AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome: AIDS is caused by a virus called HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. If you get infected with HIV, your body will try to fight the infection. It will make "antibodies," special molecules to fight HIV. Many people are HIV-positive but don't get sick for many years. As HIV disease continues, it slowly wears down the immune system. Viruses, parasites, fungi and bacteria that usually don't cause any problems can make you very sick if your immune system is damaged. The virus, which is transmitted from one individual to another through the exchange of body fluids (such as blood or semen), attacks white blood cells, thereby causing the body to lose its capacity to ward off infection. As a result, many AIDS patients die of opportunistic infections that strike their debilitated bodies.
Symptoms of AIDS
Depression is one of the first symptoms of Aids, and of course, can be mistaken for the regular blahs or a temporary mood. However, depression is more profound than sadness and includes lethargy and a lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyable.
Diarrhea thrush or a bad taste in one's mouth and a white coating on the tongue or the gums, these problems occur because the body is no longer able to fight off minor infections and the patient is more vulnerable to microbes.
Rapid weight loss and lip dystrophy are symptoms of aids that affect the proper distribution of body fats. One's arms may be bony while there may be buildups of fat on the stomach or behind the neck. This happens because the HIV virus attacks the mitochondria, or the cells which digest fats.
Patients with AIDS have had their immune system depleted by HIV and are very susceptible to such opportunistic infections. Common symptoms are fevers, sweats (particularly at night), swollen glands, chills, weakness, and weight loss.
The symptoms of AIDS are primarily the result of infections that do not normally develop in individuals with healthy immune systems. These are called opportunistic infections.
Respiratory Symptoms - Some of the most serious symptoms of HIV involve the respiratory system. Symptoms associated with breathing and respiration usually occur later in course of the disease. Unfortunately, many people's first symptom of HIV involves the respiratory system, illustrating why HIV testing is so important. Any cough or shortness of breath could be a sign of bacterial pneumonia or pneumocystis.
Treatment of AIDS
Antiretroviral treatment for HIV infection consists of drugs which work against HIV infection itself by slowing down the replication of HIV in the body. For antiretroviral treatment to be effective for a long time, it has been found that you need to take more than one antiretroviral drug at a time. This is what is known as Combination Therapy. The term Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) is used to describe a combination of three or more anti-HIV drugs. This has been highly beneficial to many HIV-infected individuals since its introduction in 1996 when the protease inhibitor-based HAART initially became available. Current optimal HAART options consist of combinations (or "cocktails") consisting of at least three drugs belonging to at least two types, or "classes," of antiretroviral agents.
Prevention are based on avoiding exposure to the virus or, failing that, an antiretroviral treatment directly after a highly significant exposure, called post-exposure prophylaxis PEP has a very demanding four week schedule of dosage. It also has very unpleasant side effects including diarrhea, malaise, nausea and fatigue.