AIDS HIV

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a condition in which there is a serious defect in the immune system, the body's natural defense against disease. This increases susceptibility to opportunistic infections, cancer, nerve disorders, and a variety of other syndromes. Since it was first described in 1981, AIDS has been the cause of much fear and controversy. It is now known to occur as a result of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that some 30 million people worldwide are infected with HIV. More than 90 per cent of these are in developing countries and most do not know that they are infected. In 1997 alone, there were over 2.3 million deaths from the disorder.

AIDS HIVAIDS HIV infection

HIV was first isolated in the laboratory in 1983, and shown to be the likely cause of AIDS in 1984. The virus is transmitted through certain body fluids including blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk. It is not transmitted by air, saliva, tears or sweat so there is no danger of infection with casual contact.

After HTV enters the body, it becomes incorporated into the genetic material of the body cells and affects the production of a number of different cells of the immune and nervous systems. This eventually reduces the ability of the immune system to fight bacterial, viral and fungal infections, and detect cancerous changes in cells. Nervous system function may also be affected.

Prevention of AIDS HIV infection

Large scale public awareness campaigns have been conducted to inform people about the prevention of HIV infection, particularly those in high risk groups. Higher rates of HIV infection were originally seen in homosexual or bisexual men who had many sex partners, intravenous drug users, heterosexual partners of infected persons, and those who had received blood transfusions. Practising safe sex and avoiding used injection needles are very important in preventing HIV infection.

 
 
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