What is AIDS?

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. It belongs to the group of viruses known as retroviruses.

Once inside the body, the virus begins to destroy or damage the cells of the body’s immune system.

The body tries to cope by making new cells, but eventually HIV progressively reduces the body’s ability to fight infections and some types of cancer.

The structure of the virus has been researched and studied extensively, and ongoing new research has helped scientists develop new methods of treating AIDS.

Although all human immunodeficiency viruses are similar, small changes or mutations in their genetic material create viruses that are drug resistant.

Greater variations in viral genes have been found in some different subtypes. Currently, HIV-1 is the predominant subtype of the virus that causes AIDS.

What are the symptoms?

Many of those infected do not know that they are carriers of the HIV virus. Usually, the number of HIV positive people who know they are infected is about 20% of all new infections.

A large proportion of HIV positive people do not show symptoms after initial infection with the virus.

The most common symptoms are very similar to those of the flu, starting a few days to a few weeks after exposure to the virus. The initial symptoms are expressed in:

  • Subfebrile temperature;
  • Headache and fatigue;
  • Rashes and sore throat;
  • Increased lymph nodes in the neck area;
  • A characteristic feature of primary HIV infection is the appearance of sores or ulcers in the mouth ;

These symptoms usually disappear within a few weeks. After that, the infected person feels normal and has no symptoms.

This asymptomatic phase often lasts for years. The progression of the disease varies widely in the individual infected.

This stage of HIV infection can last from a few months to 10 or more years. During this period, the virus continues to multiply and actively infects and destroys the cells of the immune system.

The virus destroys that initially begin to fight infections when they enter the body – a type of white blood cell called CD4 cells. Although the patient has no symptoms, he is infected and can transmit the HIV virus.

AIDS is HIV infection in a more advanced stage, when the body begins to lose its ability to fight infections. When the CD4 cell count is below a certain minimum, then the HIV positive condition is referred to as AIDS.

Sometimes a diagnosis of AIDS is made when a person has unusual infections or cancers that indicate a severely weakened immune system.

Infections that develop with the AIDS virus are called opportunistic because they take advantage of the opportunity to infect a person with a weakened immune system.

When diagnosed with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, it may be necessary to prescribe prophylactic antibiotic therapy to prevent opportunistic infections.

Treatment of AIDS

In recent years, several drugs have become available to fight both HIV infection and related infections and cancers.

Treatment with these medications is called highly active antiretroviral therapy, and HIV-related complications and deaths have decreased as a result. However, these medications do not cure HIV.

In one case, a patient being treated for cancer was cured of HIV by a stem cell transplant, but stem cell therapy is not recommended for AIDS treatment because of the high risk of death and the possibility of transplant failure.


Another case is of an infant who was aggressively treated 30 hours after birth with antiretroviral medications and is now considered cured. But these are isolated cases.

The combination of three drugs is recommended to suppress the replication of the virus and to stimulate the immune system. Some of the different classes of drugs that are used in antiretroviral therapy are:

Inhibitors of reverse transcriptase – these drugs inhibit the ability of the virus to multiply. The following are examples of such drugs:

  • Nucleoside or nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors /NRTIs/ – include some of the following drugs – zidovudine, didazonine, stavudine, etc.
  • Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors transcriptase /NNRTIs/ – are usually used with NRTIs to prevent the virus from multiplying. Examples of NNRTIs are: efavirenz, nevarapine, delarvidin and etravirine. The newest drug in this class is rilpivirine.

In most cases, therapy is prescribed with the intake of two NRTIs and one NNRTI daily, and for convenience there are tablets containing both medicines. Thus, the therapy can be carried out with the intake of only one pill per day.

Protease inhibitors – interrupt viral replication at a later stage of the virus’ life cycle. Examples of such drugs are: ritonavir, saquinavir, indinavir sulfate, etc.

How to protect yourself from AIDS?

  • Abstinence from sex and abstinence: Abstaining from sexual activities is the surest way to prevent AIDS, especially if you are not with your safe sex partner or do not use condoms. Abstinence can also be chosen as a strategy for young people who are not ready for sexual relationships.

  • Monogamy and choice of sexual partner: If you decide to have sexual relations, it is important to be monogamous with one partner who you are sure is not infected with HIV or other AIDS-related infections. Mutual monogamy reduces the risk of infection.

  • Condom use: Using latex condoms during sexual activities can provide a high level of protection against AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections if used correctly and consistently. Follow the instructions for proper condom insertion and removal and use it from beginning to end of intercourse.

  • Tests and regular medical checkups: Regular HIV tests are important, especially if you are sexually active or engage in risky behaviors. Knowing your status allows you to take the necessary steps to protect yourself and others. Also, regular medical checkups can help you maintain optimal health and learn more about preventative measures.

  • Treatment and prevention during pregnancy and childbirth: If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant and are infected with HIV, it is important to consult your health professional. Treatment during pregnancy and appropriate antiretroviral therapy after delivery can significantly reduce the risk of transmission of the virus to the newborn baby. Likewise, avoiding breastfeeding in HIV-positive mothers and using replacement feeding helps protect children from infection.

  • Support and Education: It is important to have access to AIDS prevention information and resources. Education and understanding the risks and ways to protect yourself are key to your own and your sexual partner’s health status.

  • Avoid Sharing Needles and Syringes: If you inject drugs, avoid sharing needles and syringes with others as this can pose a high risk of transmission of HIV and other infections.

  • Sexual education and awareness: Participating in sexuality education and awareness can help you learn about risks and ways to protect yourself, as well as develop healthy sexual habits and communication skills. skills.

In the fight against AIDS, information and education play a critical role. Understanding how HIV is transmitted and how it can be prevented is essential not only for individuals but also for the entire community.

Educational and educational programs that aim to expand people’s knowledge and awareness about AIDS should be actively supported and encouraged.

Knowledge of the facts and the availability of resources to deal with AIDS provide the necessary basis for making informed decisions.

Health organizations, non-governmental organizations and educational institutions should continue their work to promote education and awareness campaigns about AIDS.

In conclusion, preventing AIDS requires information, responsible behavior and taking appropriate protective measures.

By following the above guidelines and consulting a health professional as needed, you can reduce your risk of infection and maintain good health.

Avoidance of risk behaviors and awareness are important steps to protecting yourself and your community from AIDS.

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