HIV i.e. Human Immunodeficiency Virus is called retro virus. The virus is believed to have originated from chimpanzees in West Africa in the 1930s. The virus reached the human blood while hunting. The virus then spread throughout Africa and other parts of the world for decades.
Meanwhile, the virus was identified in the US in 1981 after unusually high rates of pneumonia and a rare form of cancer were found among young gay men. At the time it was called Gay Related Immune Deficiency – GRID. It was later renamed to AIDS in 1982.
At that time many women were found to be infected with the virus and it was passed on to babies during pregnancy and delivery.
According to 2020 data from the World Health Organization, 37.7 million people are living with HIV globally. This includes 16.7 million men and 19.3 million women. 1.3 million of them are pregnant women and 1.7 million cases are children under 15 years of age.
The virus is spread through blood as well as body fluids such as semen and vaginal fluids. Unprotected sex, including vaginal, oral or anal, with an infected person is a risk factor. Then sharing the needles and shaving blades of infected drug addicts is another risk factor.
The use of non-disposable infected surgical blades and injection needles also increases the risk. However, nowadays disposable syringes and blades are being used.
The virus can pass from an infected pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy and delivery.
There is a risk of virus transmission even if there is no proper hygiene while getting a tattoo or piercing any part of the body.
HIV is not spread by shaking hands, working together, eating together, using toilet seats, doorknobs or dishes.
HIV first attacks the helper T cells (CD 4 cells) that are very important for the body’s defense system in the blood. The virus then doubles using the CD4 cell mechanism and starts spreading throughout the body. The disease then begins to affect the body’s immune system, resulting in the destruction of CD4 cells and the person succumbing to the disease.
In the initial stage after infection, the patient has mild flu-like symptoms. The flu lasts for one to six weeks. Symptoms like fever, sore throat, muscle pain, joint pain, skin rash, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, mouth ulcers, fatigue, genital ulcers can also be seen.
Most symptoms resolve gradually over a few weeks. Some patients may have mild symptoms or even no symptoms at all. This, called the latency period, can last up to ten years.
A progressive attack of the virus damages the immune system. When the system becomes unable to protect a person from other serious infections, HIV infection is called AIDS. Laboratory tests will show a high viral load and decreased CD 4 cells.
Some of the symptoms of AIDS also include oral thrush, fatigue, headache, dry cough, weight loss, diarrhea, loss of muscle strength, etc.
It should be mentioned here that HIV positive patients can easily become victims of covid, hepatitis B and C and tuberculosis as well as fungal infections. Patients with HIV infection and AIDS may also develop Kaposi’s sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, pharyngeal, oral and rectal cancers, lung and liver cancers.
In the 1980s, the average life expectancy after an AIDS diagnosis was about one year. However, anti-retroviral therapy (ART) now prolongs the life expectancy of patients with HIV infection. Today, HIV patients can expect to live as long as the general population with the combination of antiretroviral drugs that started earlier in the treatment of HIV infection.
– Avoid risky sex.
– Avoid multiple sex partners, use condoms to prevent transmission.
– Do not use the needles and blades of infected drug abusers.
– Avoid tattoos and body piercings in unsafe environments.
– Testing for HIV and other STDs.
– Pregnant women who are infected with HIV should also receive regular ART treatment.
A preplanned cesarean section reduces the risk of viral transmission to the baby compared to a normal delivery. Especially when the viral load is high or unknown.
Children of HIV positive mothers receive ART for 4 to 6 weeks. HIV positive mothers not taking ART should breastfeed.
HIV-AIDS patients should get covid vaccination. Such patients suffer from depression anxiety and stress. Suicidal thoughts may occur. So joining a support group, doing meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises gives relief. Good food, adequate rest and sleep are very important to strengthen the immune system.
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