AIDS indeed comes to mind when STDs are discussed. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is a sexually transmitted disease that affects tens of millions worldwide. It is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which targets the immune system mainly to CD4 + T cells. HIV can be transmitted through sexual fluids, blood or breast milk.
By reducing the number of defending cells, HIV allows opportunistic diseases to proliferate. These disorders are caused by pathogens that could easily be repelled by a healthy person. During the initial infection, flu-like symptoms appear. A very long phase that lacks any noticeable sign follows the initial manifestations. Without any HIV test kit, this period cannot be detected.
The diagnosis of HIV is possible through antibodies that react specifically to HIV or the presence of viral particles. The antibodies only form between one and three months after the viral infection. Taking an HIV test before this period will produce a false negative result and possibly a false sense of relief. Fortunately, with modern research, HIV can now be detected even before the formation of antibodies. This has been possible by measuring the HIV-RNA or p24 antigens, which are unique defining features of HIV. The PCR test accurately detects viral RNA.
AIDS is the final and most harmful stage of HIV infection. It usually develops more than a decade after infection. A CD4 + T cell count of fewer than 200 cells per cubic millimeter is the standard way to diagnose AIDS. All people living with AIDS have HIV but not all HIV infections progress to AIDS. When it is treated, HIV infection can prevent it from becoming AIDS.
Rashes, chills, fevers, unusual sweating at night and swollen lymph nodes are some of the manifestations of AIDS. The syndrome can also be diagnosed through the presence of specific opportunistic severe disorders. These include dementia related to AIDS, pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), cryptococcal meningitis and tuberculosis. AIDS also accompanies the development of cervical cancers and several other cancers.
There is still a meager rate of early diagnosis of AIDS / HIV, especially in heavily afflicted developing countries. In many cases, HIV is only identified when complete AIDS develops. Ironically, there are available HIV home test kits that can detect the presence of the virus in a matter of ten to fifteen minutes. This HIV test kit can lead to early mitigation of the illness and, in fact, the HIV test can prevent the infection from evolving into AIDS.
Despite many years of research, there is still no treatment to eradicate HIV and kill AIDS completely. This unfortunate phenomenon is due to the high rates of replication and mutation of HIV, which are ingredients for successful drug resistance. The best modern medicine can do ensure that patients with AIDS live long lives that are as normal as possible. AIDS treatment includes highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), treatment to prevent opportunistic conditions, and treatment of HIV-related disorders.
HAART is done through the simultaneous intake of at least three different drugs that suppress the population with HIV. Entry inhibitors, protease inhibitors, nucleosides and nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) are the drugs used in HAART. Inhibitors of entry control HIV by preventing the virus from penetrating healthy cells, while other medications avert viral replication using various mechanisms.
When performed faithfully, HAART can also drastically decrease the chances of a pregnant mother with HIV transmitting the virus to her child or passing the infection to an intimate partner. Very effective retroviral therapy can produce a negative result when the patient undergoes a standard HIV home test.
Preventive medications reduce the risk of developing opportunistic diseases. These medicines work mainly by strengthening the immunity of the committed patient. Treatments for AIDS-related disorders are taken when preventive medications fail. To ensure the success of these medical procedures, a healthy lifestyle is crucial. This way of life is achieved with a healthy and balanced diet.
Prevention, of course is still the way to go. Practice safe sex, avoid using unsterilized needles, go to trusted medical and dental centers for safe dental procedures and surgeries to avoid infection through tainted blood and tools.