodeficiency virus

Human Immunodeficiency Virus – What is HIV?

by admin July 27, 2015

HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that destroys the immune system of the body which makes it helpless to ward off serious infections such as tuberculosis and pneumonia. It is also the virus that eventually progresses to AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. Even if an HIV infection could progress to AIDS, it is important to establish that they are not the same. There are many people diagnosed as HIV positive that lived for a long time without progressing to AIDS.

The CD4 cells are the ‘defenders’ of our bodies that help us maintain good health, which the HIV virus attacks once it has entered it. The rapid replication of the HIV virus takes over the immune system of the body and weakens it, making it vulnerable to all kinds of infections. Even if there is no cure for HIV, medical advances have developed medications that stop the virus from replicating itself to allow time for the immune system to regain health.

The best way to understand more about HIV is to know how the infection is transmitted or how it is not. This knowledge will help you know the ways to prevent from getting the infection.

These are the ways that HIV can be transmitted:

  • Infected blood through blood transfusions
  • Infected mother to child during childbirth
  • Razor or needle sharing
  • Using infected breast milk to feed a baby
  • Unsafe sex practices that do not use protective barriers

These are the ways that HIV cannot be transmitted:

  • Voodoo magic
  • Sharing with an infected person his or her eating utensils or drinking glasses
  • Bite from a dog
  • Using a toilet seat that has been used by an HIV-infected person
  • Bites from a mosquito
  • Shaking hands or hugging an HIV-infected person
  • Kissing

An HIV-infected individual still has a chance to live a long and healthy life. The HIV positive person has the power to think positive and make the right choice to lead a healthy life and here are the ways to do it:

  • Visit the doctor for regular check-ups or consultation and always stick to the medication schedule and requirement.
  • Eat more foods that help restore health back to the immune system such as fruits and vegetables.
  • Make lifestyle changes like avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.
  • Make the mind alert and sharp by sleeping 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
  • Seek out the company of your friends and make new ones as well. A close family member will also work better. This relationship can help tide you over rough times when you feel discouraged about your situation.
  • Keep busy with a favorite sport or hobby such as listening to music, reading a great book or hanging out with friends.
  • Set goals by finishing your studies if you have not done so. If you have, enroll in another course that will help you get a good job.
  • Always find time to pray. Whatever your religious beliefs may be there is only one mighty being.

Acquiring HIV should not mean the end of the world. Learn to think positive and make the most of your life. Always remember, life is a matter of choice.

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The Dark Menace of HIV

by admin July 27, 2015

Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is the name given to the infection that could eventually lead to AIDS. It is a slow replicating virus that weakens the immune system that can allow entry to the body of life-threatening infections.

Transmission

Hugging and kissing as long as it does not produce tissue cracks are not the ways to get HIV. Here are the risky activities that could certainly infect you with HIV should your partner is positive with it:

  • Born into it. HIV- infected mothers have a big chance of transmitting the disease to their newborn.
  • Unsafe and unprotected sex. Body fluids are exchanged during sex and not using any barrier such as condoms can give the HIV infectious agents to enter the bloodstream.
  • Sharing of needles. When needles used to inject drugs into the body are shared, the HIV virus is shared too.
  • Blood transfusions have become safer ever since donated blood are tested several times to rule out STD yet it could still be possible.

Stages of HIV

HIV in its early stage could be undetected since the body has not produced antibodies to combat the virus. However, flu-like symptoms may be experienced which is often called retroviral syndrome or ARS. It starts with low-grade fever accompanied by swollen lymph glands, headache, sore throat, and fatigue.

The most common early sign of HIV is fatigue that is accompanied by joint pains and sore muscles that could easily be mistaken for flu symptoms.

Swelling of the lymph nodes around the neck, armpit, and groin area is one of the sure signs of HIV since its presence inflames the immunity system of the body.

When the infection is far advanced, a depleted immune system will make an infected person lose weight even when food intake is at normal levels. It is also called as the wasting syndrome according to the Department of Health and Human Services due to the over a month continuous fever and diarrhea that easily takes off 10% of the body weight of an infected individual.

Skin rashes can either take place in the early or late stages when HIV is present in the body. It usually grows on the trunk or the arms and looks like pink boils that are itchy.

Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting have also been observed in people with HIV. It could also be accompanied by racking dry cough that could be due to the presence of infectious agents like pneumonia cytomegalovirus, a herpes virus.

In the later stages of HIV, mouth thrush brought about by yeast infections together with fungal infections in the fingernails that result in discoloration or splitting, and flash sweats are manifested.

Irregularities in the menstrual period, disorientation, cold sores also called oral herpes, tingling and numbness in the hands and extreme fatigue are the signs and symptoms of late stage HIV.

