AIDS – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome It is transmitted by exposure to contaminated body fluids, especially blood and semen.This syndrome was first described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1981. AIDS is a serious condition that weakens the body’s immune system, leaving it unable to fight off illness. A positive HIV test does not mean that a person has AIDS. The diseases include a number of unusual and severe infections, cancers and debilitating illnesses, resulting in severe weight loss or wasting away, and diseases affecting the brain and central nervous system.
Causes

The most common mode of transmission is the transfer of sexual secretions through sexual contact. This is accomplished through exposure of mucous membranes of the rectum, vagina, and mouth to blood, semen or vaginal secretions containing HIV. Blood or blood products can transmit the virus, most often through the sharing of contaminated syringes and needles. HIV can be spread during pregnancy from mother to fetus. HIV is not present in sufficient numbers in the blood of ‘infected’ victims to explain the damage done and there is no proper test to unequivocally prove infection with HIV.
Symptoms

People living with HIV may feel and look completely well but their immune systems may nevertheless be damaged. It is important to remember that once someone is infected they can pass on HIV right away, even if they feel healthy.

Some people infected with HIV are asymptomatic (no symptoms) while others may develop symptoms of HIV from two to 15 years after initial infection. The symptoms are as follows:

* extreme fatigue
* rapid weight loss from an unknown cause
* of sickness
* appearance of one or more purple spots on the surface of the skin, inside the mouth, anus or nasal passages
* whitish coating on the tongue, throat or vagina
* forgetfulness, confusion and other signs of mental deterioration
* Excessive sweating especially night sweats
* Mouth lesions including yeast lesions and painful, swollen gums
* Sore throat and cough
* Shortness of breath
* Changes in bowel habits including constipation
* Frequent diarrhea
* Symptoms of a specific opportunistic infection
* Tumor

Treatment

Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) is the recommended treatment for HIV infection. Anti-HIV medications do not cure HIV infection and individuals taking these medications can still transmit HIV to others. How many pills you will need to take and how often you will take them depend on what medications you and your doctor choose?

In general, taking only one or two drugs is not recommended because any decrease in viral load is almost always temporary without three or more drugs. If you are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant, there are additional treatment considerations. Individuals with this condition are advised to seek out experts in their local community who are current with the latest modes of therapy and ongoing clinical trials for evaluating newer therapies.

Combination of several drugs called highly active antiretroviral therapy is used to treat people with HIV. This treatment is not a cure. The virus still persists in various body sites, such as in the lymph glands.