World AIDS Day
Every first day of December of every year has been designated as World AIDS Day as a way for people from all over the world to stop and see the progress that has been done to prevent or eventually stop the prevalent spread of HIV/AIDS. Some of the promising breakthroughs are from Thailand where an ongoing vaccine against HIV/AIDS is being studied; another is in South Africa involving a microbicide study; and a study on HIV drug usage targeting infection involving different countries. All of these may take some time to implement, but heartwarming nevertheless for the new hope that it brings to thousands of HIV/AIDS infected people which could pave the way for the eventual prevention of the infection.
The prevention techniques pose a challenge for people to see the seriousness of the disease and take the necessary action to make sure that prevention of HIV is implemented. Discipline and mind-setting should be the right attitude for people to use to a point where it will be an automatic gesture for everyone to use microbicides and condoms when there is an expected sexual activity. These behavioral changes will be one of the most effective weapons against prevention of HIV/AIDS. It should be seen that HIV/AIDS will not end by using a single method but rather a series of methods used regularly.
Historically, vaccines have proved to be the best weapon against epidemics. Measles, polio, and smallpox have been eradicated and prevented with effective vaccines. The pandemic nature of AIDS needs an effective vaccine which a few developed ones are showing great potential. Thinking about having a successful vaccine to protect and prevent HIV/AIDS is an exciting thought that could help the entire world in destroying the scourge of this deadly infection.
The World AIDS day is one positive step for the whole world to combine forces that do away with race, sex, religion, age, and social status, standing as one in a fight against a common deadly enemy, the HIV/AIDS that has claimed the lives of thousands, if not millions of people. It is also a special day for making people become aware that health organizations, centers, and governments can only do as much, but the rest of the effort rests on each and every one of us. Discipline, a sense of responsibility, and awareness are some of the keys towards containing the spread of the infection.
It is also a special day to be thankful for the tireless efforts that modern medical technologies have made for this disease in terms of research, the latest techniques in prevention, and the never-ceasing search for an affordable, safe, and effective vaccine. The day is also dedicated to the memory of people who have been victims of HIV/AIDS as people from all parts of the globe look forward to a day when fear of death or infection will not be the hindrance to loving someone.
May this day be forever commemorated and celebrated every year even when a cure could be miraculously developed to make HIV/AIDS eradicated, never to return.Read More
Human Immunodeficiency Virus – What is HIV?
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
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.Read More
The Dark Menace of HIV
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.
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.Read More
Symptoms of HIV in Men
HIV in men can have a range of signs and symptoms which include fatigue, flu-like symptoms, weight loss, and dementia.
The symptoms that appear in men infected with the HIV virus will not vary differently from women. Other than menstrual and vaginal changes all the signs and symptoms will almost be the same in both men and women.
Between two patients, there can be an important variation in HIV symptoms. Two HIV-infected men will not have the same experience.
Taken generally, this is the usual pattern that occurs in an HIV infection affecting men:
- Flu-like illness: This may or may not happen. If it happens, most likely it will occur 1-2 weeks after infection. The symptoms would include chills, sickness, and fever.
- Latency phase: A very long asymptomatic period that could stretch to 10 years.
- Final phase: The highly weakened state of the immune system is unable to ward off many different infections.
A serious flu-like sickness would be the earliest symptom that will be manifested by HIV-infected men. It is also referred to as the ‘seroconversion illness’. At this point, it is where the blood of the infected person is being converted to HIV positive. This conversion makes the infected person experience flu-like sickness that will have the following symptoms:
- Significant loss of weight
- Painful headaches
- Diarrhea and sickness
- High- grade fever
- Extreme muscle pains and aches
- General weakness and fatigue
Rashes and ulcers
Odd skin problems can happen either on the early phase or late phase of an HIV infection in men:
- There may be a development of painful ulcers in the throat or mouth which does not disappear causing difficulty in eating.
- There will be an appearance of rashes in the moist parts of the body such as the anus, groin, and penis.
- The rashes may either be painless or itchy.
- They may also appear on the palms of the hands, neck and face, and body or chest.
The latency phase is an asymptomatic stage that may take up to 10 years after infection. This is the time when you feel perfectly fine and healthy and may even look well. Yet, this is also the busiest time for the HIV virus as it takes over the white blood cells of the body and in the process destroys the immune system.
Some HIV-positive men have complained of severe swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin or neck or both during this phase. This is the only symptom in men that has been noted for this stage.
It may take years of being symptom-free, but the infection from the HIV virus will eventually devastate the immune system. This leaves the very weak immune system open to all opportunistic infections that could normally be warded off by a healthy one. These will be the symptoms:
- Impaired motor skills accompanied by dementia and confusion.
