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May 10, 2011

HIV and AIDS

What are HIV and AIDS?
1. HIV means Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
2. AIDS means Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome.
3. HIV is a virus that causes AIDS.
4. HIV attacks lymphocytes (white blood corpuscles). As a result the body has difficulty fighting off certain bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microbes.
5. AIDS is a state in which a person’s immunity to fight against diseases is completely destroyed. Then he/she is affected by severe infections.

How does one get HIV?
HIV is transmitted from an infected person to an uninfected person through body fluids like blood, semen, vaginal fluid, amniotic fluid, breast milk etc. The most common ways of HIV transmission are,
1. unprotected sexual intercourse with an HIV infected person,
2. sharing needles with an HIV infected injection drug user,
3. infected blood during blood transfusion,
4. from mothers to babies before birth, during pregnancy or after birth through breast feeding,
5. organ transplant from an affected person to a healthy person.

How does one NOT get HIV?
HIV does not spread through,
1. air, food, water, mosquito bite etc.,
2. using same utensils as used by an HIV/AIDS infected person,
3. having social relations with the HIV/AIDS infected person,
4. kissing, hugging, shaking hands, sneezing or coughing,
5. using same computer/telephone used by an HIV/AIDS infected person,
6. working with an HIV/AIDS infected person.

How long does it take for HIV to develop into AIDS?
The time taken for HIV to develop into AIDS varies greatly from person to person.
About 50 per cent of HIV infected persons develop AIDS within 10 years after becoming infected.
How can you avoid contracting HIV infection?
You can prevent HIV infection by,
1. avoiding multiple sex partners, not having unprotected sex, always use condom,
2. screening of blood before transfusion,
3. not sharing injection needles and instruments for tattoo piercing and razor blades,
4. avoiding pregnancy if the mother is HIV positive,
5. educating people.

What are the symptoms of HIV/AIDS infection?
The general symptoms of HIV infection include,
1. more than 10 per cent reduction in body weight in a short period of time,
2. continuous fever for more than one month,
3. chronic diarrhea, persistent dry cough, oral rash and shortness of breath,
4. swelling in lymph nodes,
5. visual disturbance and vomiting,
6. skin blotches, eczema, fungal infection and sometime skin cancer,
7. damaged nervous system and brain leading to loss of memory and thinking power.

Does the presence of sexually transmitted diseases facilitate HIV infection?
Since Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) damage the skin and mucus layer of the genital region, the risk of getting infection from infected partner is high.
Treatment of STD reduces the risk of contracting HIV.
How are TB and HIV interrelated?
HIV and TB are closely interrelated. Active TB is the most common disease among the persons living with HIV/AIDS.

How can the HIV infection be diagnosed?
The HIV infection can be diagnosed by laboratory testing of the blood for antibodies against the virus. This test is available in many hospitals in most cities in India.

Is there a vaccine available for HIV?
There is no vaccine available for treatment of HIV as yet.

Is there a cure for HIV/AIDS?
There is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS. In many countries improved medical treatments are now available.

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