HIV virus causing AIDS enters the blood and quickly penetrates white cells.
Then they program the white cells, after which there is often little or no trace of the AIDS virus at all. This situation usually lasts for six to
twelve weeks. During this time the person is free of HIV or AIDS symptoms and antibody tests for AIDS and HIV are negative.
First Symptoms of AIDS Illness (HIV Infection): First thing that starts developing in
a flu like illness, which may look like glandular fever with swollen glands in the neck and armpits.
At this stage the blood test will usually become positive as it picks up the tell-tale antibodies. Most people do not realise
what is happening, although when they later develop AIDS they look back and remember it clearly. Most people have produced antibodies in about twelve weeks.
Latent infection: The person in this stage has a positive HIV test. The virus often seems to disappear completely from the blood again.
At least nine out of ten who see these HIV and AIDS symptoms will develop further
problems. Without use of the latest therapies:50% with HIV develop AIDS in ten years, 70% with HIV develop
AIDS in fourteen years. Of those with AIDS, 94% are dead in five years
The next HIV AIDS symptoms stage begins when the immune ystem starts to break down. This is often preceded by subtle mutations in the virus, during which it becomes
more aggressive in damaging white cells. Several glands in the neck and armpits may swell and remain swollen for more than three months without any explanation.
This is known as persistent generalised lymphadenopathy (PGL).
Early HIV Virus Progression
As the HIV disease progresses, the person starts
showing up other AIDS symptoms. A simple boil or warts may spread all over the body. The mouth may become infected
by thrush (thick white coating), or may develop some other problem. Dentists are often the first to be in a
position to make the diagnosis. People may develop severe shingles (painful blisters in a band of red
skin), or herpes. They may feel overwhelmingly tired all the time, have high temperatures, drenching night sweats, lose more than 10% of their body weight, and
have diarrhoea lasting more than a month. No other cause is found and a blood test will usually be positive.
Some used to call this stage ARC, or AIDS related complex.
Late HIV Illness
The AIDS Symptoms: The final stage is AIDS. Most of the immune system is
intact and the body can deal with most infections, but one or two more unusual infections become almost impossible for the body to get rid of without medical
help, usually intensive antibiotics. These infections can be a nightmare for doctors and
patients. The desperate struggle is to find the new germ, identify it, and give the right drug in huge doses to kill it. The germ may be hiding deep in a lung
requiring a tube (bronchoscope) to be put down the windpipe into the lung to get a sample. The person is sedated for this.
It may be hiding in the fluid covering the brain and spinal cord, requiring a needle to be put
into the spine (lumbar puncture). It may be hiding in the brain itself.
It may hide in the liver or gall-bladder or bowel. It can hide anywhere.
WHO disease staging system for HIV infection
In 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) grouped these
infections and conditions together by introducing a staging system for patients infected with HIV-1. An update took place in September
2005. Most of these conditions are opportunistic infections that are easily treatable in healthy people.
Stage I: HIV disease is asymptomatic and not categorized as AIDS
Stage II: includes minor mucocutaneous manifestations and recurrent upper respiratory tract infections
Stage III: includes unexplained chronic diarrhea for longer than a
month, severe bacterial infections and pulmonary tuberculosis
Stage IV: includes toxoplasmosis of the brain, candidiasis of the
esophagus, trachea, bronchi or lungs and Kaposis sarcoma; these diseases are indicators of AIDS.
Approximately half of those infected with HIV do not know
their HIV status until an AIDS diagnosis is made with an HIV test. Donor blood and blood products used in medicine and medical research
are screened for HIV using such a test. Typical HIV tests, including
the HIV enzyme immunoassay and the Western blot assay, detect HIV antibodies in serum, plasma, oral fluid, dried blood spot or urine
of patients. However, the window period (the time between initial infection and the development of detectable antibodies against the
infection) can vary. This is why it can take 6-12 months to seroconvert and test positive. Commercially available tests to
detect other HIV antigens, HIV-RNA, and HIV-DNA in order to detect
HIV infection prior to the development of detectable antibodies are available. For the diagnosis of HIV infection these assays are not
specifically approved, but are nonetheless routinely used in developed countries.
During a sexual act, only male or female condoms can reduce
the chances of infection with HIV and other STDs and the chances of
becoming pregnant. The best evidence to date indicates that condom use reduces the risk of heterosexual HIV transmission by
approximately 80%. The male latex condom, if used correctly without oil-based lubricants, is the single most efficient available
technology to reduce the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
Medical workers who follow universal precautions or body substance isolation such as wearing latex gloves when giving
injections and washing the hands frequently can help prevent infection of HIV.
All AIDS-prevention organizations advise drug-users not to share needles and other material required to prepare and take
drugs (including syringes, cotton balls, the spoons, water for diluting the drug, straws, crack pipes, etc). It is important that
people use new or properly sterilized needles for each injection. Information on cleaning needles using bleach is available from
health care and addiction professionals and from needle exchanges. Many nations have decriminalized needle possession and made it
possible to buy injection equipment from pharmacists without a prescription.