- Fungal infections that cannot be healed despite application of numerous anti-fungal medication.
- Recurring viruses, colds, and flu.
If any or all of the symptoms is being experienced, the best to do is to have an HIV test done as early as possible so treatment can still be applied before it is too late.Read More
Symptoms of an HIV Rash
Contracting the HIV virus can make infected people acquire the symptoms of an HIV rash. It would be unfortunate if there’s an appearance of rashes since it would signify that the infection has progressed to full-blown AIDS.
Here are the symptoms of an HIV rash:
At any moment in the life of an HIV infected person, rashes will make an appearance on his or her skin. The rash could be because of the HIV, but it could also be a side-effect of the medications that are given to gain control over the disease.
The appearance of the rash would be small bumps over a small swollen patch of skin. The color of the rash in an HIV-infected person would be different as that of common rashes found in inflammations or allergies. If the HIV-infected person has skin color that is pale or light, the rash would be colored either red-brown or dark red. If the infected person has dark colored skin the rash color would be either purple-black or dark brown. The rash has a tendency to make an appearance 2-3 weeks after the person has become infected. As stated, it would also signify that the infection has reached the last stage. It is for this reason that knowledge of the signs and symptoms of the HIV infection is very important so a doctor can be consulted right away when you start to get the symptoms. This is not only applicable to the HIV but also to other infections and diseases as the earlier a disease is diagnosed and treated, the better chance that it could save a life.
The skin becomes dry and scaly the moment the rash appears in an HIV-infected person. It could be compared to a bad psoriasis break-out. In women, as soon as the rashes appear, it follows that genital warts or sores will also happen. The HIV rash that makes an appearance in women will not be dissimilar from the men and will show the same symptoms. In the acute stage of the HIV rash, there will be blisters and sores on the genitals with some skin peeling. During the first stage of treatment, the rash will not only affect the genital area but also will make an appearance on the face. Rash as a symptom of the HIV infection is very important since more often an accurate diagnosis can be formed from them.
The information about the various signs and symptoms of an HIV rash should be taken as a way of making each and every one of us vigilant against this deadly disease. Prevention will still be the best medicine to take and protective barriers like a condom should always be the extra precaution to take before engaging in a sexual relationship with an unknown partner. It is also imperative that should you find yourself infected, the best possible way to combat or control the disease is to have tests done so a mode of treatment can be implemented.Read More
Important Facts about HIV/AIDS
An HIV test would be the most important thing that you have to do when you feel that the unprotected sex that you had with a stranger has exposed you to the infection or you accidentally had exposure to the blood of an infected person.
Here are some important facts about HIV/AIDS that you need to know:
Mode of transmission
Exchange of body fluids from an infected person to a non-infected person is the mode of transmission which includes:
- Accidental exposure or blood transfusions to infected blood
- Anal, oral, and vaginal sexual contact
- Sharing of needles with an infected person.
- Breast milk from an infected mother to infant. This includes transmission to the baby by an infected pregnant mother before and during birth.
Abstinence is the most effective, but if this is highly unlikely, protective barriers must be used such as a condom for all sexual contact with strangers or multiple partners. Oral sex should be avoided when there is the presence of sores and cuts in the mouth. A drug habit that uses needles should never be shared. It should also be disposed of properly after use. The same rule applies to people who use medications that need to be injected such as insulin.
Signs and Symptoms
It is unfortunate that HIV/AIDS are asymptomatic during the initial stage of infection. It will only manifest as flu-like symptoms after 2 weeks or longer that include swollen lymph nodes in the groin, throat, and armpit, fever, joint pains, and fatigue. The infected person will recover from this initial bout of symptoms and experience a symptom-free period. This does not mean that the virus has been eradicated but rather it is the time that the HIV virus is slowly destroying the immune system of the infected person. The next time an infected person feels unwell it will be too late for the infection would have progressed to full-blown AIDS where the immune system will not be able to cope up with all sorts of infections including the harmless ones.
There is no cure for HIV/AIDS. Retroviral drugs can be a mode of treatment which could only make the HIV cells lie dormant in the system. The virus will be immediately activated when the infected person stops taking the retroviral drugs. A lot of researches are being done to find the cure for HIV/AIDS but for now, prevention is still the best protection from the infection.
The HIV test
HIV/AIDS is a pandemic disease that has made all health organizations create numerous testing centers in order to contain the infection. Clinics, laboratories, and testing centers offer HIV testing that can determine if you have become infected with the disease. They also offer medical counseling before and after the tests have been done.
