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What is HIV & AIDS?

HIV is stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The HIV virus can lead to immune deficiency syndrome Called AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Virus).

Is there more then 1 type of HIV Virus?

Yes, there are 2 types of HIV Virus; HIV-1 & HIV-2
Both types of HIV damage a person’s body by destroying specific blood cells, called CD4+ T cells, which are crucial to helping the body fight diseases.
Electron microscope image of HIV The small green spheres on the surface of white blood cells.

Were did HIV/AIDS come from?

For many years scientists theorized as to the origins of HIV and how it appeared in the human population, most believing that HIV originated in other primates. Then in 1999, an international team of researchers reported that they had discovered the origins of HIV-1, the predominant strain of HIV in the developed world.

Scientists identified a type of chimpanzee in West Africa as the source of HIV infection in humans. They believe that the chimpanzee version of the immunodeficiency virus (called simian immunodeficiency virus or SIV) most likely was transmitted to humans and mutated into HIV when humans hunted these chimpanzees for meat and came into contact with their infected blood. Over decades, the virus slowly spread across Africa and later into other parts of the world.

How is HIV spread?

Most common ways of transmitting / getting HIV
  • Unprotected Sex
  • Having multiple sex partners or the presence of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can increase the risk of infection during sex.
  • Sharing needles, syringes, rinse water, or other equipment used to prepare illicit drugs for injection.
  • Being born to an infected mother—HIV can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy, birth, or breast-feeding.

Less Common ways of transmitting / getting HIV
  • Being “stuck” with an HIV-contaminated needle or other sharp object. This risk pertains mainly to healthcare workers.

  • Receiving blood transfusions, blood products, or organ/tissue transplants that are contaminated with HIV.  This risk is extremely remote due to the rigorous testing of the U.S. blood supply and donated organs/tissue.

  • HIV may also be transmitted through unsafe or unsanitary injections or other medical or dental practices.  However, the risk is also remote with current safety standards in the U.S.

  • Eating food that has been pre-chewed by an HIV-infected person.  The contamination occurs when infected blood from a caregiver’s mouth mixes with food while chewing.  This appears to be a rare occurrence and has only been documented among infants whose caregiver gave them pre-chewed food. 

  • Being bitten by a person with HIV. Each of the very small number of cases has included severe trauma with extensive tissue damage and the presence of blood. There is no risk of transmission if the skin is not broken. 

  • Contact between broken skin, wounds, or mucous membranes and HIV-infected blood or blood-contaminated body fluids. These reports have also been extremely rare.

  • There is an extremely remote chance that HIV could be transmitted during “French” or deep, open-mouth kissing with an HIV-infected person if the HIV-infected person’s mouth or gums are bleeding.

  • Tattooing or body piercing present a potential risk of HIV transmission, but no cases of HIV transmission from these activities have been documented. Only sterile equipment should be used for tattooing or body piercing.

  • There have been a few documented cases in Europe and North Africa where infants have been infected by unsafe injections and then transmitted HIV to their mothers through breastfeeding.  There have been no documented cases of this mode of transmission in the U.S.

How can I prevent myself from getting the HIV Virus?

  • Know your HIV status. Everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should be tested for HIV at least once. If you are at increased risk for HIV, you should be tested for HIV at least once a year. 
  • If you have HIV, you can get medical care, treatment, and supportive services to help you stay healthy and reduce your ability to transmit the virus to others.
  • If you are pregnant and find that you have HIV, treatments are available to reduce the chance that your baby will have HIV.
  • Abstain from sexual activity or be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.
  • Limit your number of sex partners. The fewer partners you have, the less likely you are to encounter someone who is infected with HIV or another STD.
  • Correct and consistent condom use. Latex condoms are highly effective at preventing transmission of HIV and some other sexually transmitted diseases. “Natural” or lambskin condoms do not provide sufficient protection against HIV infection.
  • Get tested and treated for STDs and insist that your partners do too.
  • Male circumcision has also been shown to reduce the risk of HIV transmission from women to men during vaginal sex.
  • Do not inject drugs. If you inject drugs, you should get counseling and treatment to stop or reduce your drug use. If you cannot stop injecting drugs, use clean needles and works when injecting. 
  • Obtain medical treatment immediately if you think you were exposed to HIV. Sometimes, HIV medications can prevent infection if they are started quickly. This is called post-exposure prophylaxis.
  • Participate in risk reduction programs. Programs exist to help people make healthy decisions, such as negotiating condom use or discussing HIV status. Your health department can refer you to programs in your area.

How dose the HIV blood test work?

  • Most HIV tests are antibody tests that measure the antibodies your body makes against HIV. It can take some time for the immune system to produce enough antibodies for the antibody test to detect, and this time period can vary from person to person. This time period is commonly referred to as the “window period.” Most people will develop detectable antibodies within 2 to 8 weeks (the average is 25 days). Even so, there is a chance that some individuals will take longer to develop detectable antibodies. Therefore, if the initial negative HIV test was conducted within the first 3 months after possible exposure, repeat testing should be considered >3 months after the exposure occurred to account for the possibility of a false-negative result. Ninety-seven percent of persons will develop antibodies in the first 3 months following the time of their infection. In very rare cases, it can take up to 6 months to develop antibodies to HIV.
  • Another type of test is an RNA test, which detects the HIV virus directly. The time between HIV infection and RNA detection is 9–11 days. These tests, which are more costly and used less often than antibody tests, are used in some parts of the United States.

