Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome/Human Immuno Virus. It is important to distinguish between the two. HIV is the virus that ultimately causes AIDS. AIDS is a syndrome, a collection of symptoms associated with HIV infection.
People infected with HIV may have no symptoms for up to ten years. During this time, they are capable of infecting anyone they have sex with or donate blood to. Initial symptoms of HIV infection include inexplicable weight loss, persistent fever, swollen lymph nodes, and reddish spots on the skin. HIV causes the destruction of the immune system. It’s most pronounced symptoms, therefore, are opportunistic infections of pneumocystis carinii, fungal infections, tuberculosis, and various herpes forms.
There is no cure for HIV / AIDS. Right now most scientists agree that if you are infected with HIV, you will eventually die of AIDS. Treatment may fend off infections, however the typical course is for one overwhelming infection to follow another until the victim succumbs. Various drugs may slow the virus, but right now there is no cure.
In a person infected with HIV, the virus can be present in the body’s semen, blood, and breast milk. It can also be present, in much smaller quantities, in vaginal secretion, saliva, and tears. The AIDS virus can be transmitted via any of these fluids, but only the first two -- semen and blood -- are likely to be involved. Anal sex is the most commonly perceived method of transfer, but vaginal sex has been repeatedly shown to transmit HIV. Men are less likely than women to be infected through vaginal sex, but there are recorded cases of men having been infected this way. HIV cannot be passed on through casual contact, hugging, hand-shaking, touching the sweat of an infected person, or mosquito bites.
HIV testing is usually carried out by various social organisations. Home HIV kits are also available in the market. there are various laws in differrent countries regarding testing. The HIV test shows the presence of antibodies to HIV. It does not show the presence of the virus: the body first has to develop antibodies, which normally takes about six weeks. Hence, a positive result means that someone has antibodies and could possibly develop AIDS in the future. A negative result means that someone does not have antibodies at the moment. If there is a reason to think that exposure was more recent than six weeks, then a test taken immediately can only serve as a baseline to compare against a test taken later. Within six months of HIV infection, 99% of the population will test positive. No one should be tested for HIV without first obtaining counselling and ensuring beforehand support from his or her family or friends.
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