HIV is theHuman Immunodeficiency Virus. If you have HIV you have an infection that damages your immune system overtime and causes AIDS. AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. It is the final stage of an HIV infection when your immune system is damaged and too weak to fight off ordinary infections.
When foreign invaders such as, bacteria, and viruses get into your body. They can cause infections; these events activate your body’s defenses. The white blood cells of your immune system are part of your body's defenses. One type of white blood cell called Helper T-lymphocytes or Helper T-cells strengthen your immune system's response to infection in two ways.
First, Helper T cells release chemicals that attract other white blood cells to the site of the infection. These additional white blood cells attacked the invading bacteria or virus, as well as other infected cells.
Second, Helper T cells release chemicals that cause other white blood cells to multiply. These new white blood cells create markers called antibodies which can identify the same foreign invader throughout your body. Antibodies attach to the bacteria or virus marking them as targets for your immune system to destroy them.
If you have HIV, it travels through your blood and other body fluids to infect and kill certain white blood cells. The virus enters helper T-cells which are the primary target and once inside the virus makes many copies of itself.
As these virus particles are made, they leave the damaged helper T-cell to infect other cells. The T-cell loses its ability to protect the body from the ongoing infection and odds. In this way HIV spreads and kills more of your helper T-cells weakening your immune system.
As a result other types of infections are able to take advantage of your body's inability to defend itself.
These infections are called Opportunistic Infections. If you have an HIV infection and one or more opportunistic infections you have AIDS!
Some other common AIDS-related opportunistic infections are;
- Inflammation of the tissues covering your brain and spinal cord called meningitis.
- Inflammation of your brain called encephalitis.
- Respiratory illnesses such as, pneumonia and tuberculosis.
- Intestinal illnesses such as, chronic diarrhea caused by infectious parasites.
- Cancers such as Kaposi’s sarcoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
HIV passes from person to person through infected body fluids, HIV can enter your body;
- During unprotected sex.
- Sharing drug injection needles.
- During your own child birth while breastfeeding from your mother.
- Or from contaminated blood or blood products.
Although there is no cure for HIV, drugs called anti-retroviral medications can reduce the amount of HIV in your body. One class of anti-retroviral medication called entry or fusion inhibitors disrupts the HIV infection process by preventing the virus from attaching to you own cells.
Other classes of anti-retroviral medications include reverse transcriptase inhibitors, protease inhibitors and integrase inhibitors.
These drugs prevent the creation, assembly and spread of new viruses. A doctor may prescribe a combination of these drug classes known as Highly Active Anti-retroviral Therapy or HAART
Anti-retroviral medication doesn't completely remove HIV from your body but slows it down enough to enable your immune system to fight infections.
Regular blood tests will let your doctor know how effective your anti-retroviral medication is in controlling HIV. If the number of helper T cells is high enough in your blood sample your medication is working.
Treatments for the opportunistic infections of AIDS are medications specific for each type of infection. For example, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you have pneumonia or tuberculosis.
To avoid getting or spreading HIV infection, check your HIV status and your partner status by getting tested regularly. The most effective way to prevent HIV infection is to avoid vaginal and anal sex when engaging in sexual activity.
- You’ll be less likely to contract HIV if you only have sex with one uninfected partner or use latex condoms for protection.
- Avoid using injectable illegal drugs or sharing drug needles because the needles may have the virus on them.
Also, this one is common thing happen for alcoholic; avoid intoxication from drugs or alcohol because you will be more likely to engage in unsafe sexual behavior.