What is AIDS? Essay

AIDS is short for “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome”, and is a viral infectious disease. It is a surveillance definition based on symptoms, infections and cancers associated with the deficiency of the immune system that stems from infection with HIV. AIDS has been haunting the world for the past two decades, killing millions of people and showing no signs of resignation. The disease frightens us not only because it’s fatal, but also because its insidious time course makes us all potential carriers before it hands our heads in a basket.Human Immune Deficiency Virus (HIV) is the pathogen that causes AIDS. HIV is a retrovirus that selectively infects helper T cells, and destroys or impairs their function.

HIV particles are usually round and have a diameter of about 85-95nm. The virus is notorious for its ability to mutate and change shape regularly, and thereby evade the effects of drugs and elude detection from the human immune system. There are two species of HIV – HIV 1 and HIV 2. HIV 1 is more common, more virulent, and more easily transmitted, whereas HIV 2 is weaker and mostly confined to West Africa.Viral envelope – Viral envelopes are used to help the virus enter host cells, and to protect the virus from nuclease enzymes in the host fluids. It may be composed of lipids, proteins, or carbohydrates.Nucleic acid – Nucleic acids in the form of DNA and RNA control cellular function and heredity.

It contains the genetic blueprint for making more HIV viruses.Matrix Proteins – Matrix proteins have been implicated in control of viral transcription. These proteins are also structural proteins linking the viral envelope with the virus core.Surface proteins – Surface proteins enable HIV to attach to receptors on the host cells (T cells and macrophages).Reverse transcriptase – Two copies of these enzyme catalyses the formation of DNA on an RNA template once inside the host cells.Capsid –A capsid is a protein shell that surrounds a virus particle.

It protects the nucleic acids (RNA) within. image33.pngThese are the four main methods of transmission of HIV:Having unprotected sex with someone who is infected.Injection or transfusion of contaminated blood or blood products, donations of semen, skin grafts or organ transplantsA mother who is infected passing the virus on to her child.Sharing unsterilized injection equipment that has previously been used by someone who is infected. image34.

pngInjection/transfusion of bloodThe risk of being infected by a single prick of needle that has been used by a HIV infected person is 0.7 percent. According to the WHO, between 5% and 10% of the world’s HIV infections come from transfusion of infected blood and blood products.Mother to childThe HIV transmission rate from a mother to her baby is 25%. However, if the mother undergoes antiretroviral therapy and gives birth by caesarean section, the rate of transmission is only 1%. Breastfeeding increases the risk of the infection by about 4 %SalivaThough HIV can be present in saliva, it apparently exists at a very low concentration – possibly too low to allow transmission.

So far there has been no incidence reported with this method of transmission. image35.pngimage35.pngKissingTheoretically, HIV can be transmitted through deep kissing, but in reality, there are no proven cases. Although it is definitely possible to transmit HIV when there’s a wound or blood present in the person’s mouth.image36.pngBitingThere have been at least two reported cases of police officers being bitten by HIV infected individuals. However, in both circumstances HIV transmission did not occur.

Nevertheless, it is still possible to become infected through this method.SpittingNo documented cases of infection from this situation have been found, however, a very small risk still exists – although it is probably too small to be measured.image02.pngSharing food or dishesThere are no known reports of this way of transmission, and a number of experts claim it cannot possibly happen.Casual contactThere has always been great fear for many to touch or even stand in the same room with a HIV infected person. This is a common misunderstanding, because HIV can’t be transmitted through touching and isn’t airborneimage03.pngSweatHIV doesn’t exist in sweat, so there is no risk of becoming infected through contact with sweat.

InsectsNo known insect is able to transmit or even contract HIV, so it is impossible to get HIV through an insect.When a person is first infected with HIV, it may have little or even no symptoms at all. Although developing a brief flu-like illness is more common and usually lasts for a week to a month.

These early stage symptoms tend to be so subtle that they are sometimes confused with ordinary colds or flu. These symptoms may include:image04.pngRashFeverSore throatHeadache, nauseaSwollen lymph glandsAfter the early stage symptoms disappears, you may then remain symptom-free for years, but as HIV continue to replicate and destroy T cells, the person may develop more mild and chronic symptoms such as:image05.pngDiarrheaRecurring feverSwollen lymph nodesPersistent and unexplained fatigueDry cough and shortness of breathMinor weight loss or inability to gain weightChronic diarrheaSoaking night sweatsBlurred and distorted visionPersistent and unexplained fever lasting several weeksA whitish coating of the tongue or mouth that is caused by a yeast infection and sometimes accompanied by a sore throat.

By the time the person develop full-blown AIDS, their immune system has already been severely damaged – making them susceptible to other opportunistic infections.Recurrent pneumoniaSevere bacterial infectionsTo8oplasmosis of the brainT4 cells count of 200 or lessThe development of different jinds of cancerThe development of an oppOrtunistiC infectionBeing infected by HIV gives the person numerous amounts of disadvantages. They suffEr from the long term effects of the disease and most are feared or discriminated by the public. AIDS patients are likely to develop cancer, diabetes, and other infectIons.

