The primary causative agent of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and AIDS related complexes is human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV is a non oncogenic retrovirus which belongs to the family of retroviridae and the sub family of lentiviridae known as "slow viruses" having a long incubation period with gradual onset and progressive course of disease that invariably end in death. AIDS was first described in 1981 and the responsible virus was isolated by the end of 1983.
There are two types of HIV, HIV 1 and HIV 2. HIV 1 is more prevalent and potent than HIV 2.
HIV 1 virus
Both HIV 1 and 2 are closely related to the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIVs) which were distributed among and derived from various species of African pirates. The SIV from chimpanzee seems to have infected humans and developed into HIV 1, HIV 2 may have arisen from the SIV that infects sooty mangabeys.
HIV 2 virus
HIV/AIDS can now be classified as pandemic. It is a health problem of extraordinary scope affecting almost all nations of the world. The groups at risk in acquiring AIDS are homosexual/bisexual men, intravenous (IV) drugs user; heterosexuals who have intercourse with drugs users, prostitutes (sex trade workers), transfusion patients and children born of infected mothers.
ROUTES OF TRANSMISSION
Precisely, there are three main ways by which HIV can be transmitted from infected individuals to healthy people and includes;
- Sexual contact with infected people.
- Transmission through transfusion of contaminated blood and its products as well as use of non- sterilized instruments such as needles, razors and other medica implements which may be contaminated.
- vertical transmission from infected mother to her child during pregnancy or breast feeding.
Sexual transmission occurs when there is contact between sexual secretion of one partner genital with the rectal (anal sex) or mucous membrane of another person who is infected with HIV. The virus being an obligate intracellular ultra- microscopic organisms can enter the body through the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis or mouth during unprotected sexual intercourse. Normally the receptive partner is at much risk than the insertive partner. Thus, females are generally at a higher risk than the male during heterosexual contact.
Following the initial infection, the Virus spreads throughout the body via the blood and lymphatic systems, quickly infecting the lymphoid tissues. As the infection progresses, leading to more severe manifestations of disease condition. It takes several years for the effect of HIV infection to become obvious. It is thought that during this long clinical latency period, the immune system is at war with the virus. As the virus kills the CD4 cells, more CD4 cells are produced to bring about a decrease in the concentration of virus. The surviving virus particles produce more viruses by infecting surviving CD4 cells. The concentration of viral particles raises to high levels as the newly infected cells release their pregnancy virus. Eventually the CD4 T - lymphocytes are overwhelmed, the body immune system collapses and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) manifestation set in.
Symptoms of acute HIV infection are non specific and are often preceded by a prodrome of diarrhea dwindling. The symptoms include; fatigue, headache, rashes, malaise, nausea, weight loss, fever, shortness of breath, night sweat, chronic diarrhea, oral can did I as is and lymphadenopathy. If no treatment is given in adults, the interval between the primary infection with HIV and the first appearance of clinical disease is about eight to ten years. After which death occurs in about two years.
Immature and mature HIV
Laboratory diagnosis of AIDS can be by viral isolation and culture or by detecting specific anti- HIV antibodies in the blood using rapid test kits. The varieties of the test available include;
- Antibody test, including those that use serum, plasma, whole blood, oral fluid and urine.
- viral antigen test.
- Sensitive/less sensitive test that can estimate the relative time of infection. This is referred as incidence rate.
- qualitative and quantitative nucleic acid test.
- viral sequence test to identify viral resistance.
- Immunophenotyping test that are used to monitor the immune system during infection.
PREVENTION AND CONTROL.
HIV/AIDS is preventable, and prevention is better than treatment. The following hints will stop the spread of HIV/AIDS from our society.
- know your HIV status by visiting center for counseling and testing.
- Total sexual abstinence should be practiced by the unmarried individuals because casual sex is dangerous.
- Be faithful to your one and only spouse.
- Avoid transfusion/transplantation of unscreened blood, blood product, semen and organs.
- All women infected with HIV should avoid pregnancy.
6)HIV infected persons should adhere to doctors prescriptions on drug/food medication.
- For protection, the use of condom properly and consistently may help where abstinence cannot be maintained.
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