If you suspect that you or a loved one show all the discussed symptoms and signs, a visit to the doctor and screening tests must be done immediately or it may be too late.

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How is HIV transmitted?

by admin July 27, 2015

HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a lentivirus that attacks and destroys the immune system of a human body. The characteristic of the lentivirus is the incubation period which stays for a long time in the body. If left untested and untreated, the HIV virus will eventually lead to AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome which quickly devastates the immune system leaving it open to a host of infections including harmless ones.

The mode of transmission of an HIV virus from an infected person to a non-infected one is through body fluids which include vaginal fluids and semen during sexual intercourse. It could also be transmitted through breast milk from an infected mother, blood transfusions, and shared needles or razors. There are rare cases where the transmission was through body piercings and tattoos.

There are two strains of HIV, which are HIV-1 and HIV-2. The first to be discovered was HIV-1 and is considered to be the most virulent and infectious between the two strains. Most cases stem from HIV-1. HIV-2 has a lesser degree of infection and virulence and endemic to the population of West Africa. Yet, whether the strain is from HIV-1 or HIV-2, the final outcome would still be AIDS.

The rapid replication of HIV virus takes over the cells of the immune system of a human body. Since it is a virus, it could easily assume the characteristics of a normal cell which tricks our antibodies to allow it entry instead of fighting it off. The moment the virus enters the body, it replicates quickly by attaching to normal cells and destroying them in the process. This would eventually weaken the immune system, making it susceptible to all infectious agents even the most harmless ones.

The infection process of an HIV virus consists of four stages: the incubation period where the replication process begins; the acute stage where flu-like symptoms would be manifested such as fever, swelling of the lymph nodes in the armpit and groin area, fever, muscle and joint pain, headache, and general fatigue; the latency stage where an infected individual would be tricked into thinking that it was a just a one-off sickness. This is also the stage when the HIV virus cells begin to rapidly take over the immune system; the end stage which is full-blown AIDS. This is the stage where the immune system is almost gone leaving it wide open for entry to opportunistic infections and diseases such as certain kinds of cancers, cirrhosis, ESRD or end- stage kidney disease, among others.

Currently, there is no known cure for HIV/AIDS which makes it doubly important for all of us to be on guard all the time. An unprotected sexual activity involving multiple partners would be like playing Russian roulette where everything is left to chance. Protective barriers such as a condom would be the best way to protect a non-infected individual from an infected person. The best ways to prevent this deadly infection to invade our bodies would either be by abstinence or involvement with a monogamous relationship where both partners are infection-free.

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HIV Virus

by admin July 27, 2015

The modern era has made life easier and with the information age, the whole world is reached through a great internet connection and a simple flick of the fingers on the keyboard. There have also been great discoveries in the field of medicine where a man would not be allowed to look, act, and feel old with the help of wonder drugs and aesthetic surgery. The underside to all these high technology gizmos and gadgets is the widening and alarming spread of sexually transmitted diseases particularly the deadliest of all, the HIV/AIDS virus.

Around the mid-nineties, the deadly of HIV/AIDS made a huge splash all over the world that even culminated in a World AIDS Day when the widespread infection seemed to engulf the whole of South Africa. It was during that time when private organizations and federally funded health centers focused on the problem of eradicating the infection. Research groups were funded in the race to come up with a cure for the infection that can devastate a human body’s immune system and rob it of life-saving antibodies leaving it open and vulnerable to every opportunistic infection, harmful and harmless that eventually led to death.

From the nineties to the twenty-first century, no cure has been found to stop the HIV/AIDS in its tracks. Numerous multi-million researches have been done and some advances such as a retroviral treatment was discovered. The treatments though are not a means to cure but more palliative in nature which could temporarily stop the replication of the HIV virus, thus giving it a latency period that may extend for a long period depending on the state of health of the infected person. However, once the retroviral treatment is stopped, the HIV virus will wake up from its dormant state and again rapidly replicate by taking over the white blood cells which are the ‘soldiers’ of the human body leading to a weakened immune system that will be helpless to fight off infections even as harmless as a common cold.

The only way that a non-infected person could stay uninfected would be to abstain from sex. This is easier said than done especially with the proliferation of sex manuals, pornographic online sites, and adult movies that seem to encourage the delights of promiscuous sexual relations with multiple sex partners.

Medical professionals and organizations are aware of this and the only way that can contain the HIV infection became focused on safe sex practice which is using protective sex barriers like a condom for every sexual encounter. Other than protective barriers, the other thing that is being encouraged are monogamous relationships between two uninfected people and as long as both partners remain faithful to their partners, presents a far better option than the safe sex protective barriers.

Sadly, monogamous relationships seem to become a dying breed with unfaithfulness the foremost reason for break-ups. This again had to be addressed by medical practitioners since these groups pose a high risk for getting infected. The solution encouraged is still and always will be safe sex protective barriers so long as a cure for the HIV/AIDS is not available.

