AIDS the deadliest infection known so far by humanity is one of the leading challenges faced by nations worldwide. Not only it has killed millions of people across the countries but it has doomed the very existence of healthy nations. Do you know where did AIDS come from? How AIDS spreads and what are its symptoms? Do you know when the red ribbon became the symbol of AIDS awareness? This article goes forward on the subject of AIDS and tries to decode the HIV/AIDS in a comprehensive manner.
Full form of AIDS
The full form of AIDS is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and it is caused by HIV infection. It is one of the largest causes of deaths worldwide.
What is AIDS and how it spreads?
AIDS is the final and most severe stage or phase of HIV infection. The people suffering from this infection have very weak and damaged immune systems which cause an increasing number of other infections and illnesses, a situation called opportunistic infections. This situation ultimately causes death. HIV is the short for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus when contacted leads to the immune system deficiency disease called AIDS. Immune system particularly the CD4 Cells (also called the T Cells) are attacked by the HIV. These cells are responsible for fighting off the infections in our body. When HIV becomes successful in destroying too many T Cells, our body becomes inefficient in treating infections and diseases. AIDS is a condition when the number of CD4 Cells falls below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood. HIV/AIDS spreads through bodily fluids such as semen, blood, vaginal fluids, anal fluids, and breast milk. But the most common and historical transmission of AIDS has been reported through unprotected sex, the sharing of drug needles and through births. This virus can’t survive long outside the body. It doesn’t spread through coughing, sneezing, handshake, hugging, or any other such casual contacts. HIV is a retrovirus and cannot replicate on its own.
Common Symptoms of AIDS
- Rapid weight loss
- Recurrent fever
- Chronic fatigue
- Night sweats
- Swollen lymph glands
- Cough and shortness of breath
- Rash and chills
History of AIDS-An Overview
Genetic studies of some of the strains of HIV have indicated that the virus was originated in central and western Africa between 1884 and 1924. The origin of HIV dates back to chimpanzees and Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV), an HIV like a virus which infects apes and monkeys. The HIV is said to have infected humans when hunters in Africa ate infected chimpanzees or chimpanzees’ blood got into the hunter’s blood through cuts or wounds. First transmission of SIV to HIV happened in around 1920 in Kinshasa, the capital city Democratic Republic of Congo. In 1960’s HIV spread from Africa to Haiti and from there it went to New York City in the 1970s. International travel and sex trade helped the virus to spread worldwide. In the 1980s rare types of pneumonia, cancer, and other illnesses were diagnosed by gay people in the USA. In 1981 it was initially named as Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (GRID). But in 1982 due to its cases detected in other men too, the disease was renamed as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). In 1988 the first World AIDS Day was held on December 1st. The Red Ribbon which symbolizes AIDS awareness and compassion for people living with AIDS was adopted in 1991. 90-90-90 a treatment target launched by UNAIDS to be achieved by 2020.
Is there a cure for HIV/AIDS ?
There is no cure for HIV but with proper and sustained medical therapies it can be controlled. The medicine which is currently available to control HIV is known as Antiretroviral Therapy or ART. This medicine has been found very effective in maintaining good health of HIV infected people. It was first made available in 1987. If taken as per medical advice, this ART can ensure healthy and prolonged lives of the infected people. The efficacy of ART is greatly increased if the HIV is detected well before it advances to become AIDS. Today if someone is diagnosed with HIV and is put on Antiretroviral Therapy well before the HIV becomes AIDS, he/she can live a normal and healthy life like someone who doesn’t have contracted the HIV. Without treatment AIDS patients could only have a life expectancy of around 3 years.
Some facts about AIDS
- 36.7 million: According to World Health Organization there are about 36.7 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide. Of these 2.1 million were children.
- 5000 new infections daily: Around 5000 new infections are reported daily worldwide.
- 1.8 million deaths in 2016: About 1.8 million people died due to AIDS related causes in 2016
- 35 million total deaths: In the last 37 years about 35 million people have died due to HIV/AIDS worldwide