HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.
AIDS is a disease identified roughly 28 years ago and within this small period of time, it has spread all over the world at a very rapid rate killing over 25 million people till date.
HIV is the causative microbes for AIDS, which is a retrovirus and has RNA as the genetic material. The HIV infection spreads through the following ways:
- Unprotected sexual interaction with an already infected person.
- Reusing needles which are already used by an infected person.
- From an infected mother to the baby through the placenta.
- Blood transfusion from an infected person.
Mode of Infection
The HIV infects the macrophages in the blood. Once they infect, the viral RNA enters the host cell and produces DNA with the help of reverse transcription. This viral DNA then integrates into the host genome and as a produces multiple RNA copies by the process of transcription. These RNAs then form multiple copies of the virus and continue the infection in the same way.
At the same time, HIV also enters the helper T lymphocytes and continues the same set of events as it does in macrophages. This leads to decrease in the number of helper T lymphocytes. Thus, the immunity of the body is considerably compensated. The immunity is lowered to such an extent that the infected person suffers from even minor infections which is one of the AIDS symptoms. Other symptoms include bouts of fever, diarrhea and weight loss.
Prevention of AIDS
HIV infection can be detected with the help of a test called ELISA which stands for ‘Enzyme Linked Immuno Sorbent Assay’. AIDS is incurable; thus, HIV prevention is the wisest option. As we have already discussed causes of AIDS, the prevention can be deduced from them.
For example – Using disposable needles, practicing safe sex, i.e., use of protection like condoms, regular health checkups and monitoring blood transfusion and pregnancy.
Another important factor is the awareness about AIDS. As it does not spread by mere physical contact, the infected persons should not be discriminated and must be treated in a friendly manner.
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