Question
Sat October 27, 2012 By:
 

what is AIDS? what are the symptoms of AIDS? what are the causes of AIDS? what is the treatment against AIDS?

Expert Reply
Tue October 30, 2012

 

AIDS i.e. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, is the final stage of HIV disease, which causes severe damage to the immune system. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes AIDS. The virus attacks the immune system and leaves the body vulnerable to a variety of life-threatening infections and cancers. Common pathogens that usually do not cause serious disease in people with healthy immune systems can cause fatal illnesses in people with AIDS.

The virus can be spread (transmitted) through sexual contact, through blood transfusions or needle sharing, from infected pregnant mother to child or from a nursing mother to her baby through her breast milk.

HIV infection is not spread by casual contact such as hugging, mosquito bites, participation in sports or touching items that were touched by a person infected with the virus.

Symptoms:

AIDS begins with HIV infection. People who are infected with HIV may have no symptoms for 10 years or longer, but they can still transmit the infection to others during this symptom-free period. If the infection is not detected and treated, the immune system gradually weakens and AIDS develops.

The symptoms of AIDS are mainly the result of infections that do not normally develop in people with a healthy immune system. These are called opportunistic infections. People with AIDS have had their immune system damaged by HIV and are very susceptible to these opportunistic infections. Common symptoms are:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Sweats (particularly at night)
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss

 

Causes:

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes AIDS. The virus attacks the immune system and leaves the body vulnerable to a variety of life-threatening infections and cancers. Common pathogens like bacteria, yeast, parasites, and viruses that usually do not cause serious disease in people with healthy immune systems can cause fatal illnesses in people with AIDS. Blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk have been shown to transmit this infection to others.

 

Treatment:

There is no cure for AIDS at this time. However, a variety of treatments are available that can help keep symptoms at bay and improve the quality and length of life for those who have already developed symptoms.

Antiretroviral therapy suppresses the replication of the HIV virus in the body. A combination of several antiretroviral drugs, called highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), has been very effective in reducing the number of HIV particles in the bloodstream. Preventing the virus from replicating can improve T-cell counts and help the immune system recover from the HIV infection. HAART is not a cure for HIV, but it has been very effective for the past 12 years. Other antiviral medications are being investigated. Medications are also used to prevent opportunistic infections.

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