AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a syndrome caused by the HIV virus. In this condition, a person’s immune system becomes too weak to fight off any kind of infection or disease. AIDS is usually the last stage of HIV infection; a stage where the body can no longer defend itself and thus spawns various diseases. AIDS, when untreated, leads to death.
AIDS is advanced HIV infection or late-stage HIV. Someone with AIDS may develop a wide range of health conditions like – pneumonia, thrush, fungal infections, TB, toxoplasmosis and cytomegalovirus.
There is also an increased risk of developing medical illness like cancer and brain illnesses. CD4 count refers to the number of T-helper cells in a cubic millilitre of blood. A person may referred as AIDS affected, when CD4 count drops below 200 cells per cubic millilitre of blood.
What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and as the name suggests, it is a lentivirus, a subgroup of retrovirus, which leads to HIV infection and gradually causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
This virus, slowly but surely, attacks the immune system. Immune system is human body’s natural phenomena of defence mechanism, hence if a body is affected by HIV, the body finds it harder to fight off infections and diseases.
HIV demolishes a particular type of WBC (White Blood Cells) and the T-helper cells. This virus also makes copies of itself inside these cells. T-helper cells are also known as CD4 cells.
Types of HIV
There are many different strains of HIV. The two main types are –
1) HIV-1: The most common type of virus found worldwide.
- Group M – M stands for ‘Major’, which implies that 90% of HIV AIDS all over world are caused by this group of HIV. There are 11 sub-types (A to K) of viruses found in this group.
- Group N – ‘N’ stands for “non-M, non-O”. As per the data found till 2006, only 10 Group N infections had been identified.
- Group O – O implies ‘Outlier’ group of HIV. This virus is not usually seen outside of West-central Africa.
- Group P – This type of virus is recently diagnosed in 2009. There’s only one case of group-P virus is found till now.
2) HIV-2: This is found primarily in Western Africa, with some cases in India and Europe. There are 8 known HIV-2 groups (A to H). HIV-2 is closely related to simian immunodeficiency virus endemic in a monkey species (sooty mangabeys).
Symptoms of AIDS
As AIDS is a virus infection, the symptoms related to acute HIV infection can be similar to flu or other viral illnesses, like –
- Muscle & Joint pains
- Sore throat
- Night sweats
- Red rashes
- Mouth sores
- Swollen lymph glands
- Weight Loss
Symptoms of late-stage HIV infection may include –
- Blurred vision
- Persistent or Chronic Diarrhea
- Dry cough
- Fever of above 37 degrees Centigrade (100 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Night sweats
- Permanent tiredness
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen glands lasting for weeks
- Weight loss
- White spots on the tongue or mouth
Cure for AIDS
There no specific or perfect cure treatment for HIV AIDS but with proper diagnosis, treatment and support, one can fight with it and life a healthy and happy life. One needs to take treatment correctly and deal with any possible side-effects.
Medicines are used to stop the virus from multiplying. One major treatment for HIV/AIDS is called antiretroviral therapy (ART).
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