The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is said to have its origin in D.R. Congo in Central Africa. A form of the virus is said to exist in Chimpanzee as Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV); if this is the case, then, man (hunter) must have gotten the virus on killing the chimpanzee for meat and his (hunter’s) open wound came in contact with the infected blood of the chimpanzee.
It is said that the virus then mutated into HIV in the human body thus starting the spread in human population.
The virus may have been around for a very long time but gained prominence which has remained till today in the 1970s.
Today, HIV/AIDS is a global problem though prevalence level varies widely from country/region to country/region.
There are about 35 million people living with HIV globally with about 68 percent of this number in Sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa/Southern Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV, followed by East Africa, Central Africa and West Africa.
The age group most affected is 15-24 years.
1. HIV means Human Immunodeficiency Virus
HIV means Human Immunodeficiency Virus. When it enters the human body it attacks the body defense system particularly the cells called CD4 or T-cells. The virus reproduces itself while destroying these cells. With the destruction of these cells, our ability to defend ourselves against infections and other diseases diminishes until no defense ability is left. When this happens; opportunistic infections and diseases set leading to AIDS
2. AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome; a syndrome in this case could be said to be a collection of diseases traceable to a common cause, HIV. This is slightly different from the typical definition of syndrome in medicine.
In the case of AIDS, the syndrome consists of a collection of opportunistic infections such tuberculosis, pneumonia, severe weight loss (wasting), dementia, lymphoma and some other types of cancer.
3. HIV infection may or may not lead to AIDS
Not all HIV infections progress to AIDS. The amount of virus has be heavy in the body (Viral load) and the number of self-defense cells (CD4 or T-cells) very low for the infection to progress to AIDS.
The viral load can be reduced and put in check by anti-retroviral drugs.
4. It spreads through certain body fluids
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus is prevent in the vaginal fluid, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluid, blood and breast milk of an infected person. It can therefore pass from an infected person to someone else during any act that involves the body fluids mentioned above: vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex, deep open-mouth kissing, breast feeding, blood transfusion, organ transplant, pregnancy/delivery etc.
5. Symptoms of HIV infection include fever, sore throat.
Many people infected by HIV show no symptoms for up to about ten years but could in these years be able to spread the virus; some show symptoms within 2-4 weeks of being infected. The symptoms include fever, enlarged lymph nodes, sore throat and rash. However, these symptoms are so common with several other infections that we should not be scared if we notice them rather, we should go for test immediately.
6. Diagnosis of HIV/AIDS is based on examination and tests.
Diagnosis of HIV infection is only by laboratory tests as its symptoms are so similar to those of several other infections. There are several centres for HIV tests in any country since it is a global problem. Some kits are available for home-testing but confirmation must be by a professional.
AIDS can be diagnosed by examination by a doctor followed laboratory tests to confirm HIV infection and the opportunistic infections which make up the syndrome.
7. The infection/disease has no cure.
As of today, HIV infection has no cure but drugs are available for its treatment; these drugs can reduce the amount of virus in the body to such a level that the infected person can live his full life.
8. HIV/AIDS is preventable.
HIV/AIDS can be prevented through appropriate lifestyle, early diagnosis and treatment. Appropriate lifestyle prevents HIV infection, early diagnosis and treatment prevent progression of HIV infection to AIDS and finally appropriate treatment of AIDS can prevent or delay death.