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What is HIV Positive?

by admin July 24, 2015

The long incubation period has earned the HIV/AIDS disease the sobriquet of being called the ‘silent epidemic’. It is because an individual could be infected with the disease for many years without showing any signs and symptoms. It is precisely why an infected person can infect another person since he or she is not aware that he or she has HIV/AIDS.

There are different phases that can divide the infection of HIV. The phases may be different from each other but in most cases, discerning their differences could be difficult. The various complications that may take place in the immune system of a person are determined by the state of health of the infected individual.

The benefit of antiretroviral therapy which allows an infected individual to live for a lot of years has categorized HIV/AIDS as a chronic disease. The symptoms of HIV/AIDS are very difficult to

determine, but there are common ones that usually appear to individuals infected by HIV/AIDS:

  • Dementia
  • Oral thrush caused by a yeast infection called Candida albicans
  • A rare form of skin cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma
  • Recurring Herpes infections
  • Lymphoma
  • Fever with no known cause
  • Mycobacterium avium infection
  • Dry persistent cough
  • Tuberculosis
  • Diarrhea
  • Gut or retinal cytomegalovirus infection
  • Unexplained Weight loss. Once the immune system has been affected, infected individuals lose weight as the disease progresses.
  • Pneumocystis pneumonia
  • Extreme fatigue. Affected immune systems bring on extreme fatigue to most patients afflicted with the HIV/AIDS infection.
  • Cerebral toxoplasmosis
  • Skin infections that are bacterial in nature
  • Night sweats
  • Major complications due to the entry of opportunistic infections even from normally harmless ones

The infected individual may deceive everyone as he or she may look and remain in the best health for a long period without showing any symptoms even when the virus inside the body is already devastating his or her immune system. This is why HIV/AIDS is viewed by the medical group as a very deceiving and traitorous disease. It is also the reason why early diagnosis is difficult to make. There are numerous cases when it is at the terminal stage when patients can be accurately diagnosed which by this time the damage to the immune system is already very extensive that not even a partial treatment can repair it.

With the characterization that the HIV/AIDS has, it is extremely important for the public to be aware of it and the ways to prevent being infected with it. The traitorous nature of the infection where an individual is not even aware that he or she is already infected is the very thing that makes HIV/AIDS highly contagious and difficult to contain. Information of the disease needs to be widely spread more so to third world countries where the infection is most rampant.

In the light of the devastating effects that an HIV/AIDS could do to the immune system of a human body, the best way that this could be prevented from getting infected is to be vigilant at all times.

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Cure for AIDS

by admin July 24, 2015

Researchers feel that they are going in the right direction in their quest for curing HIV/AIDS. There is a case where two babies, born with the HIV infection and treated, lived for a couple of years without showing the presence of the virus.

Yet, one of them has the HIV virus again.

It could be concluded that the treatment was able to get rid of the virus even for a short period, can make a change in the outcome of the treatment for recently infected people.

The usual norm taken for babies suspected of having the HIV virus is a medication program that could stop the virus. However, in the event that there are two positive tests, the medications are changed to ones that are meant to treat HIV. These would be safer for the babies to use as they would be more than two weeks old.

But then doctors could also take different treatment programs. 30 hours after birth a baby born in Mississippi was given treatment while in California, another baby only 4 hours old was also treated.

After a year, the baby from California is still free from HIV. For over two years, the baby from Mississippi was HIV-negative but recently has been shown to be positive again. It seems that after the baby reached 18 months, the mother decided to stop her medications.

The methods that were used on these newly-born babies were a plan that scientists hoped would stop the HIV from forming or totally eliminate the HIV virus that hides in the body.

A professor from the infectious diseases department at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says that the results were not something new. He states further that it leads support to the view that the HIV cells hides in a reservoir in the body and does not go away. He also said that a cure could only happen if this reservoir is eradicated.

Whether this is a breakthrough or a setback only one thing can be concluded from the test that was done on the babies. It proves the theory right that the earlier an HIV-infected person submits to an HIV test and receive treatment, the better health outcome it will give to him or her.

However, the downside to this theory are the infected people who rarely know that they have the disease since signs and symptoms only appear two weeks to a month after infection. It was fine to do with the babies as they were already monitored and tested as soon as their mothers gave birth to them.

What doctors now recommend is for STD testing to be made a requirement for physical health check-ups or for sexually active adults to submit to tests every three to six months.

The thing that holds most adults from having an STD test is the stigma that they face once they go to testing centers. The loss of privacy is their main concern. Yet, as one doctor in an HIV clinic always advise the health care professionals if someone gets a positive HIV test: to ask questions later but start the treatment right away.

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