HIV/AIDS has had a large impact on society, both as an illness and as a source of discrimination.
What Is HIV/Aids?
Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a series of disorders caused by human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV). An individual may not notice any symptoms after the initial infection or may experience a brief duration of influenza-like illness. This is usually accompanied by a long time without any symptoms. It interferes further with the immune system if the infection progresses, raising the likelihood of developing common infections such as tuberculosis, other opportunistic infections, and tumours that are normally rare in individuals with normal immune function. These late signs of infection are known as the condition of acquired immunodeficiency (AIDS). This stage is often related to unintended weight loss as well.
AIDS was first recognized by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1981 and its cause—HIV infection—was identified in the early part of the decade.
HIV spreads mainly through unprotected intercourse (including anal and oral sex), infected blood transfusions, hypodermic needles, and during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding from mother to infant.
In 2018, about 37.9 million people were living with HIV and it resulted in 770,000 deaths. An estimated 20.6 million of these live in eastern and southern Africa. Between the time that AIDS was identified (in the early 1980s) and 2018, the disease caused an estimated 32 million deaths worldwide. HIV/AIDS is considered a pandemic—a disease outbreak which is present over a large area and is actively spreading.
HIV/AIDS has had a significant effect on society, both as a disease and as a cause of prejudice. There are many myths regarding HIV/AIDS, such as the assumption that it can be spread through casual non-sexual interaction.
Signs and symptoms of HIV & Aids:
There are three main stages of HIV infection: acute infection, clinical latency, and AIDS.
Acute HIV, primary HIV or acute retroviral syndrome are the initial periods after HIV contraction. Many people develop an influenza-like disease or a mononucleosis-like disease 2-4 weeks after exposure, while others have no significant symptoms. Symptoms occur in 40-90% of cases and most commonly include fever, large tender lymph nodes, inflammation of the throat, rash, headaches At this point, some individuals often develop opportunistic infections. There may be gastrointestinal symptoms, like vomiting or diarrhoea. There are also neurological signs of peripheral neuropathy or Guillain-Barré syndrome. The length of symptoms varies, but they usually last one or two weeks.
This second stage in natural HIV history could last without treatment for approximately 3 years to more than 20 years (eight years on average). Although there are typically few or no symptoms at first, there are many people who suffer from fever, weight loss, gastrointestinal problems and muscle age by the end of this stage. Between 50 and 70% of chronic generalised lymphadenopathy often occurs, marked by unexplained, un-painful enlargements for more than three to six months of more than one category of lymph nodes (other than in the groyne).
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
People with AIDS have an increased risk of developing various viral-induced cancers, including Kaposi’s sarcoma, Burkitt’s lymphoma, primary central nervous system lymphoma, and cervical cancer. Kaposi’s sarcoma is the most common cancer, occurring in 10% to 20% of people with HIV. The second-most common cancer is lymphoma, which is the cause of death of nearly 16% of people with AIDS and is the initial sign of AIDS in 3% to 4%. Both these cancers are associated with human herpesvirus 8 (HHV-8). Cervical cancer occurs more frequently in those with AIDS because of its association with human papillomavirus (HPV). Conjunctival cancer (of the layer that lines the inner part of eyelids and the white part of the eye) is also more common in those with HIV.
Additionally, people with AIDS frequently have systemic symptoms such as prolonged fevers, sweats (particularly at night), swollen lymph nodes, chills, weakness, and unintended weight loss. Diarrhoea is another common symptom, present in about 90% of people with AIDS. They can also be affected by diverse psychiatric and neurological symptoms independent of opportunistic infections and cancers.
Is HIV always fatal?
Since it is not possible to get rid of HIV now that someone is infected, it is likely that most people with HIV still will have the virus when they die.
However, it is not always clear if HIV/AIDS is going to cause someone’s death. HIV-infected people are also vulnerable to anything else that can kill someone – other diseases, cancer and injuries – so that people can get HIV and die from something else. Perhaps this is not a cheerful idea, but just a check of fact! HIV is often believed to be a fatal and incurable disease, and can certainly be untreated, particularly once a person’s immune system is so compromised that he or she has AIDS. For anyone with HIV to develop AIDS without treatment it takes an average of 10 years. Some individuals get AIDS much quicker, others get AIDS a lot later.
HIV treatment does not cure HIV, and people with HIV still may experience complications related to HIV treatment and HIV infection. However, the current outlook for people with HIV has improved tremendously and HIV-infected people with access to medicines and medical care can live long healthy lives. A person diagnosed at age 25 who receives good medical care is estimated to live 40 more years.
If you want to know more about how care is made more affordable and available, you can always book an appointment with a Urologist on the TABIIB website or app today.