What is the difference Between AIDS and HIV?
It is surprising that even though HIV/AIDS happens to be one of the most alarming causes for untimely death, only a select few are appropriately enlightened about it. To begin with, HIV (the abbreviated version of human immunodeficiency virus) is the infection or the virus, to say it more correctly, that is regarded as the root cause or the source of the fatal life-taking disease called the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, popularly known as AIDS. In fact, the people between 25 to 45 years of age are the ones who are most susceptible to the HIV virus attack, which targets the immune structure and finally destroys it, thereby causing AIDS. To put it simply, AIDS is the ultimate phase of the HIV virus.
What are the Symptoms of HIV?
One must be very careful because the initial symptoms of HIV are almost similar to those of regular cold and flu. They could even resemble the symptoms of infections like hepatitis or may be some of the diseases transmitted through sexual contact. What is more, the symptoms of HIV may be pronounced in some and dormant in others. Whatever may be the case, the most common symptoms of HIV are fever and tiredness. Headache, skin irritations and rashes, throat pain as well as bloated lymph nodes are also considered to be some of the regular HIV symptoms.
It is in the “primary or acute HIV infection” period that such symptoms are observed. The acute HIV infection phase stretches from a few days to some weeks from the time a body has been exposed to and thereby contracted the HIV virus. However, due to the non-specificity of the symptoms of the acute HIV infection Syndrome, they are not a dependable medium for HIV diagnosis. A detection of the antibodies to the life-threatening virus of HIV in one’s body is, in fact, the only way to assure its deadly presence. Nevertheless, HIV diagnosis is ineffectual in the phase between the early stages of the infection and the time when the immune system of the infected individual generates the HIV antibodies. This period is usually known as the “window period”.
With the completion of the primary infection period, nothing much is to be noticed or experienced for the next 8 to 11 years. If one does not undergo regular and constant treatment during this period, his/her immune structure steadily gets weakened, paving the path for AIDS. The symptoms of the late stage of HIV infected individuals are generally connected with “opportunistic infections”. They are tuberculosis, pneumonia, or may be toxoplasmosis and similar other diseases that aim AIDS afflicted individuals.
What are the Symptoms of AIDS?
AIDS or the later stage of HIV is also marked by definite symptoms. They are significant loss of weight, energy deficiency and recurring bouts of perspiration and fever. Dry cough, diarrhea, dizziness and nausea also affect a person in the advanced stage of HIV. Moreover, an AIDS patient is more easily bruised than a normal person and also suffers chronically from yeast infections in the vaginal area. Want of breath is something that is augmented with the passage of every day in an AIDS patient of the later stage. Unexplained rash on the skin, which could even bleed, is another common symptom of AIDS. Swelling up of glands in the groin or the armpit area is also a usual symptom of AIDS.
Besides the ones mentioned above, AIDS is also accompanied by more grave symptoms like paralysis, lack of muscular control, alteration in personality or even mental retardation. A discernible change in the state of consciousness can also affect a person suffering from AIDS for long. A victim of AIDS is also predisposed to other critical diseases like cancer. Apart from precise physical ailments, AIDS is also linked with a number of emotional symptoms, of which, depression is the most familiar one. Lactic Acidosis and Lip dystrophy are also problems that an AIDS patient has to cope up with.
How long does it take for HIV to cause AIDS?
Notably, the CD4+ T-cells, which are necessary for the proper functioning of the immune structure, are the principal targets of the HIV virus. However, it is the HIV-positive individuals who are more prone to be affected than the rest. In fact, research shows that HIV-positive individuals are infected long before considerable deterioration in their immune systems are noticed, which thereby exposes them to AIDS and similar other diseases.
What’s the connection between HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases?
The next thought that might intrigue one is the extent of the duration or the time period between the entrance of the HIV virus into the body and its culmination in the form of AIDS. The first thing that needs to be noted is that the HIV virus finds an access into a body either through a direct contact of blood or by penetrating the mucous membranes. According to the latest scientific researches conducted in this field, the gestation period between the time of being infected by the HIV virus and the manifestation of the symptoms of AIDS is roughly around 8 to 15 years.
