AIDs stands for Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome. The causative agent of Acquired Immuno Deficiency syndrome is HIV which stands for Human Immuno Deficiency Virus. Acquired Immuno Deficiency syndrome is a severe, life-threatening disease which has no cure but could control to some extent by the proper vaccination and medication. ART (Anti-Retroviral Therapy) is the only control measure which includes a combination of HIV medicines.
In the year 2003, 3million people died due to Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome. During 2003, around 5 million adults and children acquired HIV. To create awareness among people, UNAIDS (United Nations AIDs), UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Fund) and WHO (World Health Organization) have put on many efforts to control and cure the disease. Now, In 1st of December, World AIDs day is being celebrated. The development of AIDs takes more than 8-10 years to show its symptoms and 50% of the cases occurring in the age group of 15-24.
Meaning of AIDs
Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome is a disease that is caused by the infectious agent HIV which damages the CD4 cells (A type of effector T-cells), that protects the body against the foreign body and acquire various types of infections and disease refers as AIDs.
Transmission of AIDs
The transmission of AIDs is through various ways like:
- By the bodily fluids which include: Blood, semen, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, breast milk etc. but mainly through the blood.
- AIDs can be transmitted during the blood transfusion.
- Spreads through unsafe sexual practices.
- Transmission by sharing a needle, tattoo equipment with the HIV-infected person.
Facts about AIDs
- Acquired Immuno Deficiency syndrome is the last or advanced stage of HIV infection.
- If HIV is left untreated, it progresses to AIDs, which can’t cure but can control with an ART (Anti-Retroviral Therapy).
- AIDs is the advanced stage of HIV, which means if a person has HIV then it does not mean that he/she is suffering from AIDs.
- At the stage of AIDs, the normal count of CD4 cells which is about 500-1500/ mm3 reduces below 200/ mm3.
- Without any control measures, life expectancy is about 3 years, because of severe illness and weakened the immune system.
- Acquired Immuno Deficiency syndrome makes the person highly vulnerable to many diseases and infections.
Symptoms of AIDs
When the HIV enters our body, then after a few weeks the stage refers as “Acute stage of infection”. This stage of infection lasts for few weeks to few months. The symptoms of the acute stage of Acquired Immuno Deficiency syndrome include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Muscle ache
- Skin Rashes
- Sore throat
Then after a few months of acute infection, the HIV enters the stage of severe clinical latency stage which can last for several years to a few decades. This stage includes some non-specific symptoms like:
- Recurrent fever
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Night Sweats
- Weight loss
- Skin Rashes
- Oral or vaginal yeast infections
After a chronic latency period, the HIV virus causes Acquired Immuno Deficiency syndrome where the immune system becomes severely damaged or compromised to fight off against infections and disease. AIDs includes the following symptoms like:
- Recurrent fever
- Night Sweats
- Chronic fatigue
- Chronic swollen in lymph glands
- Dark splotches under the skin
- The appearance of spots, spores and lesions on the mouth, tongue, genital areas
- Appearance rashes and lesions on the skin
Complications of AIDs
There are some complications which arise due to the weakened immune system or we can say in an immunocompromised person. The complication of Acquired Immuno Deficiency syndrome include:
Pneumonia: It is the respiratory infection in the lungs where the air sac becomes filled with the fluid.
Tuberculosis: Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes tuberculosis which is a respiratory disease which affects the lungs.
Oral thrush: It is a fungal infection in the mouth or throat.
Cytomegalovirus infection: Cytomegalovirus is a type of Herpesvirus that cause infection is eyes, brain and internal organs.
Cryptococcal meningitis: It is the fungal infection of the brain.
Toxoplasmosis: Toxoplasma gondii is the parasite which infects the brain and causes Toxoplasmosis.
Cryptosporidiosis: Cryptosporidium causes Cryptosporidiosis which is a parasitic disease that affects the intestine system leading to diarrhoea.
The Acquired Immuno Deficiency syndrome has to be diagnosed early as the symptom appears. There are several tests that are being widely used for the diagnosis of Acquired Immuno Deficiency syndrome like:
ELISA- test: It stands for Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay. It is the immunoassay technique which detects the presence or absence of HIV virus by taking the patient’s blood. If the ELISA gives a positive test for the presence of antigen i.e. HIV then perform western blotting test to confirm the diagnosis of HIV-infection.
Home test: This test is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. This test refers as “Home Access Express Test” that is also available in the pharmacies.
Saliva tests: First the saliva is collected from the patient with the help of cotton pad. Then place a cotton pad in a vial and subject it for further testing in a lab, which gives results within three days. But, for the more positive result, the blood test is recommended.
Viral load test: This test measures the amount of HIV in a patient’s serum at the early stage of the HIV infection. There are three methods which are used to detect the viral load in the blood namely:
- Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR)
- Branched DNA (bDNA)
- Nucleic –acid sequence-based amplification assay (NASBA)
All these tests involve the binding of the DNA sequences particularly to the HIV virus if a person has HIV.
Western blotting test: It is a confirmatory test that is used to confirm the positive ELISA test result.
The treatment of HIV- infection or AIDs can be controlled by using ART therapy which stands for “Antiretroviral Therapy”. This is the only way to treat or to control HIV infection. Antiretroviral Therapy not only controls the HIV-infection but also reduce the risk of transmission.
Antiretroviral Therapy involves the combination of HIV medicines to cure the disease which contains NNRTIs, NRTIs, PIs, Fusion inhibitors, CCR5 Antagonists, INSTIs and Post attachment inhibitors.
Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs): This medicine particularly switches off the protein required by HIV to replicate.
Examples: Efavirenz, Etravirine, Nevirapine etc.
Nucleoside/ Nucleotide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs): This medicine acts as a faulty building block that HIV needs to form replicas.
Examples: Abacavir, Descovy etc.
Protease Inhibitors (PIs): These inhibit the HIV protease enzyme which helps in making new copies of HIV.
Examples: Atazanavir, Darunavir, Fosamprenavir etc.
Entry or Fusion Inhibitors: It inhibits the entry of the HIV virus to the CD4 cells.
Examples: Enfuvirtide, Maraviroc etc.
Integrase inhibitors: This kind of medicines inhibits the protein “Integrase”, which helps the HIV virus at the time of insertion of genetic material in the CD4 cell.
Examples: Raltegravir, Dolutegravir etc.
- Eat healthy food like whole grains, fruits and vegetables to support the immune system.
- Avoid eating unpasteurized animal products like raw milk, raw eggs, raw seafood etc.
- By the proper vaccination, one can prevent complications of HIV like pneumonia, flu etc.
- Maintain proper hygiene.
- Avoid sharing personal items.
- Take precautions while getting intimate.
There are many cases, where the people died due to the cause of AIDs which resulted in epidemics in many regions like Africa, India, South America and South-East Asia. Therefore, Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome is spreading widely all over the world and still spreading at an alarming rate. Therefore, we should be aware of this disease. If there are any symptoms like AIDs, we must consult a doctor or physician and we must take precautions to prevent the disease.