Definition- AIDS is a chronic life threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. It is a sexually transmitted infection; it can also be spread by contact with infected blood and from mother to child due to breastfeeding. It takes many years for HIV to weaken your system to the point that you have AIDS. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS but there are many medications that can slow down the progression of the disease.
How it is transmitted: HIV/AIDS is transmitted sexually, through contact with infected blood, or from breastfeeding (mother to child). It is common among those who use intravenous drugs.
Signs and Symptoms: It takes a while for any signs and symptoms to show up, but a flu-like illness is likely to come up within the first or second month of contracting this infection. Some symptoms of the primary infection include:
Mouth or genital ulcers
Swollen lymph glands, mainly on the neck
There is then the clinical latent infection stage, this can last anywhere from eight to ten years. There are no signs and symptoms during this time period.
Early symptoms of the infection:
Swollen lymph nodes-often the first sign of the infection
Coughing and shortness of breath
Progression to AIDS:
If you do not receive any treatment during this time period, your progression to AIDS will be happening in about ten years. By the time you have AIDS, your immune system is severely damaged. The common cold or a small sickness will effect you more than the average person because the lack of strength in the immune system. The signs and symptoms of AIDS are:
Soaking night sweats
Fevers higher than 100 degree (F)
Cough and shortness of breath
Persistent white spots or legions in your mouth or on your tongue
Persistent, unexplained fatigue
Blurred distorted vision
Skin rashes or bumps
Most commonly, HIV is detected through the blood or saliva by testing for the presence of antibodies. Unfortunately, these kinds of tests aren’t as accurate as they can be because most of the symptoms cannot be detected until later. Some tests to determine your severity of the disease are:
CD4 count: CD4 cells are white blood cells that is specifically targeted and destroyed by HIV cells. The count can vary in a healthy person can vary from 500 to 1,000 cells. In a person with no symptoms the count can be as low as 200.
Viral load: This test measures the amount of virus