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The HIV AIDS Virus Alert

Dr Nalin Nag

 
BE AWARE: AIDS kills
This is something you have more control over than an unexpected terrorist attack - HIV AIDS – an infectious disease which causes progressive decline in the body’s immune system, making it incapable of fighting common infections.

This results in life threatening illnesses as well as death. Be aware – HIV AIDS is the most severe infectious disease epidemic of the modern era.

BE SAFE: How HIV AIDS is transmitted
  • Unprotected sex - Use a condom and be faithful. Don’t spread the virus consciously.
  • Transfusion of infected blood and blood products - All pregnant women must be checked for HIVAIDS and must avoid breastfeeding (antiretroviral medicines are a good call during this period).
  • Infected needles - Make sure your injection needles are properly sterilized before usage, and also that the needle is disposed in sealed containers after use. In case of accidental exposure, preventive antiretroviral drugs can be taken for specified weeks to avoid transmission. Be careful while getting tattoos too. Don’t trust just about anyone. Be safe. HIV is not transmitted by casual contact like shaking hands, hugging, kissing, sharing clothes, food, utensils, mosquitoes and flies etc. There is absolutely no reason to isolate and segregate people with HIV.
Signs and Symptoms of HIV

30 to 50 percent patients develop acute retroviral illness two to four weeks after getting the infection. Fever, muscular pain, sore throat, enlargement of lymph glands, rash and/or neurological symptoms are the first signs of illness (these usually improve by two to three weeks and there are no symptoms for the next seven to eight years).
If not treated, symptoms of HIV AIDS like fever, weight loss, glandular enlargement, oral ulcers and skin rashes, fungal infections of mouth, food pipe, recurrent pneumonia and uro-genital infection occur in future. As HIV AIDS advances, more serious infections like toxoplasmosis of brain, disseminated tuberculosis and different types of cancers and neurological diseases occur. The most common associated infection with HIV is tuberculosis - TB which could be pulmonary (lungs) or extra pulmonary (outside lungs). If not treated, death occurs in 10 years. Treatment of HIV by using antiretroviral drugs keeps a close check on the progression of infection and disease.
 
Diagnosis
Any person with the risk of having HIV infection should have a blood test called HIV ELISA. The test usually becomes positive in four to six weeks of acquiring the infection and remains positive subsequently. Pre test counseling and post test counseling is a must to all undergoing the test. Chances are, the test may be falsely positive or negative, and therefore should be repeated two or three times before the diagnosis is confirmed. Early diagnosis can be made by PCR test in certain cases. HIV ELISA test is a must for individuals with symptoms of HIV AIDS and STD, pregnant women and TB patients.

There is an increasing realization for premarital testing of HIV.
 
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