AIDS is a chronic and potentially lethal condition which is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. This damages the immune system which interferes with the body’s abilities to fight the organisms which cause disease.
HIV is considered a disease which is sexually transmitted or STD. It may also be spread thru contact with blood which is infected or from mother to child during pregnancy, during childbirth or by breast-feeding. It may take years before HIV can deteriorate the immune system to the position that you have AIDS.
Currently there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but there are drugs which can considerably slow the development of the disease. These medications have dramatically reduced deaths from AIDS in many developed nations. But, HIV is still a deadly problem in Haiti, Africa and part of Asia.
After the first infection with HIV, there may be no symptoms of signs at all, but the individual is able to transmit the virus to others. Some individuals develop flu-like illness which is brief 2 to 4 weeks after getting infected. Symptoms and signs can include:
- Sore throat
- Swollen lymphatic glands
An individual can remain free of symptoms for years after initially being infected. But as this virus keeps on multiplying and destroying immune cells, the individual can develop chronic symptoms or mild infections such as:
- Swollen lymphatic nodes – often 1st signs of HIV infection
- Weight loss
- Cough as well as shortness of breath
If the individual receives no therapy for the HIV infection, this disease normally progresses to AIDS in about ten years. When AIDS develops, the immune system has been damaged severely, making the individual susceptible to all types of opportunistic infections – usually illnesses that would not bother another person who has an immune system that is healthy. The symptoms and signs of these infections can include:
- Night sweats
- Chills or fever which are higher than 100 F for several weeks
- Shortness of breath as well as a cough
- Diarrhea which is chronic
- White spots which are persistent or lesions which are unusual on the tongue or the mouth
- Unexplained or persistent fatigue
- Weight loss
- Distorted or blurred vision
- Skin bumps or rashes
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