Sunday, May 20, 2007

What You Need To Know About Aids

AIDS is the fifth leading cause of death among persons between ages 25 to 44 in the United States. About 60 million people worldwide have been infected with HIV since the start of the epidemic. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes AIDS. The virus attacks the immune system and leaves the body vulnerable to a variety of life-threatening infections and cancers.

The growing impact of AIDS in Africa, Asia and Latin America has prompted the United Nations World Food Program to appeal to donor countries to fund food and nutrition for those afflicted.

The symptoms of AIDS are primarily the result of infections that do not normally develop in individuals with healthy immune systems. These are called opportunistic infections.

Patients with AIDS have had their exempt structure depleted by HIV and are really vulnerable to such opportunistic infections. Common symptoms are fevers, sweats (especially at night), bloated glands, chills, failing, and weight loss.

Transmission of the virus occurs. The three main ways HIV is passed to a very young child are:

While the baby develops in the mother's uterus (intrauterine)

At the time of birth

During breastfeeding

Among teens, the virus is most commonly spread through high-risk behaviors including:

Unprotected sexual intercourse (oral, vaginal, or anal sex)

Sharing needles used to inject drugs or other substances (including contaminated needles used for injecting steroids and tattooing and body art)

In very rare cases, HIV has also been transmitted by direct contact with an open wound of an infected person (the virus may be introduced through a small cut or tear on the body of the healthy person) and through blood transfusions. Since 1985, the U.S. blood supply has been carefully screened for HIV.

Tests for HIV have become cheaper and more obtainable for governments, but this has unfortunately lead to standalone HIV testing programs that the Human Rights Watch has criticized for being coercive, discriminatory, lacking in confidentiality and deficient in prevention information.