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Human Immunodeficiency Virus Essay

1952 words - 8 pages

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a disease that only infects humans, weakens the immune system, and like other viruses, reproduces itself by taking over cells within the body of its host. HIV is similar to other viruses such as those that cause the common cold or flu. The difference is that with most viruses, the body’s natural immune system is able to rid the body of it. With HIV, the body’s immune system cannot clear the virus and the reason behind this is still trying to be figured out by scientists (AIDS.gov, 2014). Scientists believe that the source of HIV came from a certain type of chimpanzee in Western Africa and was transmitted to humans when these infected animals were ...view middle of the document...

Signs and symptoms of HIV infection can vary from person to person and is dependent on the stage of the disease. In the early stage a person may experience flu-like symptoms such as, fever, sore throat, swollen glands, fatigue, aches and pains, headache, or rash. These symptoms are referred to as acute retroviral syndrome (ARS) and can last for as little as a few days or as long as several weeks. It is important to understand that a person cannot rely on symptoms such as these to know if they have been infected with HIV and that many people who are infected show no symptoms for 10 or more years. The only way to know for sure if you’ve been infected with this disease is to get a blood test (AIDS.gov, 2014).
The clinical latency stage comes after the early stages of the HIV infection. Typically in this stage, the infected individual is asymptomatic and shows no HIV-related symptoms. During this stage the HIV virus, although still active, is reproducing a lower levels. Without treatment, HIV will eventually weaken the body’s immune system and the onset of symptoms such as, rapid weight loss, fever, night sweats, extreme tiredness, prolonged swelling of lymph glands, diarrhea, sores, pneumonia, lesions on the skin, and neurological disorders such as memory loss or depression will occur. When these types of symptoms occur, this signals the onset of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Many of these symptoms stem from opportunistic infections secondary to the body’s weakened immune system and complications with this disease occurs because the body’s natural immune system is no longer strong enough to fight infections a healthy immune system could typically fight (AIDS.gov, 2014).
HIV is a non-curable disease. Although scientists are working hard to find a cure, there is no safe and effective cure that currently exists. With the proper antiretroviral treatment (ART), HIV can be controlled. These treatments will not cure an infected individual, but it will dramatically prolong the person’s life and decrease the chances of infecting other individuals. Today, with early diagnosis and treatment, an HIV infected person can live a pretty normal life expectancy (AIDS.gov, 2014). Currently there are about 30 different drugs approved to treat HIV/AIDS, and there are more being developed. The regimen taken is usually three different antiretroviral drugs and this is important because, as stated earlier, there is no drug that can cure this disease. Studies have shown that taking three different medications will best control the amount of virus spreading in the body and in turn, protecting your immune system (AIDS.gov, 2014).
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States an estimated 49,273 people were diagnosed with the HIV infection in 2011. This broke down to 38,825 adolescent and adult males, 10,257 adolescent and adult females, and an estimated 192 children less than 13 years of age were...

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