Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infections and AIDS

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Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infections and AIDS

In the United States, Acquired Immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) was first detected in 1982. The group that led to the discovery of AIDS were previously healthy homosexual men suffering from P. carinii pneumonia infection. The term 'AIDS' was coined in by the Center of Disease Control. Almost everyone infected with HIV develops the HIV disease, ultimately leading to AIDS.

Symptoms

The incubation period lasts 6 days to 6 weeks. Patients may suffer from fever, headache, sore throat, muscle aches, enlarged lymph nodes, and a generalized rash. Some subjects may also suffer from moodiness and confusion to seizures and paralysis. These symptoms constitute the acute retroviral syndrome (ARS), and end after about 6 weeks.

The stage after the acute illness, if any, is the asymptomatic period that lasts for years. During this time, the disease advances in the infected person, with the risk of transmission to another person - probably a sexual partner or partners. The person's lymph nodes enlarge and the person enters the stage called the lymphadenopathy syndrome (LAS). Other symptoms may include weight loss, fever, fatigue, and diarrhea. These symptoms are called the AIDS-related complex (ARC).

Further Investigation

There is no vaccination for AIDS. All we know is how it is transmitted and how it can be prevented - I guess, that's a weapon in itself. Fortunately, AIDS is not very contagious, like flu is. It is advised to practice safe sex. Furthermore, it is advised to take extreme care to avoid anything that is contaminated with someone else's blood.

Origins of HIV

The virus that causes AIDS mutated into its present form between 50 or 150 years. This is very recent in terms of evolution. In fact, study shows that an AIDS-like virus was present in individuals from Africa back in the 1950s.

Furthermore, a virus similar to AIDS has been found in certain African chimpanzees - and the virus doesn't seem to harm them - they've coexisted for a long time. Another AIDS-like virus exists in African monkeys. These monkeys - the large sooty mangabey - are often hunted for food, and this is how it got to humans, and this "jump" most like occurred in the 1930s. There is even the possibility that the AIDS virus may have existed in isolated African villages for centuries and has come into the limelight only recently.

The truth is, we may never know anything about the mysterious origins of this disease, and how to eliminate it. These questions have opened up many venues of investigation, and many researchers are working on it worldwide.

People at Risk

Injected-drug abusers who share needles, persons who receive blood transfusions, sexually promiscuous people, and people with a history of hepatitis B, syphilis, gonorrhea or other STDs.

Additional Readings:

Basic Virology

1. Immune defences against viruses
2. Viral Hepatitis
3. DNA viruses
4. Positive-sense RNA viruses
5. Human Immunodeficiency Virus
6. Negative sense RNA viruses
7. Double stranded RNA Viruses
8. Viruses associated with cancer
9. Generalized vs specialized transduction
10. Hepatitis serologic markers
11. Bacterial vs viral infections
12. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infections and AIDS
13. Steps When Patient is Newly Diagnosed with HIV

Related Topics

1. Prenatal Infections

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