HIV/AIDS, also known as human immunodeficiency virus infection/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is a complex condition that affects the immune system. Here’s some information about HIV/AIDS: HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus): HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, specifically the CD4 cells (also known as T cells). CD4 cells are crucial in helping the body fight off infections and diseases. If left untreated, HIV can gradually destroy these cells, weakening the immune system.
Transmission: HIV can be transmitted through certain bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. The most common modes of transmission include unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing needles or syringes, mother-to-child transmission during childbirth or breastfeeding, and rarely, through blood transfusions or organ transplants (though rigorous screening processes have significantly reduced this risk in many countries).
Progression: After HIV enters the body, it replicates and spreads, but the infected person may not experience any noticeable symptoms for many years. However, the virus is still active and can be transmitted during this time. Without treatment, HIV infection can progress to AIDS.
AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome): AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection. It occurs when the immune system is severely damaged, leaving the person susceptible to various opportunistic infections and cancers. The diagnosis of AIDS is typically based on specific clinical criteria, such as the presence of certain infections or a low CD4 cell count.
Symptoms: The symptoms of HIV/AIDS can vary from person to person and depend on the stage of infection. In the early stages, some individuals may experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes. As the disease progresses, without treatment, more severe symptoms may occur, including weight loss, persistent diarrhea, night sweats, and opportunistic infections.
Treatment: While there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, significant advancements in treatment have been made over the years. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the standard treatment for HIV/AIDS. ART involves taking a combination of medications that helps suppress the virus, slows down its progression, and allows the immune system to recover. With proper treatment and care, people living with HIV can lead long and healthy lives.