If privacy is what you are after, HIV Test home kits are readily available at drugstores or online. This will allow you to get the specimens in the privacy of your home. Just make sure that the states where you live in allow home test kits as there are states who rule them as illegal.Read More
How is HIV transmitted?
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.Read More
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.Read More
HIV-infected individuals and researchers have trekked the long and arduous road in their never-ending search for an HIV vaccine. As of today, no vaccine has been developed which could stop a person to get infected with HIV, the deadly virus that eventually progresses to AIDS. There have been varying levels of success that has been gained from the different methods used by researchers to develop an HIV vaccine that will successfully work. Developing an effective vaccine against the HIV virus has proven to be hard as its characteristic is very different from that of other viruses. The HIV virus’ capability to quickly adjust to medications is the reason why four kinds of drugs are given to patients to fight the virus.
The vaccines that have been successfully developed and used today to fight other viruses were patented after the gained natural immunity from an infection. A virus, like the flu virus, cannot re-infect an individual that has been infected and cured of it. In the case of AIDS, developing a vaccine from immunity is not possible since no infected individual has been cured of the infection. A large number of available vaccines sold in the market usually consist of either dead or live attenuated organisms. These vaccines have no effect with HIV as using a retrovirus that is alive or dead has no antigens to combat it, notwithstanding the fact that it could even lead to serious health complications as well.
On the upside, great progress has been made in the last couple of years’ search for an HIV vaccine. A mosaic vaccine developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory by their researchers believe that the vaccine can help the immune system of a human body respond to HIV despite its capability to replicate. Tests done to lab animals such as mice and monkeys show the vaccine to highly increase the responses of their immune system. Human trials using this vaccine are next planned by the researchers which gained inspiration from the donations coming in from various foundations.
Another vaccine has been developed by the Maryland School of Medicine. The developed vaccine shows an increased production of powerful antibodies to combat the different species of HIV. The safe use of the vaccine for human consumption and its capability to get a response from an individual’s immune system are the focus of the researchers in their evaluation for this newly developed vaccine. If the study is funded properly, the search for an HIV vaccine may finally become successful in the forthcoming years. For the last 20 years, scientists and researchers have done all they could to understand and fight the virus which conveys a message of hope coming in from top experts of this particular field which could bring about the eradication of this traitorous and deadly disease.
In the meantime, vigilance from each and everyone could help contain the infection from spreading further. Safe sex practices have to be followed and made a part of every sexual activity in order for the HIV infection to be stopped.Read More
Media attention is no longer focused on Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV that is the precursor to AIDS as it was during the 1980s, not because it does not exist anymore. Far from it because until now there is still no cure for the HIV/AIDS disease, but a sudden rise in the number of infected people has prompted the Centers for Disease Control to re-direct their attention to HIV testing. This action and announcement from the CDC came as a timely issue as it came during the celebration of the World AIDS Day.
The reason for CDC to encourage and implement an HIV testing was the more than 200,000 population in the U.S. infected with the HIV disease and are unaware of the fact. This would mean these 200,000 people could just as easily pass the infection on to more people. Another alarming finding was the 55 percent of adult Americans who have never ever been tested for an HIV infection despite the rising numbers of HIV/AIDS infected people all over the world, if not in the United States. With this issues in mind, CDC is now making it a requirement for all adults to be regularly screened and states further the one of their top priority programs would be HIV testing.
The hindrances that usually make adult Americans to avoid HIV screening would be the expensive cost of the blood testing and the embarrassment of asking for an HIV test from his or her doctor. This situation is known to the CDC when they revealed that there are 47 million adult Americans who forego medical care on some very serious diseases such as HIV, high blood pressure, and diabetes even at great risk to their health because of the costs and stigma.
In a direct line to these health needs, the nation’s leader has responded with the offer of nationwide HIV testing that is affordable, fast, and confidential. Participating labs found everywhere offer the services no matter where individuals live.
The HIV testing packages have been specially created to make it even more affordable and they include HIV-2 EIA, HIV-1 Abs, and HIV-1 Western Block. The HIV-1 Abs is the least expensive which has made it the most popular HIV test in the United States with only one business day fast turnaround time and results. This would mean instant knowledge if tests are positive or negative which do away with the usual stress of waiting for a long time for the result to come. Another great thing about this program is the HIV-1 ICMA antibodies that come with a Western Blot confirmation at no extra charge should the tests show a recurring positive result.
A positive result after an HIV-1 Abs testing has been done is usually backed by the HIV-1 Western Blot test to confirm the result. The different ‘bands’ that make up the different kinds of HIV antigen groups are the areas that the HIV-1 Western Blot test concentrates on should there be a positive result coming in from an HIV test.Read More