  • There are also rapid HIV tests available that can give results in as little as 20 minutes. A positive HIV test result means that a person may have been infected with HIV. All positive HIV test results, regardless of whether they are from rapid or conventional tests, must be verified by a second “confirmatory” HIV test.

What are the symptoms of HIV/AIDS?

When someone is first infected with HIV, they may have no signs or symptoms at all, although they are still able to transmit the virus to others. Many people develop a breif flu-like illness two or four weeks after becoming infected. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Sore Throat
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Rash

Years Later
A person may remain symptom-free for years, but as the virus continues to multiply and destroy immune cells, the person may develop mild infections or chronic symptoms such as: 
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Fever
  • Cough and shortness of breath

What are the stages for HIV/AIDS?

Most of us are used to thinking of disease in very simple terms: if you feel sick, you are sick; if you feel healthy, you are healthy. However, because HIV may begin causing subtle changes in the immune system long before an infected person feels sick, most doctors have adopted the term "HIV disease" to cover the entire HIV spectrum, from initial infection to full-blown AIDS (which is also called "advanced HIV disease").

The HIV continuum described below is representative of the experience of many people with HIV. The time that it takes for each individual to go through these stages varies. For most people, however, the progression of HIV disease is fairly slow, taking several years from infection to the development of severe immune suppression.

Following exposure to the virus, HIV enters the bloodstream and begins to take up residence in the cells; this is when HIV infection occurs. People with HIV are considered to be infectious (able to transmit HIV to others) immediately after infection with the virus. A person with HIV is infectious at all times. Also, a person does not need to have symptoms or look sick to have HIV. In fact, people may look perfectly healthy for many years despite the fact that they have HIV in their bodies. The only way to find out if you are infected is by taking an HIV test.

STAGE 1: Primary HIV infectionIs the first stage of HIV disease, typically lasting only a week or two, when the virus first establishes itself in the body. Some researchers use the term acute HIV infection to describe the period of time between when a person is first infected with HIV and when antibodies (proteins made by the immune system in response to infection) against the virus are produced by the body (usually 6 to 12 weeks) and can be detected by an HIV test.

STAGE 2: Seroconversion
This term refers to the time when an HIV positive person's immune system responds to the infection by producing antibodies to the virus. Most people develop antibodies within three months after infection, and some can take up to six months. If an antibody test is done before seroconversion is complete, it may give a "false negative" result because sufficient antibodies have not yet been developed by the body. A three-month window period between infection and production of antibodies is normal for most of the population. Very, very rarely (i.e., in only a few cases ever), a person may take six months to produce antibodies. To be certain of your HIV status, take an HIV antibody test three months or longer after you were exposed to the virus. For even greater certainty, get tested again six months after the exposure occurred.

STAGE 3: The Asymptomatic StageAfter the acute stage of HIV infection, people infected with HIV continue to look and feel completely well for long periods, usually for many years. During this time, the only indication that you are infected with HIV is that you will test positive on standard (antibody) HIV tests and you may have swollen lymph glands. This means that you look and feel healthy but can infect other people through unprotected sex or through needle sharing -- especially if you have not been tested and do not know that you are infected. Even though an infected person may appear perfectly healthy, HIV is still very active and is continuing to weaken the immune system during this stage. In some individuals, the virus appears to slowly damage the immune system 
over a number of years. In most people, however, a faster decline of the immune system occurs at some point, and the virus rapidly replicates. This damage can be seen in blood tests before any actual symptoms are experienced.
STAGE 4: Early- and Medium-Stage HIV Symptomatic Disease
When the immune system is compromised by HIV infection, many people begin to experience some mild HIV disease symptoms, such as skin rashes, fatigue, night sweats, slight weight loss, mouth ulcers, and fungal skin and nail infections.Most, though not all, will experience mild symptoms such as these before developing more serious illnesses. Although one's prognosis varies greatly depending on a number of factors, it is generally believed that it takes five to seven years for the first mild symptoms to appear. These symptoms mark the early and medium stages of HIV symptomatic disease. As the disease progresses, some individuals may become quite ill even if they have not yet been diagnosed with AIDS, the late stage of HIV disease. Typical problems include chronic oral or vaginal thrush (a fungal rash or spots), recurrent herpes blisters on the mouth (cold sores) or genitals, ongoing fevers, persistent diarrhea, and significant weight loss. These symptoms are not necessarily specific to HIV or the development of AIDS. However, they should be of concern to people who have tested positive for HIV. Usually, symptoms occur when the virus has already caused considerable damage to the immune system. For that reason, people with HIV should not wait until symptoms appear to get medical treatment. Also, people with high risk for HIV infection should not wait to for symptoms to appear before getting tested.

