HIV

     STD ” HIV ” 

     AIDS

Overview
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to fight the organisms that cause disease.
HIV is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It can also be spread by contact with infected blood or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast-feeding. Without medication, it may take years before HIV weakens your immune system to the point that you have AIDS.
There’s no cure for HIV/AIDS, but there are medications that can dramatically slow the progression of the disease. These drugs have reduced AIDS deaths in many developed nations.
Symptomatic HIV infection
As the virus continues to multiply and destroy your immune cells — the cells in your body that help fight off germs — you may develop mild infections or chronic signs and symptoms such as:
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes — often one of the first signs of HIV infection
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Oral yeast infection (thrush)
  • Shingles (herpes zoster)
  • Shingles (herpes zoster)
Progression to AIDS
Thanks to better antiviral treatments, most people with HIV in the U.S. today don’t develop AIDS. Untreated, HIV typically turns into AIDS in about 10 years.
When AIDS occurs, your immune system has been severely damaged. You’ll be more likely to develop opportunistic infections or opportunistic cancers — diseases that wouldn’t usually trouble a person with a healthy immune system.
The signs and symptoms of some of these infections may include:
  • Soaking night sweats
  • Recurring fever
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Persistent white spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth
  • Persistent, unexplained fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Skin rashes or bumps
Causes
HIV is caused by a virus. It can spread through sexual contact or blood, or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast-feeding.
How does HIV become AIDS?
HIV destroys CD4 T cells — white blood cells that play a large role in helping your body fight disease. The fewer CD4 T cells you have, the weaker your immune system becomes.
You can have an HIV infection for years before it turns into AIDS. AIDS is diagnosed when the CD4 T cell count falls below 200 or you have an AIDS-defining complication.
How HIV spreads
To become infected with HIV, infected blood, semen or vaginal secretions must enter your body. This can happen in several ways:
  • 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. Sharing contaminated intravenous drug paraphernalia (needles and syringes) 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 pass the virus on to their babies. HIV-positive mothers who get treatment for the infection during pregnancy can significantly lower the risk to their babies.
How HIV doesn’t spread
You can’t become infected with HIV through ordinary contact. That means you can’t catch HIV or AIDS by hugging, kissing, dancing or shaking hands with someone who has the infection.
HIV isn’t spread through the air, water or insect bites.
Risk factors
When HIV/AIDS first appeared in the United States, it mainly affected men who had sex with men. However, now it’s clear that HIV also spreads through heterosexual sex.
Anyone of any age, race, sex or sexual orientation can be infected. However, you’re at greatest risk of HIV/AIDS if you:
  • Have unprotected sex. Use a new latex or polyurethane condom every time you have sex. Anal sex is more risky than is vaginal sex. Your risk of HIV increases if you have multiple sexual partners.
  • Have an STI. Many STIs produce open sores on your genitals. These sores act as doorways for HIV to enter your body.
  • Use intravenous drugs. People who use intravenous drugs often share needles and syringes. This exposes them to droplets of other people’s blood.
  • Are an uncircumcised man. Studies suggest that lack of circumcision increases the risk of heterosexual transmission of HIV.
Cancers common to HIV/AIDS
  • Kaposi’s sarcoma. A tumor of the blood vessel walls, this cancer is rare in people not infected with HIV, but common in HIV-positive people. It usually appears as pink, red or purple lesions on the skin and mouth. In people with darker skin, the lesions may look dark brown or black. Kaposi’s sarcoma can also affect the internal organs, including the digestive tract and lungs.
  • Lymphoma. This cancer starts in the white blood cells. The most common early sign is painless swelling of the lymph nodes in your neck, armpit or groin.