“AIDS” denotes “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome”. It is a serious condition that weakens the body’s immune system, disabling ‘fighting diseases’. The diseases include a number of unusual and severe infections, cancers and debilitating illnesses, affecting the brain and central nervous system. AIDS is the last stage in a progression of diseases resulting from a viral infection known as the “Human Immunodeficiency Virus”. (HIV).

At present, there is neither a cure for HIV / AIDS infection, nor a vaccine to prevent it. However, there are new medicines which slow down the progression of the infection and reduce the seriousness of HIV.

The HIV virus cannot be destroyed and lives in the body undetected for months or years before any sign of illness appears. AIDS is not simply contagious like other common contagious diseases. We will not get AIDS / HIV by touching someone already having them or sharing items used by them such as cups, plates, pens, etc., or through coughing and sneezing. Also, HIV will not spread through routine contact in restaurants, workplaces or schools. Mainly Blood or blood products transmit the virus. The most common mode of transmission is the transfer of sexual secretions through sexual contact, and through the sharing of contaminated syringes and needles, used for taking out blood from or for injecting medicines into, the human body , and HIV will be spread during pregnancy from mother to fetus, if mother is having it.

Some of the symptoms of HIV include loss of appetite, unusual weight loss, continuous fever, night sweats, skin rashes, diarrhea, tiredness, swollen lymph nodes extreme fatigue , dry cough, not due to allergies or smoking, one or more purple spots on the surface of the skin, inside the mouth, or nasal passages, whitish coating on the tongue. Some people infected with HIV will have no symptoms, while others may develop symptoms of HIV from 2 to 15 years after initial infection.

We have to note that not everyone who has been infected with HIV develops AIDS. However, these people may develop some of the symptoms related to AIDS. Screening for HIV infection is most commonly done by testing blood for HIV antibodies. The Orasure test,a recent one, involves collecting secretions between the cheek and gum and evaluating them for HIV antibodies. Orasure is essentially as accurate as a blood test, and, because it does not involve use of a needle stick, it is favored by many individuals. Also, there is a new urine test available for HIV screening, although the test is positive,it is only an indication and blood tests need to be performed for confirmation of the presence of HIV.

Anti-HIV medicines are used to control the reproduction of the virus and to slow the progression of HIV-related diseases. Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) is the recommended treatment for HIV infection. HAART combines three or more anti-HIV medicines. Anti-HIV medicines do not cure HIV infection and individuals taking these medicines can still transmit HIV to others.

The treatment of HIV infection and AIDS is in a highly dynamic state. Individuals with this condition may be 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.

The only way to prevent sexually transmitted HIV/AIDS is to abstain from sex outside marriage, and to avoid illegal relations and sexual contacts with anyone who has had sex with people having HIV/AIDS or at the risk of getting AIDS, and avoiding sex with anyone who has multiple / anonymous sexual partners.

Also, even sharing of toothbrushes, razors or other implements that could become contaminated with the blood of anyone who is or might be infected with the AIDS virus must be avoided, to be on the safer side. We must be cautious regarding procedures, such as acupuncture, tattooing, ear piercing, etc., in which needles or other non sterile instruments may be used repeatedly to pierce the skin and/or membranes. Such procedures are 100% safe only if proper sterilization methods are employed or disposable needles are used, in spite of the fact that the HIV virus cannot survive for more than 30 seconds on exposure to air.

Getting Aids is like meeting with accident and anybody may get it inspite of taking the necessary precautions.

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