What is HIV?

One of the deadliest assassins in the world is neither a human nor animal. This killer is HIV and it is horrendous because it destroys the toughest defence the human race has: the immune system.

HIV, the acronym for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is a disease that can fester in the body for a number of years prior to emerging. The reason for this is that HIV attacks the immune system, specifically the T-cells/CD4 cells. Both are interchangeable terms for the cells which protect the body from infections. These cells work like analysts who bring attention to an inconsistency, so to speak.

As soon as transmission occurs, the HIV virus not only attacks these cells but uses these cells in order to create copies of HIV cells. Unfortunately, the more of these cells there are, the quicker it spreads throughout the body.  

So how dangerous can this become?

Remember those times when you got the flu, the common cold or the fever? Surely you didn’t feel at all virulent during the peak of those infections though eventually, your immune system fought them off. That’s because your T-cells are completely functional. Now, imagine the consequence of the situation should you not have defenders in your body.

It would be bleak, to say the least.  

This is what individuals with HIV have to struggle with – avoid tremendous stress to their immune systems. These same people undergo 3 stages of the HIV life cycle:

1)      Acute Infection

  • Virus particles are multiplying expeditiously | Most experience terrible flu symptoms

2)      Clinical Latency

  • The replication process slows down | This stage can last as long as a decade for some | Experience either no or mild symptoms

3)      AIDS

  • Stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome | Low T-cells | Catching Opportunistic Infections (Lymphoma, Tuberculosis, etc.)

The World Health Organization has at their disposal a factsheet which provides global statistics:

  • On average, 1.5 million people worldwide died of causes linked to HIV
  • The most infected region is Sub-Saharan Africa in 2013, meaning the region has 70% of the recorded worldwide patients
  • Blood tests are usually the ones to detect HIVs
  • HIV doesn’t have a cure as of yet

HIV is an infection which has a high risk of transmission and the easiest manner to contract it is through sexual intercourse, anal or vaginal. Needle-related incidences - such as sharing tainted needles or receiving unsafe transfusions – also contribute to the causes.

Children who are born with the virus only have HIV & not AIDS. In order to restrain the spread, always ensure your partner is risk-free and if you are infected, restrict yourself from infecting those who aren’t.

Condoms are always a safe choice since they have a 99% effective rate.

While HIV is a serious physical condition which can be fatal to one’s life, it is imperative to know there are treatments available. The attention this virus receives varies from country to country.  

WHO notes that effective treatment for HIV and AIDS is Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) and in 2013, at least 12.9 million people utilized it successfully. Keep in mind that ART does not remove the virus from the body systems.

ART uses three or more combined Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to contain the virus. This treatment has helped various individuals around the world, especially more vulnerable groups such as children and pregnant women.

At the end of the day, HIV & AIDS can be reduced through meticulous attention to your sex life and partner’s health and should infection occur, there are a number of drugs that can assist for a better life.

If you suspect an HIV infection, it is compulsory to get a check-up since the virus spreads swiftly and the longer you wait, the more danger you place yourself in. Quick action can save years.

Check your local government and WHO for the latest information regarding this virus.