For the average individual, HIV means AIDS. However, this is not the case. HIV and AIDS are not the same, there is a difference between them, which although it is discreet, is there. That may be the reason why HIV and AIDS go hand in hand. It is important, however, to define these differences. HIV is a virus, a slow virus, which is a subset of viruses called retroviruses or slow viruses that cause AIDS.
Scientific research has shown that AIDS is the last of the four stages of HIV, the first three are: the window stage, the seroconversion stage and the asymptomatic stage, respectively. HIV is called retrovirus because it is a virus that progresses. It invades the body through the mucous membranes and the bloodstream (through blood contact) and is found in body fluids, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-ejaculation or breast milk. Once inside, the virus begins its journey through the body with the attack and destruction of the cells of the immune system thereby causing the deterioration of the immune system. This inevitably leads to AIDS.
HIV is said to have originated in Africa, in nonhuman primates and transferred to humans in the 20th century. There are 2 subtypes; HIV-1, which is a more virulent type and is easily transmitted and is the cause of most HIV infections worldwide and HIV-2, which is less transmissible and largely confined to West Africa. These strains were found in Cameroon and Guinea Bissau / Gabon, respectively.
How HIV is transmitted
There are many ways in which HIV can be transmitted, but the most important are through infected needles (or sharp objects), unsafe sex, breast milk and vertical transmission (also known as mother-to-child transmission).
How HIV is NOT Transmitted
HIV cannot be transmitted through handshakes, hugs, sharing the same cup or spoon with an infected person, or sitting in the same chair.
HIV is a deadly virus that infects the most vital cells of the immune system such as CD4 + T lymphocytes and macrophages. The infection causes a rapid decrease in the number of CD4 + T cells by removal of the cells and causing an increase in the rate of apoptosis (programmed cell death).
When the count of these cells (CD4 + T cells) falls below 200, and two or more opportunistic infections are established, then the individual can be diagnosed as a patient with AIDS.
How should HIV be treated?
Currently, there are a few drugs for the treatment of the virus, which are called antiretroviral drugs or anti-HIV medications.
However, these medications require a total commitment from the patient, and must be taken throughout the life of the individual and at the time indicated, because the virus can develop resistance to these drugs. Serious side effects have also been reported that can now be reduced.
It can take HIV ten years or more to fully become AIDS in the average person. This time interval, however, extends from one individual to another and will depend on the diet of the person.
What are the symptoms that indicate the presence of this deadly virus?
The most effective way to know if an individual has the virus is by testing it. Some people however develop flu-like symptoms, with rashes and swollen glands for a short period of time, but these symptoms do not necessarily represent the presence of HIV. Very often, individuals are asymptomatic and feel healthy, but they can spread the disease to other people. That is why it is important to have the test if you suspect that you had contact with the virus. The test may not be accurate if you have less than three months since the last exposure.
HIV currently has no cure, but it can be prevented. As the saying goes: «Prevention is the best cure»
The best way to prevent HIV infection as recommended by the World Health Organization is ABSTINENCE and practice safe sex. However, the practice of safe sex (latex condoms are effective only around 85% when used correctly).
Being diagnosed with HIV is not the end of the world. You can still have a full, normal, long and happy life even if it is loaded with the virus in tow. The first step is to get tested. A pregnant woman who has tested positive does not necessarily have to pass the virus to her unborn child. Antiretroviral drugs have reduced this risk from 25 percent to 2 percent. There have been cases of people with HIV who have healthy children and a fairly normal life.
Being HIV positive does not make you less than others, it just means that you have a virus that can be treated. People have managed to survive with this disease for more than thirty years with good treatment. The key is timely detection.
HIV is real, and people must be aware of this fact. The earlier we understand that we have to unite and fight against him, the better.
A person can live a normal life with HIV. It is just a virus!