AIDS / HIV
What are HIV and AIDS?
Over the last fifteen years a
new disease spread by a family of viruses, HIV has spread
globally. HIV stands for Human lmmuno-deficiency Virus.
HIV has been given
this name because its long-term effect is to attack the immune
system of the body, making it weak and deficient. We live
virtually in a sea of microorganisms and at every moment an
enormous number of them are entering our body. It is the immune
system that normally fights off these microorganisms and keeps us
healthy. Any compromise with the working of the immune system has
profound effect on our body.
After about 5 to 10 years of contracting the HIV infection, the
virus has weakened the immune system of the patients so much that
they develop a number of different illnesses such as tuberculosis,
pneumonia, persistent diarrhea, fever and skin infections. This
condition is called AIDS Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.
Why do you need to
know about it?
At the moment it is estimated that 13 million people in the
world may have HIV. Every day there are thousands of new cases of
HIV infections in the world and these occur in every country.
People who have HIV may have no symptoms for many years, and
infected people may not even be aware that they have the virus.
They look and feel well, but can infect other people during this
The most difficult aspect of HIV/AIDS is that though there are
medicines, which can help them, cope with these illnesses, there
is no vaccine, and no cure for the HIV, so almost all the infected
people become more and more ill and eventually die. It is
important that we all know and understand about this infection, so
we can protect our families and ourselves.
We have responsibility not only towards ourselves but also towards
our children who are growing up in a very different world from
that of our childhood. They will have many new opportunities, but
also may sometimes be faced with new relationships, standards of
behavior and new risks. It is up to us to explain the truth of the
situation to them in an honest and informed way, so they may have
the knowledge to take the necessary steps to protect their health.
We have to understand that presently prevention is the only cure
of HIV/AIDS and that can come about only if we are adequately
informed about it. Following are some frequently asked questions
How does HIV
affect the body? Is it the same as AIDS?
When HIV gets into
a persons blood it attaches itself to a special type of white
blood cells called as helper T-Lymphocytes. These Helper T-cells
are crucial in defending the body against many infections. During
all this the persons have no symptoms at all. They look and feel
well. They may not know they now have the virus, but could pass it
on to someone else through having sex, or by sharing needles or
Special care has
to be taken for the pregnant woman having HIV and the newborn baby
of such mothers. The scenario is very pathetic due to the growing
morbidity and mortality associated with AIDS.