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AIDS – acquired immunodeficiency syndrome

VirusesAIDS is a virus that destroys the helper T-cells of the immune system, thus not allowing them to fight off any infections that a person with a healthy immune system could. Patients are vulnerable to infection by bacteria, such as protozoa and fungi. Initially patients are labeled HIV+ with AIDS. Since the initial reporting of AIDS in 1981, 243,423 patients have died from the disease. AIDS is diagnosed when a person develops HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). HIV can be contacted directly by sexual contact involving body fluid exchange, sharing of hypodermic needles, transfusion of infected blood, and perenatal transmission.
Symptoms

HIV patients may experience degenative symptoms. Initally, the incubation period for HIV infection is six months to ten (plus) years, with the average approximately six years. Antibodies to HIV may appear within several weeks to three months. Patients may have no symptoms and look healthy for years. HIV+ with symptoms may experience fatigue, loss of appitite, swollen glands, night sweats, fever, weight loss, minor infections and/or diarrhea. The immune system begins to weaken. An HIV+ patient with AIDS might possibly show signs of Kaposi’s Sarcoma, pneumonia or other predetermined illnesses, neurological disorders, or a helper T4 cell count below 200 per cubic milliliter. These will occur several months to ten to twelve or more years.

Management/Treatment

There in no current cure for HIV infection and AIDS. Drugs may be effective to reduce the rate at which helper T-cells are destroyed. AZT (Azidothymidine), DDI (Didanosine), and ddC (Didoxycytidine) are commonly used. However, AZT has harsh side effects that weaken its users. No effective vaccine has been developed for humans. HIV can be prevented or reduced, thereby increasing ones chances not to develop HIV or AIDS. This may occur by avoiding contact with bodily fluids, sharing of hypodermic needles, use of protective sexual barriers, and being aware of ones partners and their history.

Persons should be advised of the risk of blood contact and the risks involved. Also, if they should have to care for a person who is bleeding, they should be advised of the proper precautions of handling a situation such as that. The use of plastic gloves as a protective barrier allows one to avoid possible transmission of HIV or other diseases. There are few implications to them if they are educated as to how transmission occurs and how to handle situations in which this may occur. Persons with HIV may engage in sexual activities and not even know that they are infected.  This is why it’s important to be AIDS tested before engaging in sexual intercourse with a partner.

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