Acquired Immuno Deficiency syndrome, popularly known by its abbreviation AIDS is a fatal disease as it attacks and destroys the immune system of the body. It is caused by a virus called Human Immuno Deficiency virus or HIV. This virus is even invisible to microscope and can remain in the body for years together without showing any visible symptoms. AIDS is the last stage of infection of the virus. It takes at least 10 years of period between getting infected with HIV and reaching the stage of developing AIDS. The first ever case of a person with AIDS was detected in America in 1959 which later emerged as a dreadfully widespread disease in the 1980s. In India, it was reported in 1986.
HIV is a fast spreading disease in the world which if-not controlled can take epidemic proportions. As per the reports of Indian Health Organization(IHO), women and children are found to be more prone to the disease. The highest number of AIDS cases are found in Mumbai in India which is known as the AIDS capital of the country. A number of HIV cases are reported in recent years.
As per the common myth, HIV infection is not contagious as is measles or chicken pox. The infection mainly spreads through a sexual route or blood to blood contact. HIV spreads mainly through a sexual relationship, whether heterosexual or homosexual with an infected partner, transfusion of HIV infected blood products, use of infected syringes or needles ans is passed on by an infected mother to her unborn child. It is therefore, foolish to believe that HIV spreads through mosquitoes, touching or shaking hands, coughing, or eating from the same plates, or attending similar schools or working together.
AIDS in reality caused by a slow and gradual process. Medically, four stages have been in its long process. The initial HIV infection may show general symptoms like fever, body ache or head ache and then lie dormant for years together without showing any further signs. The infection can be passed on through next, a person may develop enlarged glands in the neck or armpits without any pain or other symptoms. Other symptoms can be fatigue, weight loss, chronic diarrhea, prolonged fever, cough, night sweats etc. Gradually the virus damages the immune system. The last stage of the disease takes at least 10 years to culminate into a fully blown AIDS. By this time, the patient’s immune system is totally destroyed and the person gets infected by various. This stage is easily recognized and a man survives only for about 3-4 years after entering this stage.
Two tests are carried out in order to confirm HIV infection- ELISA and Western Blot. Elisa is simple and the results can be known within a few hours but Western Blot is difficult, expensive and time consuming.
Awareness about the disease, its causes and treatment should be created among the masses. Schools and colleges can act as very effective medium of creating awareness among the youth. These youth in turn can be instrumental in spreading awareness among the other sections of the society. HIV patients need to be cared with compassion and be allowed to live and die with dignity.