What is HIV and AIDS?
We all know that HIV and AIDS are some of the main problems that the medical world is being confronted with presently. But what exactly are they? Contrary to the common belief, they are not the same thing. HIV, which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that leads to the disease called Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or in short, AIDS. Even though an HIV infection can eventually cause AIDS, the virus has an incubation period that can last for several years.
Symptoms of HIV and AIDS
The symptoms of the infection can be classified in three main cycles. The first cycle is characterized by symptoms that appear immediately after the virus has entered the organism. This cycle is medically referred to as acute infection, a period in which the patient may experience symptoms similar to those of a cold or flu. If however, the fever, fatigue or sore throat is accompanied by white patches or blisters inside the mouth or throat, this can indicate an HIV infection.
The second cycle, known as the chronic infection, usually does not have any symptoms. This is the period between the infection and the outburst of the disease, during which period the patient can live a normal life, without even being aware of the infection.
The third and final stage commences when the disease known as AIDS has developed in the organism. While AIDS does not have any definite symptoms, it causes the immune system not to work properly, therefore rendering the organism incapable of fighting even the most insignificant infection. Therefore, frequent and persistent pulmonary or gastric diseases can be a sign of AIDS in HIV positive patients. Many AIDS sufferers also get chronic diarrhea or neurological symptoms such as migraines or even seizures.
How is HIV and AIDS Transmitted?
HIV is transmitted through body fluids. Therefore, one can get infected through usage of unsterilized needles or surgical instruments. However, the most common way of contacting an HIV infection is through any kind of unprotected sexual contact. Anybody who does not use protection during the sexual act can get the infection, but those who change partners often pose the highest risk.
Testing and Diagnosis of HIV and AIDS
Any symptom which has been linked to HIV should be brought to the attention of a doctor immediately. Any person who has had unsafe sex and started experiencing the symptoms characteristic to the initial stage of the infection should rush to the doctor because an early diagnose can prove vital.
The most widespread way to diagnose an HIV infection is The ELISA/Western Blot test. The doctor will draw some blood from the patient and will analyze it in order to see whether the virus is present in the blood. If the initial analysis seems to confirm the suspicion of an infection, supplementary blood tests will be required before making the diagnosis. A new and innovative test involves analyzing a biopsy collected from the patient’s inner cheek in order to detect an HIV infection.
The problem posed by HIV and AIDS is so serious that some states have implemented compulsory periodical HIV tests in schools and other similar institutions. Furthermore, HIV tests are also compulsory for blood donors.
Cure and Treatments for HIV and AIDS
Unfortunately, no cure for AIDS has been discovered up to the present day. However, an HIV positive patient can still live a normal life, as long as he follows the treatments available, treatments which can considerably ameliorate the condition. It is important to get medication as soon as the infection is discovered, in order to control the development of the disease. Patients with AIDS can get free counseling sessions, during which they will get the help needed to cope better with their situation. Researchers are working on developing an efficient HIV vaccine which would prevent the infection and eradicate AIDS in the future.