What Is AIDS?
AIDS is short for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. AIDS is a disease that slowly destroys the body’s immune system. Without these important defenses, a person with AIDS can’t fight off germs and cancers.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It kills an important kind of blood cell - the CD4 T lymphocyte, or T cell. These T cells are the quarterbacks of the immune system. As they die off, the body becomes more and more vulnerable to other diseases. Germs take this opportunity to invade the body. The diseases they cause are called opportunistic infections (OIs for short). When people with HIV get these infections - or when their CD4 T-cell levels get too low - they have AIDS.
Usually it takes many years for HIV to weaken the body’s immune system to the point of AIDS. Anti-HIV drugs help prevent this. Even when a person already has AIDS, the drugs can help a person get better.
Anti-HIV drugs let many people with HIV infection live healthy lives. Combinations of these powerful medicines work very well, but they often have serious side effects, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and fatigue. And people with HIV have to keep taking these drugs every day for the rest of their lives. Ask anyone who’s taking these "drug cocktails" - it’s best to avoid getting HIV in the first place.
Signs and symptoms of HIV in men can range from flu-like symptoms, to dementia, weight loss and fatigue.
A HIV infection can remain symptomless for many years. The only way of knowing your status for sure, is getting tested. You can order a HIV testing kit from our website and receive your test result within 2 days.
AIDS is a worldwide epidemic. Most cases are in Africa, but the disease is spreading most rapidly in Eastern Europe and Asia. Even if a cure were found tomorrow, AIDS will be the most deadly disease ever to plague mankind.
What Causes It?
HIV - human immunodeficiency virus - causes AIDS. HIV infection is for life. There is no cure, but anti-HIV drugs keep HIV in check. Unfortunately, 95% of the world’s HIV infected people cannot afford this medicine.
There are a few people who say HIV does not cause AIDS. Some are scientists, but none of them are AIDS experts. They offer only false hope and no answers. Overwhelming medical and scientific evidence shows that HIV is the AIDS virus. Every major health organization in the world says that HIV is a killer.
There are two main types of HIV - HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-2 is rare outside Africa.
HIV and Women
In the United States, about two out of every three new cases of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections in women are due to unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Sharing infected needles for drug use is another leading cause.
Early symptoms of HIV infection may be mild and easily unnoticed and dismissed. Unfortunately, even without noticeable symptoms, an infected person can still pass the virus on to others. Read on to learn some common symptoms of HIV in women.
You can’t catch HIV unless another person’s body fluids - blood, semen, or vaginal secretions - enter your bloodstream. This can happen through the tip of the penis, through the vagina, through the rectum, or through an open wound.
HIV is spread:
- By having sex without a condom. Vaginal and anal sex carry a high risk. The risk of getting HIV from oral sex is low.
- By sharing needles and/or syringes to inject drugs or steroids.
- From a mother to her infant during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.
- By getting a tattoo or piercing from a dirty needle.
- By transfusions, blood products, or organ transplants. This kind of transmission no longer happens in developed countries, which test all donated blood and organs for HIV.
Early Symptoms Can Be Fleeting
In the early weeks after becoming infected with HIV, it is not uncommon for women to be asymptomatic. Some may have mild flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, and lack of energy. Often, these symptoms go away within a few weeks.
In some cases, it may take as many as ten years for more severe symptoms to appear. During this time, the virus can still be transmitted from one person to another.
You can’t get HIV from a toilet seat or from touching an infected person. You can’t get HIV from being sneezed or coughed or spit on by an infected person. You can’t get HIV from kissing (although there is a theoretical risk from very deep "French" kissing). You can’t get HIV from a mosquito, flea, or tick bite.
Fever and Night Sweats
People infected with HIV may experience long periods of low-grade fever. According to Ohio State University Wexler Medical Center, a temperature between 99.8 and 100.8 degrees Fahrenheit is considered to be a low-grade fever. A fever means that something is wrong, but the cause isn’t always obvious. Because it’s a low-grade fever, those who are unaware of their HIV-positive status may ignore the symptom. Sometimes, fever is accompanied by nighttime sweats that can interfere with sleep.
Source: Your Health Encyclopedia, 4-rd Edition, 2002