Explaining HIV and AIDS

HIV is a virus that targets and alters the immune system, increasing the risk and impact of other infections and diseases. Without treatment, the infection might progress to an advanced stage called AIDS.

Due to medical advances, people with HIV and access to quality healthcare very rarely develop AIDS once they have started taking HIV treatment.

As experts such as the World Health Organization (WHO) observe, HIV has become a manageable condition, and many people with HIV have long, healthy lives.

The life expectancy of a person with HIV is now approaching that of someone who tests negative for the virus, provided that the person takes medications called antiretroviral therapy on an ongoing basis. As of 2019, around 68% of adults and 53% of children with HIV worldwide were receiving lifelong treatment.

In this article, we explore HIV and AIDS, including their symptoms, causes, and treatments.

What is HIV?

HIV stands for “human immunodeficiency virus,” and it attacks immune cells called CD4 cells. These are types of T cell — white blood cells that circulate, detecting infections throughout the body and faults and anomalies in other cells.

HIV targets and infiltrates CD4 cells, using them to create more copies of the virus. In doing so, it destroys the cells and reduces the body’s ability to combat other infections and diseases. This increases the risk and impact of opportunistic infections and some types of cancer.

It is worth noting, however, that some people have HIV for long periods without experiencing any symptoms. HIV is a lifelong condition, but treatments and certain strategies can prevent the virus from transmitting and the infection from progressing.

What is AIDS?

AIDS stands for “acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.” It is an advanced stage of HIV infection. Doctors identify AIDS as having a CD4 count of fewer than 200 cells per cubic millimeter. Also, they may diagnose AIDS if a person has characteristic opportunistic infections, associated types of cancer, or both.

When a person with HIV does not receive treatment, AIDS likely develops, as the immune system gradually wears down. However, advances in antiretroviral treatments have made this progression to AIDS increasingly less common. In 2018, there were more than 1.1 million people living with HIV in the United States and 6,000 deaths related to AIDS.

Causes

HIV can transmit when body fluids containing the virus come into contact with a permeable barrier in the body or small breaks in moist tissues of areas such as the genitals.

Specifically, HIV can transmit via:..…… Continue Reading…….

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