What is AIDS? How is AIDS Transmitted? What are the symptoms and treatment methods?
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, popularly known as AIDS, is a chronic, life-threatening disease caused by HIV infection. How is this virus transmitted, which harms the immune system? What are the symptoms and treatment methods?
AIDS is a syndrome that develops when HIV-positive people do not receive any treatment, the rate of some white blood cells in the blood reaches very low levels later in life, the immune system collapses and they become vulnerable to many diseases. other diseases and infections.
A healthy patient has 500-1600 CD4 cells per cubic millimeter of blood. This number drops to 0 in individuals who develop AIDS.
AIDS develops due to the HIV virus. However, not every HIV-positive person becomes AIDS. As long as it is treated, the probability of the disease reaching this stage is very low. It is possible to start treatment when AIDS develops in people, but an effective result can be obtained, as in the treatment that starts with early diagnosis.
What is HIV?
HIV is transmitted through blood or breast milk, semen, pre-ejaculatory fluid, vaginal and rectal fluids. Therefore, it is a virus with a high risk of transmission through sexual intercourse. After the virus enters the body, it has an acute attack within a month and then continues to multiply in the body if it is not treated. After the acute period, the disease can remain silent for 10-15 years and people do not show signs of the disease. However, people continue to transmit the disease during this period.
However, AIDS, the third and most advanced level of the disease, has not yet developed in these people. If left untreated, the disease progresses to the third stage and people's immune systems weaken, making them vulnerable to other infections and diseases.
For this reason, patients start drug treatment immediately after the infection is detected, so that they can continue their lives in a healthy way, get married and have children before the disease reaches the third stage.
How is AIDS Transmitted?
AIDS is spread when the body fluids of people infected with HIV enter the body of people who have not been in contact with the virus. The body fluids that are effective in the spread of the virus are listed as blood, sperm, vaginal secretions and breast milk.
Transmission through sexual intercourse;
80-85% of HIV virus transmissions occur through unprotected sexual intercourse. The virus, found in the sperm cell of the HIV-positive man and the vaginal secretion of the HIV-positive woman, enters the mucous membranes of the body, which is destroyed during sexual intercourse. In AIDS, sexual transmission can occur among all individuals who have unprotected sexual intercourse. Even a single unprotected relationship with an HIV-positive individual can lead to the development of AIDS.
Transmission by blood;
The HIV virus is found in the blood of infected patients and spreads as a result of the contact of healthy individuals with this blood. Transmission through blood usually occurs as a result of injury to instruments that come into contact with the blood of a sick person or contact of infected blood with skin or mucous fluids. It can be said that the group most at risk for this type of contamination is healthcare workers.
Transmission from mother to baby;
An infected mother can transmit the virus to her baby during pregnancy, during childbirth, or through breastfeeding after birth.
How Is AIDS Diagnosed?
The first test for diagnosis is the ELISA test. If the presence of HIV infection cannot be proven as a result of the examination with this test, the result is considered negative. If the ELISA test is positive, the test is repeated and if it is positive again, a confirmation test called Western blot is performed. If the confirmatory test is also positive, the person is diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
What Are the Symptoms of AIDS?
AIDS has many symptoms. Since these signs and symptoms are also seen in other diseases, it is absolutely necessary to go to a specialist in the field, perform the necessary examinations, and then make the correct diagnosis and start the treatment process. The most important symptoms of AIDS are:
- Rapid weight loss
- Relapsing fever
- Night sweats
- Extreme and unknown fatigue
- Enlargement of armpit, groin, or neck lymph nodes
- Sores in the mouth, anus, or genital area
- Lung infections
- Spotting on the skin, mouth, nose, or eyelids
- Loss of memory
- Neurological disorders
What Are the Symptoms of HIV Infection?
Some people develop flu-like symptoms 2-4 weeks after the onset of infection. This period is called acute HIV infection. These symptoms last for a few days or weeks. Symptoms in this period;
- To feel cold
- Skin rash
- Night sweats
- Muscle pains
- Throat ache
- Swelling in the lymph nodes
- Sores in the mouth
However, some people may not feel any symptoms during the acute phase of HIV infection. The presence of these symptoms should not in itself mean that there is HIV infection. These symptoms may also occur due to other diseases.
How Is AIDS Treated?
4 different types of drugs called Anti-Retroviral, which are effective against HIV in the retrovirus group, have been developed. These drugs function in different mechanisms of the body, and HIV treatment can be planned by using several of these drugs together.
There is no definite cure for HIV, so the virus cannot be completely destroyed in the body, but it can be controlled with drugs. The purpose of the treatment; to prevent the virus from reappearing. Thus, the probability of the virus developing many mutations that may be resistant to treatment is reduced.
With treatment, the value called viral load, which indicates the amount of virus in the blood, is minimized, the immune system is protected, and the quality of life and expectation of the HIV-positive person increases. Treatment also reduces the risk of transmission, as it reduces the amount of HIV virus.