Communicable Diseases

AIDS is a chronic disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that affects and destroys CD4 cells; which are a type of white blood cell that is responsible for the immune system. AIDS develops when the number of CD4 cells falls below 200 cells in (HIV) infected patients.

The symptoms of (HIV/AIDS) vary, depending on the phase of infection.

Primary infection:
People infected by HIV often develop a flu-like illness within a month or two after the virus enters the body, the symptoms include:
  • Fever
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Rash
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Mouth or genital ulcers
  • Swollen lymph glands, mainly on the neck
  • Night sweats
  • Diarrhea

Clinical infection:
Clinical infection typically lasts for 8 to 10 years, depending on the extent of the immune system infection and ability to fight the virus. During that period, symptoms may not appear at all.

Symptomatic phase and AIDS/HIV progression:
In case the disease remains undetected, and thus untreated, the disease will progress to the phase where chronic symptoms and recurrent opportunistic infections occur; The signs and symptoms of some of these infections may include:
  • Night sweats
  • Chill or fever (higher than 38 C for several weeks)
  • Cough and shortness of breath
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • White spots on the tongue or in the mouth
  • Headaches
  • Impaired vision
  • Weight loss
  • Skin rash

HIV/AIDS Transmission:
HIV/AIDS is transmitted through blood or body fluids (semen, and vaginal discharge), by:
  • Sexual intercourse: the virus is transmitted during sex through liquids and Sexual secretions from the infected person to the uninfected person, whether it is vaginal, anal or oral sexual intercourse.
  • Blood transfusion: the virus is transmitted through blood, in the case of not following the accurate laboratory screening methods.
  • Sharing infected injections: especially between drug addicts.
  • Mother-to-fetus infection: the infection may be transmitted from the mother to her fetus if proper medication was not provided to her during pregnancy.
  • Breastfeeding: the infection is transmitted from the mother to her baby during breastfeeding; therefore, an infected mother must not breastfeed her baby.

Although HIV might exist in other body liquids such as saliva, sweat, tears, and urine, it is actually not transmitted through such liquids or through the following:
  • Hugging, kissing, or shaking hands.
  • Sneezing or coughing.
  • Bathtubs or swimming pools.
  • Using toilets or towels.
  • Eating with or sharing utensils with an infected person.
  • Insects.

People highly prone to (HIV/AIDS):
  • People having unprotected sex and homosexuals.
  • People suffering from sexual diseases; which cause ulcers in genital parts that make HIV enter easily.
  • Sharing syringes, especially between drug addicts.
  • Uncircumcised men; as studies indicate that lack of circumcision increases the risk for heterosexual transmission of HIV.

HIV is diagnosed by conducting a blood test; for the presence of antibodies to the virus using ELISA or Combo tests, as antibodies appear within 6 to 12 weeks after the onset of infection. If proven positive, the result is further verified by a confirmatory test called “Western Blot”, which gives a confirmed result.

(HIV) infection weakens the immune system, making it highly susceptible to all sorts of opportunistic infections and certain types of cancers. Such infections may cause:
  • Tuberculosis
  • Salmonellosis
  • Meningitis

There's no cure for HIV/AIDS, but a variety of drugs can be used in combination to control the virus, such as:

​Class ​Function ​Examples
​Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) ​disable a protein needed by HIV to make copies of itself ​(Sustiva)
​Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) ​NRTIs are faulty versions of building blocks that HIV needs to make copies of itself ​(Ziagen)
​Protease inhibitors (PIs) ​disable protease, another protein that HIV needs to make copies of itself ​(Reyataz)
​Entry or fusion inhibitors ​block HIV's entry into CD4 cells ​ (Fuzeon)
​Integrase inhibitors ​Raltegravir (Isentress) works by disabling integrase, a protein that HIV uses to insert its genetic material into CD4 cells (Isentress)

HIV/AIDS Prevention:
  • Avoid forbidden sexual relations outside of wedlock.
  • Use a condom if either partner is infected.
  • Avoid using used syringes,‏ needles, sharp tools or razors.

Up until now, there's no vaccine to prevent HIV infection.

Last Update : 04 March 2018 10:28 AM
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