STAGE 5: Late-Stage HIV Disease (AIDS)Receiving an AIDS diagnosis does not necessarily mean that the diagnosed person will die soon; some people have lived for many years after their diagnosis. This is even more the case today with the availability of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), which has helped extend the lives of thousands of people living with HIV and AIDS. In addition, many opportunistic infections can be prevented or treated successfully. This has substantially increased the longevity and quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS. Does everyone who has HIV eventually develop AIDS? We don't know for certain. Studies show that the majority of untreated people do eventually become ill from HIV. However, with regular medical care and other positive lifestyle factors, such as emotional support, many long-term survivors have been living with HIV/AIDS for upwards of two decades. As existing treatments are used earlier in the course of HIV disease and new treatments are developed, it has become possible to further postpone, and perhaps even prevent, illness.

What are the treatment options for HIV/ADIS 

Usually, the CD4 test is used to determine when a person should start treatment.

A CD4 test measures the number of T-helper cells (in a cubic millimetre of blood) which is known as a CD4 count. Someone who is not infected with HIV normally has between 500 and 1200 cells/mm3. In a person infected with HIV, the CD4 count often declines over a number of years.

HIV drug treatment is generally recommended when the CD4 test shows fewer than 350 cells/mm3. World Health Organization (WHO) 2010 guidelines recommend starting treatment for all patients with CD4 counts of <350 cells/mm3 in all countries. Although most resource-limited countries aim to follow these guidelines, a number still observe the WHO's 2006 guidelines, which recommend starting treatment at less than 200 cells/mm3.

Treatment includes: 
  • Antiretrovirals, also know as ARVs, anti-HIV or anti-AIDS drugs - The aim of antiretroviral treatment is to keep the amount of HIV in the body at a low level. This stops any weakening of the immune system and allows it to recover from any damage that HIV might have caused already; This Main type of treatment option for HIV Virus.
  • Combination of three or more anti-HIV drugs is sometimes referred to as Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART). Doctor tend to use his type of treatment  because if a person infected with HIV only used one drug , the HIV would quickly become resistant to it and the drug would stop working. Taking two or more antiretrovirals at the same time vastly reduces the rate at which resistance would develop, making treatment more effective in the long term.
  • First & second Line Therapy - At the beginning of treatment, the combination of drugs that a person is given is called first line therapy. If after a while HIV becomes resistant to this combination, or if side effects are particularly bad, then a change to second line therapy is usually recommended. Second line therapy will ideally include a minimum of three new drugs, with at least one from a new class, in order to increase the likelihood of treatment success.

HIV/AIDS Facts & Statistics  

  • Yo cannot get Aids by hugging or kissing someone (unless you are "french Kissing" someone with HIV/AIDS, even then it is rare for someone to contract the HIV Virus)
  • There are more than 20 approved antiretroviral drugs but not all are licensed or available in every country
  • There are five groups of antiretroviral drugs
  • Since 1990, the global number of people leaving with HIV has increased. 
  • In year 2009, the number started decreasing and are now about the same as in 2007. 
  • By then end of 2010 there are 34 million people infected with the HIV Virus, compared 
  • to back in 1990 when only 8 million were infected world wide.

America Vs. Africa

  • HIV in America Unless otherwise noted, the term “HIV” primarily refers to HIV-1, however the first case of HIV-2 infection in the United States was diagnosed in 1987.
  • During 2009, there were an estimated 42,959 new diagnoses of HIV infection in the 40 states and five dependent areas. Adult or adolescent males accounted for three-quarters of new HIV diagnoses. The main transmission route among males was male-to-male sexual contact (74%), followed by heterosexual contact (14%) and injecting drug use (8%). Among female adult and adolescents, 84.9% were infected through heterosexual contact and 14.8% through injecting drug use.

  • In 2009 blacks/African Americans made up an estimated 50% of new HIV diagnoses, whites 27%, and Hispanics/Latinos 19%. HIV was diagnosed in an estimated 166 children (<13 years at diagnosis) in 2009, all but 35 became infected through mother-to-child transmission.
  • HIV-2 infections are predominantly found in Africa. West African nations with a prevalence of HIV-2 of more than 1% in the general population are Cape Verde, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. Other West African countries reporting HIV-2 are Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Niger, São Tomé, Senegal, and Togo. Angola and Mozambique are other African nations where the prevalence of HIV-2 is more than 1%.
  • Estimated adult (aged 15-49) HIV prevalence, in 2009 was 6.3%
  • Estimated number of people (all ages) living with HIV, 2009, estimate 1500 thousand
  • Estimated number of people (all ages) living with HIV, in 2009, low estimate 1300 thousand
  • Mother-to-child transmission, Estimated number of women (aged 15+) living with HIV, in 2009, 760 thousand
  • Paediatric infections, Estimated number of children (aged 0-14) living with HIV, in 2009,  180 thousand
  • Orphans, Children (aged 0-17) orphaned by AIDS, in 2009,

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