HIV/AIDS: An Overview
AIDS was first reported in the United States in 1981, almost 30 years ago, and 21 years ago HIV was first recognized. However, many people are still confused about the differences between AIDS and HIV. These two illnesses are different in many ways and very similar in one very unique way. In this short essay my goal is to clarify the confusion on the differences between HIV and AIDS and explain how they are related.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The human immune system usually fights and kills viruses that attack the body. HIV actually attacks the immune system making it virtually impossible to fight and kill the cells that have invaded the body. ...view middle of the document...
There are few symptoms associated with the onset HIV infection and some people will develop symptoms shortly after being infected. In others, it can take up to 10 years or more for symptoms to develop. First symptoms may include swollen glands in the throat, underarm, or groin. Other symptoms include slight fever, headaches, fatigue, and muscle aches. These symptoms may last only a few weeks and then subside leaving the infected person to believe these symptoms were a result of the common cold or flu. This is why it can be very hard to detect if a person has been infected with HIV.
HIV is treated with antiretroviral medications. These medications keep the levels of HIV in the body at a low level, so that the immune system can recover and work effectively (Avert, 2010). Antiretroviral medications can help HIV patients live longer healthier lives. There are more than 20 antiretroviral drugs and they all have severe side effects, however, there are ways to reduce the severity of these side effects. Taking these medications requires discipline and commitment as they will have to be taken every day for the rest of the infected person’s life. Not following doctor’s orders on the medication can result in drug resistance and can put that person’s life at further risks. Currently there is no cure for HIV and vaccinations are still being studied in trials.
Clinical vaccine trails are currently trying to find a preventative vaccine as well as a therapeutic vaccine. Preventative vaccines will be given to people who have not developed HIV. Therapeutic vaccines will be given to people who are already infected and will help improve their immune systems. The CDC is conducting a trail with the medication, Tenofovir, as an HIV preventative. Currently it is only used in HIV+ persons, but this trail is designed to test the drugs preventable benefits (Lifebeat, 2010). Another trail being researched is the use of Microbicides that would work like a spermicide and would kill HIV instead of sperm by blocking the attachment of HIV to susceptible cells.
HIV slowly, over years or even decades, weakens the immune system until AIDS, or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, develop. AIDS is the most advanced stages of HIV. In 1984, scientists identified HIV as the cause of AIDS (Avert, 2010). To be diagnosed with AIDS a person must first have tested HIV+, meaning antibodies for HIV are found in the bloodstream. Second, the CD4+ T cell count must be lower than 200. When a person has AIDS, his or her body has been weakened to the point in which it is no longer able to fight disease effectively. As a result, many other health problems develop.
HIV becomes AIDS when infections become severe and difficult to manage. There are many symptoms of AIDS. The following are examples of the symptoms.
• Thrush is a thick white coating in the mouth and on the tongue caused by a yeast infection, this sometimes results in a sore throat
• Severe and recurring vaginal yeast...