A Horrendous Disease
“AIDS, the Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome, has assumed alarming proportions in the last few years, though it has been surreptitiously developing over a number of years.”
Many theories have been adduced to unravel the mystery shrouding the origin of AIDS, but none is perfect. The first few cases of AIDS came to light in the early eighties. A victim of the disease of AIDS was found in 1981. Having a very low resistance to diseases he later succumbed to pneumonia. The term AIDS was actually coined in 1982. After much debate the virus was called HIV, i.e., Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
Some Facts About AIDS
A positive HIV test does not mean that a person has AIDS. A diagnosis of AIDS is made by a physician, according to the AIDS case definition.
Over the time, the infection with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) can weaken the immune system to the point that the system has difficulty in fighting certain bacteria causing infections. These types of infections are known as opportunistic infections. Many of the infections that cause problems or that can be life-threatening for people with AIDS are usually controlled by a healthy immune system.
Difference between HIV and AIDS
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
H – Human because this virus can only infect human beings.
I – Immunodeficiency because the effect of the virus is to creates deficiency, failure to work properly, within the body’s immune system.
V – Virus because this organism is a virus which means one of its characteristics is that it is incapable of reproducing by itself. It reproduces by taking over the machinery of the human cell.
A – Acquired because it’s a condition one must acquire or get infected with; not something transmitted through the genes.
I – Immuno it affects the body’s immune system, the part of the body which usually works to fight germs such as bacteria and viruses.
D – Deficiency because it makes the immune system deficient (makes it not work properly).
S – Syndrome because someone with AIDS may experience a wide range of different diseases and opportunistic infections.
Can one get HIV from casual contact (shaking hands, hugging, using a toilet, drinking from the same glass, or by sneezing and coughing of an infected person)?
No, HIV is not transmitted by day-to-day contact in the home, the workplace, schools or social sittings. HIV is not transmitted through shaking hands, hugging or a casual kiss. One cannot get infected from a toilet seat, a – drinking fountain, a doorknob, dishes, drinking glasses, food or pets.
HIV is a fragile virus that cannot live long outside the body. HIV is not an airborne or food borne virus. HIV is present in the blood, semen or vaginal secretions of an infected person and can be transmitted through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex, or through sharing injfection^drug needles.
Can a Woman Transmit HTV to a Man during Vaginal Intercourse?
Yes, if the woman is infected, HIV is present in vaginal and cervical secretions and can enter the penis through the urethra or through cuts or abrasions on the skin of the penis. The presence of other STDs can increase the ‘risk of transmission. The correct and consistent use of a latex condom or female condom can reduce the risk of transmitting HIV during vaginal intercourse.
How Effective are Latex Condoms in Preventing HIV?
Several studies have demonstrated that latex condoms are highly effective in preventing HIV transmission, when\ used correctly and consistently.
What if One is HIV-Positive?
If one gets HIV-positive, early medical treatment, a healthy lifestyle and a positive attitude can help one stay well. Prompt medical care may delay the onset of AIDS and prevent some life-threatening conditions.
How Long after a Possible Exposure should one be Tested for HIV?
The time it takes for a person who has been infected with HIV to seroconvert (test positive) for HIV antibodies is commonly called the ‘Window Period*. “When a person is infected with the HIV virus, statistics show that 95-97% (perhaps higher) of all infected individuals develop antibodies within 12 weeks (3 months)”. The National CDC says that in some cases, it may take six months to seroconvert (test positive). At this point, the results would be 99.9% accurate.
What does this Mean for a Person?
The three-months window period is normal for approximately 95% of the population. If you feel any anxiety about relying on the 3 months result, by all means you should have another test at 6 months.
Is there Anything One can do to Stay Healthy?
In short, the answer is yes. There are things that one can do and stay healthy.
Emotional support may be very important for HIV-positive people because it breaks the isolation and provides a safe way of sharing both feelings and practical information.
Do the New Drugs we hear About Cure AIDS?
At present, there is no cure for AIDS, but these drugs help to prolong the lives of many people with AIDS and delay the onset of AIDS in many people with HIV.
Owing to the rapid pace, it has spread all over the world. It has earned a veritable state of Pandemic. The situation has been veVy grave in the USA, Thailand and many African, Central American and East Asian countries. It is estimated that the developing countries account for 84% of the total HIV infectants.
The lower strata of the society are more prone to HIV due to poverty, illiteracy, lack of access to the proper counselling and medical facilities. Despite the best efforts of NGOs, voluntary social workers, a large number of people living are oblivious of the dreaded effects of the AIDS. The most common mode of AIDS transmission is through sexual intercourse, when one of the partners is HIV-positive. It can be transmitted from a mother to her infant in the womb, though the chances are 26%. Transmission of the disease by HIV contaminated blood transfusion is also common. Illiterate and ignorant people treat AIDS as a retribution and ostracise the affected people. That AIDS to HIV patients, woes, and they are driven away from their homes and jobs, and all social bonds are delinked. Indian women are the worst affected, for they have to strive to succeed as mothers and wives despite being bed-ridden. In most of the cases, they are excommunicated and left to die. These social trends and behaviours make AIDS more horrendous and more dreaded. India has launched a National Campaign to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Phase I (1002-99) of the programme was implemented across the country with objective to slow the spread of HIV to reduce future morbidity, mortality, and the impact of AIDS by initiating a major effort in the prevention of HIV transmission.
Phase II (1999-2006) was aimed at reducing spread of HIV infection in India and strengthen India’s capacity to respond to HIV epidemic on long-term basis.
Phase III (2007-12) is based on the experiences and lessons drawn from NACPI and II, and is built upon their strengths. Its priorities and thrust areas are drawn up accordingly, and include the consideration that more than 99% of the population in the country is free from infection. NACP III places the highest priority on preventive efforts while, at the same time, seeks to integrate prevention with care, support and treatment.