On the occasion of the world's AIDS day which is celebrated on the first of December every year, here is a small piece of information on the origin of AIDS.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The virus attacks the immune system and leaves the body vulnerable to a variety of life threatening infections and cancers. The illness interferes with the immune system making people with AIDS much more likely to get infections, including opportunistic infections and tumors that usually do not affect people with working immune systems. This susceptibility gets worse as the disease continues. It causes severe damage to the immune system.
Acute HIV infection progresses over time to AIDS.
They have 3 stages:
1. Asymptomatic HIV infection (no symptoms)
2. Early symptomatic HIV infection.
Almost all people infected with HIV, if they are not treated, will develop AIDS. There is a small group of patients who develop AIDS very slowly, or never at all. These patients are called non progressors, and many seem to have a genetic difference that prevents the virus from significantly damaging their immune system.
Opportunistic infections are common in people with AIDS. These infections affect nearly every organ system. People with AIDS also have an increased risk of developing various cancers such as Kaposi's sarcoma (cancerous tumor of the connective tissue), cervical cancer and cancers of the immune system known as lymphomas. Additionally, people with AIDS often have systemic symptoms of infection like fevers, sweats (particularly at night), swollen glands, chills, weakness, and severe weight loss.
The virus can be transmitted through:
1. Sexual contact including oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
2. Blood via blood transfusions or needle sharing.
3. From mother to child - a pregnant woman can transmit the virus to her baby through her shared blood circulation, or a nursing mother can transmit it to her baby through her breast milk.
4. Other methods of spreading the virus are rare and include accidental needle injury, artificial insemination with infected donated semen, and organ transplantation with infected organs.