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INFORMATION ABOUT HIV & AIDS
Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV is a retrovirus which leads to the dreaded disease AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). AIDS is one of the deadliest diseases in this world which has no proper medical cure as such and it ultimately leads to death.
How HIV works?
The HIV attacks the immune system in a person’s body and causes AIDS. In an AIDS patient, the immune system stops working and the person ultimately die due to some kind of secondary infection or diseases such as influenza and diarrhea. The AIDS virus primarily infects the host’s CD4+ T lymphocytes, helper T cells, dendritic cells as well as macrophages and kills the target cells either by initiating apoptosis or programmed cell death, directly destroying the infected cells or allowing the CD8 cytotoxic lymphocytes which can identify the infected CD4+ T cells and kill them. Now, CD4+ T cells regulate the cell-mediated immunity so destruction of these cells results in total breakdown of the immune system resulting in AIDS.
How is HIV transmitted?
HIV is present in blood, semen, pre-ejaculate, vaginal fluid as well as breast milk. There are four main routes of transmission of this dreaded retrovirus which are: -
- Unprotected sexual intercourse
- Contaminated syringe and needles
- Transmission of the virus from infected mother to the baby either through placenta or breast milk
- Contaminated blood transfusion
Are there any preventive measures against transmission of HIV?
Although there is no proper medical treatment to combat HIV, however, it transmission can surely be prevented by taking a few measures which include: –
- Use of condoms and other forms of protection during sexual intercourse with an unknown person
- Prevention of polygamy and avoiding brothels and pros quarters
- Proper disposal of syringe and needles which have been already used
- Undergoing an HIV test before marriage and during pregnancy
The incubation period of HIV can extend for up to 10 years as a result of which a person can even die a normal death even before getting to know about that disease. There is no vaccine or medicine discovered till now which can cure the disease but research is still going on and presently highly active antiretroviral therapy is used as the only treatment against AIDS.