Mon November 28, 2011 By: Mahalakshmi Raghavan

about aids

Expert Reply
Sun December 04, 2011
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a disease of the human immune system caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The illness interferes with the immune system making people with AIDS much more likely to get infections. This susceptibility gets worse as the disease continues. Common 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.

The virus can be spread (transmitted):

  • Through sexual contact with an infected person

  • Through blood -- via blood transfusions or needle sharing
  • From mother to child -- a pregnant woman can transmit the virus to her fetus through their shared blood circulation, or a nursing mother can transmit it to her baby in her breast milk

Other methods of spreading the virus are rare and include accidental needle injury and organ transplantation with infected organs.

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.

Almost all people infected with HIV, if they are not treated, will develop AIDS. 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, sweats (particularly at night), swollen lymph glands, weakness, weight loss

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 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.


  1. Practicing safe sexual behaviour

  2. Avoiding use of illicit drugs and sharing needles or syringes.
  3. Avoiding contact with another person's blood. You may need to wear protective clothing, masks, and goggles when caring for people who are injured.)
  4. Anyone who tests positive for HIV can pass the disease to others and should not donate blood, plasma, body organs, or sperm.
  5. HIV-positive women who wish to become pregnant should seek counseling about the risk to their unborn child, and methods to help prevent their baby from becoming infected.
  7. The Public Health Service recommends that HIV-infected women avoid breast-feeding to prevent transmitting HIV to their infants through breast milk.


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