However, this intermediate period differs to a quite an extent from one person to another. It is largely dependent on the health condition and the habitual as well as the behavioral pattern of an individual. But what needs to be mentioned is that since today significant advancements have been made in the sphere of medicine, it is possible to retard the pace at which the HIV virus damages the immunity. One such medical boon is called the antiretroviral therapy. Furthermore there are also preventive treatments that can check the illnesses that usually accompany the terminal disease of AIDS.
There is indeed a potential link between HIV and many diseases which are transmitted through sexual contact. It so happens that STDs are generally visibly manifested in the form of skin irritations, sores and noticeable cracks, and it is these openings that facilitate the entry of HIV in an individual at the time of sexual union. However, it should be kept in mind that even those STDs which are not attended with sores and irritations also aid the transmission of the deadly virus by producing specific immune reactions in the genitals. Furthermore, it should be remembered that an individual infected with both the HIV virus and some other STD is almost five-fold more susceptible to transmit the virus than one infected only with HIV, particularly at the time of sexual intercourse.
The transmission of this deadly disease can only be checked through thoughtful preventive measures. A health care employee must be very attentive and careful when dealing with an advanced AIDS patient to prevent its transmission. This includes the wearing of gloves, gowns and even masks and eye shields to avoid any direct contact with the infected blood and body fluid of the patient. For such a worker, diligent washing of hands is equally important. Even the health care employees of the dental field should take definite precautionary steps in order to check the spread of this incurable disease.
The HIV virus can also be transmitted from an infected pregnant mother to a child either at the time of giving birth to the child or during breastfeeding. However, HIV-positive women can reduce the chances of passing the virus to their babies by taking certain drugs called the antiretroviral drugs at the time of pregnancy. One may even opt for the treatment called AZT in which zidovudine is administered for a month in the final weeks before delivery. A single measure of nevirapine to the mother at the time of delivery and to the child within three days of its birth is another option.
Even though casual mixing does not lead to the transmission of the HIV virus, a contaminated person must be very cautious while engaging in deliberate physical contact. In spite of the fact that biting and open-mouth kissing are not effective means of transmitting AIDS, they are better avoided as they might involve contact with infected blood. However, when indulging in sexual intercourse, the use of polyurethane or latex condoms is mandatory. A correct and consistent use of the condom is also imperative. Besides male condoms, female condoms are also available.
The most efficient treatment of this disease is well known as the Combination Therapy or the Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy, in which three or may be more anti-HIV drugs are simultaneously administered to the patient. If antiretroviral treatment is inaccessible for an AIDS victim, the only hope left for him/her is the treatment of the opportunistic infections, a means that undoubtedly has a temporary and short-lived advantage when compared to the Combination Therapy. Another decisive issue is the selection of the apt time for initiating the treatment. A factor that should be remembered with regard to the Combination Therapy is that it should be continued irrespective of its side consequences.Best treatment Centers in the world
Inaugurated in 1996 and situated in Mali, West Africa, the Center for Treatment, Activities and Counseling for People Living with HIV/AIDS or CESAC happens to be one of the best AIDS treatment centers in the world. Apart from helping many individuals combat AIDS, CESAC also facilitates the proliferation of close ties and intimate relationships. ICAP or the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs, conducted at Mailman School of Public Health of the Columbia University, is another recognized effort made in this direction. Strikingly, a conscious endeavor is being made to educate people regarding HIV/AIDS, a disease that can be eradicated only through an enlightened consciousness.
http://www.aids.org/info/how-long-hiv-cause-aids.html http://www.aids.gov/basic/faq/index.html http://aids.about.com/od/technicalquestions/f/hivstd.htm http://www.unicef.org/aids/index_preventionMTCT.html
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