HIV/AIDS: An Overview
Axia College of University of Phoenix
July 12, 2009
There is an epidemic that is sweeping the world today and no one is immune to its devastating outcome. This epidemic knows no boundaries. Age, gender, ethnic background, race or religion does not play a role in how this epidemic affects people. This epidemic is known as HIV slash AIDS.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) are two different diseases. When a person gets HIV there are four stages in which the disease progresses. According to essortment (2002),
The period following infection is called the window. [This period] is called this ...view middle of the document...
The six ways are; unprotected sex, getting infected blood into the mucous system, using dirty needles or by way of a needle stick, blood transfusions, during birth and during breast feeding. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2007), “Some people fear that HIV might be transmitted in other ways; however, no scientific evidence to support any of these fears has been found” (para. 2). HIV is a slow acting virus and can take years after a person is infected before a person starts to show symptoms. This makes this disease dangerous because a person may not be aware that he or she is infected. Once a person is infected, there is a high chance that the disease will progress into the final stage of AIDS.
When a person is first infected with the HIV virus, the body starts to fight the invading cells which can cause flu-like symptoms. The bodies CD4 cells, also known as T-helper cells, begin to be destroyed. These cells are very important for the body’s immune system to function properly. Without these cells, the body is unable to fight off infections and disease. According to AIDS.org (2007), “HIV disease becomes AIDS when your immune system is seriously damaged. If you have less than 200 CD4 cells or if your CD4 percentage is less than 14%, you have AIDS” (para. 4). When the body’s CD4 cells become low enough for the person with HIV to become an AIDS patient, the body’s immune system is unable to perform its job. An AIDS patient will be more susceptible to infections and in some cases the patients own body will attack itself. Although there is no cure for this horrible disease, a person with AIDS does have some treatment options.
The main treatment that people infected with the HIV slash AIDS virus undergo is an antiretroviral drug treatment. While this treatment will not cure HIV or AIDS, it can help keep the patient from becoming ill. While on this type of treatment, the patient will have to take more than one type of antiretroviral drug. This is called combination therapy. The reason for this is because the virus can become resistant to just one drug and that drug would no longer work. Even with combination therapy the virus can still become resistant and new medications would need to be started. The way to tell if a treatment plan is not working is by getting a blood test. The blood test will tell the doctor how high the patient’s viral load is. If the viral load is high, then new antiretroviral drugs will need to be administered. Another treatment that most infected people will have to undergo is pain management.
According to Avert (2009), “Pain is a major issue for people living with HIV and AIDS. Pain can result from the virus itself, various forms of treatment, opportunistic infections and cancers” (para. 1). Depending on what is causing the pain determines the treatment options. If the antiretroviral drugs are the cause, a doctor may change the patient’s drug therapy. If the virus itself is causing the pain, a...