There is currently no vaccine against HIV or AIDS, the only
known methods of prevention are based on avoiding exposure to the
virus or, failing that, on antiviral treatment directly after a highly significant exposure. Also, not a single case has been
documented in which systemic HIV infection has been cured and even
on the theoretical level, no plausible way of eradicating HIV infection has so far been found. Treatment for HIV can suppress
viral replication to a degree sufficient to apparently stop disease
progression, but success is critically dependent on the patients ability to keep perfect adherence to their drug schedule, which many
people will fail to achieve. Also, modern combination therapy has been around for merely ten years, so it is not presently known
whether treatment failure or inacceptable long-term side effects can be avoided in the majority even of perfectly compliant patients over
a time-span of potentially many decades. However, it is known that without major medical and scientific breakthroughs, HIV will
not have any problem surviving combination therapy for said decades. Still, in western countries, most patients survive many years
following diagnosis because of the availability of the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). In the absence of HAART,
progression from HIV infection to AIDS occurs at a median of between
nine to ten years and the median survival time after developing AIDS is only 9.2 months. HAART dramatically increases the time from
diagnosis to death, and treatment research continues. Current optimal HAART options consist of combinations (or
"cocktails") consisting of at least three drugs belonging to at least two types, or "classes," of
anti-retroviral agents. Typical regimens consist of two nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) plus either a
protease inhibitor or a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI). This treatment is frequently referred to as HAART
(highly-active anti-retroviral therapy).
Anti-retroviral treatments, along with medications
intended to prevent AIDS-related opportunistic infections, have played a part in delaying complications associated with AIDS,
reducing the symptoms of HIV infection, and extending patients life spans. Over the past decade the success of these treatments in
prolonging and improving the quality of life for people with AIDS has improved dramatically.
Various forms of alternative medicine have been used to try to treat symptoms or to try to affect the course of the disease
itself, although none are a substitute for conventional treatment.
AIDS stigma exists around the world in a variety of ways,
including ostracism, rejection, discrimination and avoidance of HIV infected people; compulsory HIV testing without prior consent or
protection of confidentiality; violence against HIV infected individuals or people who are perceived to be infected with HIV.
Often, AIDS stigma is expressed in conjunction with one or more other stigmas, particularly those associated with homosexuality,
bisexuality, and intravenous drug use, and the quarantine of HIV infected individuals. Those most likely to hold misconceptions about
HIV transmission and to harbor HIV/AIDS stigma are people with high
levels of religiosity, conservative political ideology and less educated people.
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations said,
"Stigma remains the single most important barrier to public action. It is a main reason why
too many people are afraid to see a doctor to determine whether they have the disease, or to seek treatment if so. It helps make AIDS the
silent killer, because people fear the social disgrace of speaking about
it, or taking easily available precautions. Stigma is a chief reason why
the AIDS epidemic continues to devastate societies around the world. We can fight stigma. Enlightened laws and policies are key. But it begins
with openness, the courage to speak out. Schools should teach respect and understanding. Religious leaders should preach tolerance. The media
should condemn prejudice and use its influence to advance social change,
from securing legal protections to ensuring access to health care."
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has been conferred with the honor of being the
Goodwill Ambassador for UNAIDS. on September 25, 2012. The agency aims to use her services to
educate young women and eradicate new HIV infections by 2015. This is the first big global assignment that the former beauty queen has signed
up for, since she became a mother.
Statistics from UNAIDS
* According to latest statistics from
UNAIDS, 33.3 million people are battling HIV worldwide, of which 2.5 million are children.
* Majority of HIV victims belong to lower and middle-income countries.
* 50% of victims are youth; statistics show that most do not live beyond 10 years following diagnosis.
* 2.5 million HIV+ individuals reside in India and Tamilnadu is home to about 1.7 lakh victims.
* Despite the awareness about protection before sex, 60% female sex workers in China do not use condoms with clients.
* Education about HIV-AIDS is imperative as nearly one in three
people escape diagnosis of the condition.
WHO Progress Report on HIV/AIDS
According to the WHO Progress Report on HIV/AIDS in South-East Asia 2011, an estimated 3.5 million people were living with HIV/AIDS in 2010,
including 140,000 children. Women accounted for 37 per cent of this population.
Between 2001 and 2010, the number of people newly infected with HIV declined sharply by 34 percent in South-East Asia that includes India,
Pakistan , Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal, among others.
According to the WHO, with the expansion of facilities providing testing
and counselling services, approximately 16 million people have been tested for HIV across the region.
Road to AIDS 2012
2012 International AIDS Conference will be held next summer in
Washington, D.C. The meeting hasn’t been to the United States since 1990 and returned thanks to the Obama Administration
lifting the ban on HIV- positive people visiting the country.