Human Immunodeficiency Virus

Virtually all people in the world are armed with knowledge of the AIDS pandemic. This includes even the young children, as several world governments have introduced the subject to educate the children on the dangers of AIDS in their educational curricular. The reason why it is well known is because up to date there is no known cure of the disease. Frantic efforts from the medical researchers have been of average help though they have never gotten the cure. However, the scientists have not given up on the search of the cure.  AIDS is caused by a biological pathogen referred to as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (Web Md, 2009). The virus has got its own unique characteristics and specific ways of transmission from one person to the other. Additionally, it affects the body systems, which is clearly revealed by the diseases symptoms. All the same, it can be easy to manage the disease if at all it is diagnosed early, so as to offer the best prevention and treatment measures.

Characteristics of the HIV Virus
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks the human bodys defense system, or the immune system. The infection that the virus causes is also referred to as HIV. It is a very strong virus because it completely invades and destroys specific white blood cells referred to as CD4 cells. If too many of the CD4 cells are brought to destruction, the human body immune system weakens. As a result, other infections affect the body at will, as the natural defense system is low.

In genetics, the HIV virus is commonly referred to as the HIV-1. Like all other retroviruses it has several features as far as genetics is concerned. It has an enzyme which is referred to as reverse transcriptase. This enzyme has the ability of transcribing viral genomic RNA into a linear DNA and double stranded molecule. This molecule is later integrated into the host genome through the action of the virally encoded intergrase (IN) to produce the DNA provirus.

 The HIV viruses are of very many types. There has been emergence of several subtypes in the U.S., other than the HIV-1 subtype B in the U.S. The different HIV-1 genotypes have been tested several times so as to facilitate the HIV-1 resistance testing (Jagodzinski, Cooley, Weber  Michael, 2002).

Transmission of the Virus
AIDS is transmitted through contact with vaginal fluids, blood and semen. The major mode of transmission of the HIV Aids virus is through having unprotected sex with people who are infected. The other way in which the virus can be transmitted is through sharing drug needles with people who have been infected. The virus can also be transmitted from a mother to a baby during birth, pregnancy or breast feeding. It is impossible for the HIVAIDS virus to survive outside the body. Therefore, the virus cannot spread through casual contacts like sharing drinking glasses or kissing with a person who is infected.

Effects on the body system
The HIV virus is like an opening to all kinds of infections in the body of a human being. Once a person has acquired the virus, he or she can be attacked by any disease as the natural defense system of the body is weakened once the CD4-positive help T cells are infected. Once the immune system is destroyed, the infected person develops infections commonly known as opportunistic infections. Some of these infections include Pneumocystis pneumonia, tuberculosis, Kaposis sarcoma and candidiasis. Apart from attacking the physiological functions of a humans body, the infected people also go through a lot of rejection, especially on some communities which regard the sickness as a curse. This leads to a low self esteem, and may even lead to depression if the patient does not receive counseling at the early stages (EP Session, 2009).

Symptoms of the virus
When a person is infected with the HIV virus, he or she may not get the symptoms immediately. The symptoms come when the condition has deteriorated. At this stage, the situation is referred to as AIDS. The early symptoms include fevers, skin rashes, sore throat, swollen glands, headaches and muscle aches (Web Md, 2009). The symptoms appear several weeks after the first infection. The early symptoms go away within the first two to three weeks. After the first symptoms go away, the infected person may not get the symptoms, until after some years. If there is no treatment administered, the virus continues to grow slowly, and later attacks the immune system. At some point, the symptoms reappear, which normally include night sweat, swollen lymph nodes, fever, extreme tiredness and weigh loss. Treatment administered is only meant to keep the virus under control and to boost the immune system (Web Md, 2009).

Diagnosis of the virus
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. has in the past approved tests which detect the antibodies of HIV in the blood, urine and mouth fluids. If the oral fluids and urine reveal that one has a HIV infection, a blood test is necessary for the results confirmation. If one is exposed to HIV, the bodys immune system makes the antibodies destroy the virus. The blood tests are efficient as they find all the antibodies in the blood. The Blood tests diagnosis is of two types, the Western Blot Assay and the ELISA tests. If the ELISA test is positive, it means that there were HIV antibodies which are present in the blood. In this case, the blood is sampled again. If the second test comes out positive, the doctor repeats the test using the Western Blot so as to ascertain the results (Web Md, 2009).

However, the first test is not always the last one. This is because it takes six months for the HIV antibodies to be revealed in the blood samples. It is always advisable for a person who thinks is infected and tests negative to get the tests done again after six months. Additionally, people are advised to take precaution so as to ensure that they have responsible sexual behavior. The testing is done in Planned Parenthood clinics, doctors offices, hospitals and public health clinics. One can also buy a HIV test kit in any drug store so as to test at home. Extreme care should be taken so as to ensure that only the tests which are approved by the U.S. government are used. If the results turn out positive at home, the person is always advised to test again in a hospital (Web Md, 2009).

Prevention and Treatment of HIVAIDS
The treatment for HIV is a combination of very many types of medicine referred to as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) (Web Md, 2009). The antiretroviral medicine slows the rate which the virus multiplies. Taking the medicine reduces the levels of the virus in the body. They also help the person to stay healthy. It is not easy to decide the most appropriate time to start treatment. For treatment to start, the doctor should do some tests, which include the viral load, which is meant to reveal the amount of virus in the patients blood. The other test is the CD4 cell count, which shows how well the bodys immune system is working. If one has no symptoms, and the count of the CD4 cells is healthy, treatment is not necessary. However, if there are symptoms, treatment should start immediately, depending on the CD4 cell count (Web Md, 2009).

Immediately treatment starts, the person is advised to continually take all the medicine as directed by his or her doctor. When treatment fails to work, it means that the HIV is resistant to the treatment (Web Md, 2009).

Treatment of HIV has become more manageable in the recent days. This is because the public has received general awareness. Medical researchers have also come up with better drugs for boosting the immune systems of the infected people. There is a new combination of medicine, which includes three or two different types of medicine put in one pill (Web Md, 2009). Several people who are infected take one or two pills each day. Treatment is also accompanied by restrictions. The HIV infected people are not supposed to smoke, as they are more prone to lung cancer and heart attack. Additionally, all the infected persons are supposed to eat a balanced and a healthy diet so as to keep the body immune system strong at all times. Alcohol and drugs also pose a risk to the HIV infected persons. Regular exercises are also important so as to reduce stress, therefore improving the quality of life (Web Md, 2009).

Prevention of the HIV Virus
There are precautionary measures which people can take so as to avoid being infected by the disease. Since the major mode of transmission of the virus is through unsafe sex, all people are advised to practice safe sex. Using a condom is very important for all people, especially if partners are unsure of the status of their partners. Additionally, all people should be conscious of the sexual partners they have at a certain time (Web Md, 2009). One should not have more than one sexual partner. The safest sex is that which involves only one partner. For people who are having sex for their first time, it is important to talk about ones status so as to avoid the risk of getting infected. It is also important to avoid sharing personal item with other people, such as towels, razor blades and toothbrushes. If one attends a clinic, he or she should ensure that the methods used when administering injections are safe. This is because sharing syringes and needles also poses a great threat to the people. It is also advisable not to take drugs and alcohol before having sex. This is because one may practice irresponsible sexual behavior (Web Md, 2009).

From the discussion above, it is evident that the HIV virus is a risk to the world. Therefore, the world governments should sensitize all people to get tested so that they can live positive lives, whether they are infected or not. Additionally, the non-governmental organizations should continue with the fight against HIV, even as the researchers continue with the hard work of finding a possible HIVAIDS cure.


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