Human immune deficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS)
CAUSES OF AIDS
• HIV is a viral infection that can be transmitted through sexual contact, through blood or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast-feeding.
• By having sex. You may become infected if you have vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected partner whose blood, semen or vaginal secretions enter your body. The virus can enter your body through mouth sores or small tears that sometimes develop in the rectum or vagina during sexual activity.
• From blood transfusions. In some cases, the virus may be transmitted through blood transfusions. American hospitals and blood banks now screen the blood supply for HIV antibodies, so this risk is very small.
• By sharing needles. HIV can be transmitted through needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood. Sharing intravenous drug paraphernalia puts you at high risk of HIV and other infectious diseases, such as hepatitis.
• During pregnancy or delivery or through breast-feeding. Infected mothers can infect their babies. But by receiving treatment for HIV infection during pregnancy, mothers significantly lower the risk to their babies.
SIGN AND SYMPTOMS
• Swollen glands
• Sore throat
• Night sweats
• Muscle aches
• Extreme tiredness
Viral Load Test
Doctors usually recommend medicine for patients who are committed to taking all their medications and have a CD4 count below 500 cells/mm3 (which is a sign that of a weakened immune system). Some people, including pregnant women and people with kidney or neurological problems related to HIV, may need treatment regardless of their CD4 count.
It is extremely important for people with HIV to take all doses of their medications, otherwise the virus may become resistant to the drugs. Therapy always involves a combination of antiviral drugs. Pregnant women with HIV infection are treated to reduce the chance of transmitting HIV to their babies.
People with HIV infection need to become educated about the disease and treatment so that they can be active participants in making decisions with their health care provider.