Grand Canyon University- NRS-427V
December 22, 2013
HIV/AIDS (human immunodeficiency virus) is an epidemic that affects people from all over the world. It affects all ages, all races and demographics. HIV attacks cells within the immune system. The body tries to fight the virus but eventually the virus wins. Once infected, the virus weakens the immune system to a degree that the immune system cannot fight against infections. Once you have HIV, you have it for life. There is no cure and can develop into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. If treated appropriately, a person who has HIV does not necessarily have to get AIDS.
The HIV virus is found in human body fluids. The body fluids that have extreme concentrations of the virus are blood, semen, vaginal fluid, breast milk and rectal mucous. HIV is transmitted to another through sexual contact. If your partner has HIV, the virus can enter your body through minute breaks or tears in the linings of the genitalia, rectum, or mouth. Tears are common and can be undetectable. HIV can be spread through open sores if infected body fluids get in them. HIV can be spread to the fetus of a pregnant woman, during the birthing process and to the infant after delivery in the form of ingesting breast milk.
The virus can be spread from injecting illicit drugs. If someone using injectable drugs and is infected, the virus can spread if needles are shared. In this manner the virus is delivered directly into the bloodstream. The spread can be the result of occupational exposure. Healthcare employees have the highest threat for contracting HIV. They can contract the disease in the form of needle sticks, or can be splashed with infected body fluids into the eyes, mouth or through open cuts or scrapes. Finally, the virus can be acquired as a result of a blood transfusion with affected blood or an organ transplant from an affected donor. Vigorous testing make both of these forms of HIV transmission rare in the United States. (How do you get HIV/AIDS, n.d.)
Since the start of the epidemic, nearly 70 million people have been affected with the HIV virus and nearly 35 million people have perished of AIDS. At the end of 2011 there were 34.0 million people were living with HIV globally. A projected 0.8% of adults aged 15-49 years universally are living with HIV, though the epidemic varies significantly between countries and regions. Sub-Saharan Africa persists as the most harshly affected. (Global Health Observatory, n.d.)
The symptoms of HIV and AIDS are similar but do vary depending on the stage of the disease. Symptoms at the initial onset of the infection may carry no symptoms or any signs at all. However, the most common sign or symptom in the beginning of this illness may comprise fever, headache, sore throat, swollen glands and rashes. The flu-like symptoms persist for two to four weeks after being affected and typically vanish on their own. After the first symptoms vanish, HIV then can becomes asymptomatic and could possible remain this way for up to 10 years.
Even though no symptoms are present, the virus will continue to cause damage to the immune system. The length of this asymptomatic or symptom free phase vary from individual depending only on how fast the virus multiplies in the immune system. After being symptom free for eight or nine years you may develop mild infections or chronic symptoms.
The final stages of HIV are referred to as full blown AIDS. By this stage, the immune system is extremely impaired. The signs and symptoms may comprise: soaking night sweats, fever of 100 F for several weeks, dry cough and difficulty breathing, chronic diarrhea, white spots or strange sores on your tongue or in your mouth, blurred or distorted vision. (HIV Basics, n.d.)
Since HIV damages the immune system, it causes an affected person extremely predisposed to various opportunistic diseases, cancers, and viruses that seize the benefit of a debilitated…