Write a short note on AIDS.
Modes of transmission of AIDS:
- Unsafe sexual contact: Including oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
- Blood: Through blood transfusions or needle sharing.
- From mother to child (Transplacental): A pregnant woman can transmit the virus to her fetus through their shared blood circulation, or a nursing mother can transmit it to her baby from her breast milk.
- Other methods of spreading the virus are rare and include accidental needle injury, artificial insemination with infected donated semen, and transplantation with infected organs.
- AIDS virus has been found in urine, tears, saliva, breast milk, and vaginal secretions but it seems not to be transmitted by these fluids unless it gets into injuries.
The clinical manifestations (symptoms) of AIDS have been classified into four broad categories.
- Initial infection with the virus and formation of antibodies, usually lasting for 2-8 weeks after the initial infection.
- Asymptomatic carrier state in which no signs of disease, are seen. The incubation period ranges from 6 months to 10 years.
- AIDS-related complex (ARC) with one or more of the following clinical signs; recurrent fever for longer than one month, fatigue, unexplained diarrhea, night sweats, shortness of breath, loss of more than 10 percent body weight, etc.
- AIDS is the end stage of HIV infection. It is characterized by life-threatening opportunistic infections (like pneumonia, tuberculosis, Kaposi’s sarcoma, etc.).
AIDS has no cure; hence prevention is the best choice. The following steps help in preventing AIDS:
- People, particularly those in a high–risk group, should be educated about HIV transmission.
- Disposable needles and syringes should be used and disposed of properly and immediately.
- Unsafe sexual habits should be changed.
- High-risk groups should refrain from donating blood.
- Toothbrushes, razors, other articles that can become contaminated with blood should not be shared.
- Before receiving blood, ensure that it has been screened for not containing HIV infections.
- Routine screening must be done for:
- Blood donors.
- Organ donors (kidney, liver, lung, cornea).
- Donors of semen and growth hormone.
- Patients undergoing haemodialysis and females in the high-risk group who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy.
i. At first, a test ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) is used to detect HIV antibodies.
ii. The second confirmatory test is usually a Western Blot. It is used to eliminate any false-positive results. It is a highly specific test and it is based on detecting specific antibodies to viral core protein and envelope glycoprotein.
Although AIDS has no cure, certain medicines called Antiretroviral drugs can help in reducing the viral load and prolong the life of HIV patients. e.g. TDF (Tenofovir), EFV(Efavirenz), Lamivudine (3TC), etc.
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