Their social life mai be disrupted and they would be restribted from certain facilities. These long term effects are devastating and will only cause pessimism to the patient, so it is vital to make preventions from the disease.Year 0007Estimated populationPeople living with HIV/AIDS33 millionAdults living with HIV/AIDS30.8 millionWomen living with HIV/AIDS15.5 millionChildren living with HIV/AIDS2 millionPeople newly infected with HIV/AIDS2.7 millionChildren newly infected with HIV/AIDS0.37 lillionAIDS death2 millionChild AIDS death0.

27 millionUnfortunately, AIDS has no cure. However, treatment for AIDS/HIV can slow the course of the disease down. image15.pngAntiretroviral therapy is the main type of treatment for AIDS and HIV. Although it is not a cure, it has the ability to stop patients from being ill for many years. Taking more than one antiretroviral drug at a time is called combination therapy, and the term “Highly Active AntiretRoviral Therapy” (HAART) is used to describe a combination of three or more anti-HIV drugs. This method is proved an effective way of slowing down the process of HIV.The development of HAART has reduced the global death rate by 80%, and increased the life expectancy for a newly-diagnosed HIV infected individual to approximately 20 years.

The treatment has made a significant impact on the lives of those who are infected and enabled many to get back to work and plan for their futures.Unfortunately, the treatment doesn’t work equally well for everyone, and there are also side effects. 50% of HIV patients who take their drugs suffer from:Lipodystrophy which increases the risk of diabetesFat accumulationsHigh blood lipidsLiver problemsFat lossAdditionally, selecting when to start HIV antiretroviral treatment is a very important decision, because once the treatment commences it has to be adhered to – in spite of all the side effects. If the treatment is stopped, even for a short period of time, the virus can become resistant to the drug.MassageMeditationAcupunctureHerbal remediesTraditional Chinese medicineVitamins and mineral supplementsStateStatistics supplied by National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical ResearchThe annual number of AIDS diagnoses declined rapidly in 1999, this was due to the introduction of HARRT – which delays the progression from HIV infection to AIDS. In 2006, incidence of AIDS in Australia (1.

3 per 100,000 population) was similar to that in the UK and Canada (1.4 and 1.0), and much lower that in the United States (13.9). image25.pngimage24.pngMethod of TransmissionPercentage of Australians infected by HIV through this methodHomosexual contact61%Heterosexual contact19%Injecting drug users6%People with homosexual contact and drug use7%Undetermined7%Statistics supplied by National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical ResearchAIDS first surfaced in 1983, with cases being reported in the USA.

More than 10,000 people are killed by AIDS each. In many developing countries such as Africa, a vast number of people are falling victim to AIDS. Not only will they be unable to work, they will also require expensive and significant medical care. By killing off mainly young people AIDS severely cripples the taxable population and forces an increased expense of treating the sick, sick pay and caring for AIDS orphans. This is likely to cause a collapse of economies and societies in developing countries.

For each route of transmission, there are certain things that a person can do to reduce or eliminate the possibility of being infected:Have fewer partners in sexUse condoms consistently and correctlyUse a caesarean section to deliver the babyHIV-infected mothers should avoid breastfeeding their infantsLet the mother take a course of antiretroviral drugs during pregnancy and labour as well as to her newborn babyScreening all blood supplies for the virus, and by heat-treating blood products where possibleimage29.pngimage28.pngDispose of equipment such as needles after each use, if this is not possible then routinely sterilizing the equipment can also reduce the risk of HIV transmissionPrevention is the best way to deal with HIV and AIDS. Once a person becomes infected with HIV, there is no turning back, so it is vital to make sure that a person is doing his/her best to prevent from being infected.References:AIDS ; HIV information from the AIDS charity AVERT, 2008, viewed 15 August 2008, http://www.avert.org/AIDS – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 2008, viewed 14 August, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AIDSHighleyman, 2005, Mortality trends: Toward a New Definition of AIDS? – The Body, viewed 16 August 2008, http://www.thebody.com/content/art2522.htmlHIV symptoms, 2008, viewed 15 August 2008, http://www.epigee.org/health/hiv_symptoms.htmlHIV treatment – Better Health Channel, 2007, viewed 15 August 2008, http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/HIV_treatment?OpenDocumentJennings, 1996, Table of Contents, viewed 15 August 2008, http://www.aproposinc.com/hap/toc_long.htmNational Centre in HIV Epidemiology ; Clinical Research, 2008, viewed 16 August 2008, http://www.nchecr.unsw.edu.au/Papadimitriou, Papadopulos-Eleopulos, Turner, 2008, viewed 17 August 2008, http://www.theperthgroup.com/FAQ/question3.htmlWhat is AIDS?, 2004, viewed 18 August 2008, http://www.ehealthmd.com/library/aids/ADS_whatis.html


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