All about HIV and AIDS: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Posted On Jan 23, 2023

4 Min Read

Dr. Ankita Baidya

Consultant - Infectious Diseases

Dwarka - Delhi

HIV AIDS Treatment In Delhi

December 1st is observed as World AIDS Day. This day is observed as a day of creating awareness around the severity of the disease and educating people at risk about the ways and means of preventive care and precautions to observe in case they do test positive for the disease.

What is AIDS?

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is what AIDS is short for. It is not a disease per se, but rather a syndrome. A syndrome is a group of signs or symptoms that are indicative of illness. Immunodeficiency is a condition where the immunity of the body is lowered and the system, therefore, becomes prone to infections. 

What causes AIDS and How?

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is an acquired condition, caused by an infection of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV. HIV is a retrovirus that attacks the immune cells of the body and weakens the immune system. A weakened immune system is easy prey for infections and thus a person suffering from HIV infection is easily affected by other microbial infections be it bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. Thus, it is not the viral infection itself that proves to be fatal for the sufferer, but rather the fall of all defenses of the body against infections which eventually leads to death.

What are the possible infection routes?

AIDS can be spread by various means, wherever direct contact with body fluids is involved.This World's AIDS Day in Delhi, lets discuss a few important aspects of this contagious disease, how it spreads, and how to prevent contracting it. HIV infection can be contracted by various means or routes:

1. Sexual Contact

All sexual intercourse without physical protection can lead to body fluid exchange between those involved. Therefore, this is considered one means of spread for the virus.

2. Transfer of virus from the mother to the fetus

When a woman is carrying a child in her womb, if she contracts HIV, the virus can enter the unborn child through the mother’s placenta. If a person suffering from HIV infection conceives a child or gets pregnant that is, then also there is a high possibility of the child getting the infection. Body fluid exchange often happens during delivery as well as the amniotic sac or water breaks and the baby comes out of the mother’s body through the birthing canal.

3. Breastfeeding

If an infected woman breastfeeds her child, then also, there is sharing of body fluids. Milk is a body fluid made in the body of the mother. If the mother is infected, the virus can spread through her milk to the child she feeds

4. Blood transfusions

In case of blood transfusions carried out without proper screening of blood samples, if an infected sample is given to someone, chances are the virus would spread to the other person receiving the blood.

5. Sharing needles

Often people involved in drug abuse use needles, or there are places where safe medical practices are not followed and needles used for body art may be used repeatedly on multiple people. All these malpractices can lead to the spreading of infection from one infected individual to another individual. 

What are the symptoms of AIDS?

If you are someone who works in an environment where there are chances of infections, or if you know people who are living at risk of contracting the infection. Here are some signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • Unexplained Fever

  • Recurrent Headache

  • Muscle Aches and Joint Pain

  • Rashes

  • Sore throat and Painful Mouth Sores.

  • Swollen Lymph Glands (mainly around the neck)

  • Diarrhea

  • Weight loss

  • Cough

  • Night sweats

  • Sweats

  • Chills

  • Chronic diarrhea

  • Persistent White Spots (or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth).

  • Persistent, Unexplained fatigue

  • Weakness

  • Weight loss

  • Skin rashes or bumps

Incubation Period

The symptoms can vary in individuals over the span of time. Many individuals do not show any noticeable symptoms for a long while, as the incubation period for the virus ranges from 9 months to 20 years, at a 12-year median value, often individuals get tested much later.  The initial manifestation of the HIV infection is usually an increase in the frequency of contacting minor infections, as the infection progresses, the body loses its ability to fight off infections. With this lost ability to defend the body against infections, the body becomes an easy host to invade for all kinds of infections. 

Preventive Care

The best way to take care of your health is to prevent and protect against infections. Knowing the infection routes discussed by infectious disease specialist In Delhi we now know that the best way to prevent is:

  1. Practice safe sex

For the best interest of yourself and your partner, practice safe sex with adequate, medically approved physical barriers.

  1. Seek medical advice on conception

For an infected individual planning a child, proper medical advice and care are a must to prevent passing on the infection to the unborn child.

  1. Ensure good medical practices 

Whenever going for a blood transfusion, body art, or other procedures where needles or other physical equipment interact with the body, make sure the place follows strict medical practices and hygiene.

  1. No drug abuse or needle sharing

Drug abuse is bad for health, irrespective of the infection. One should always abstain from any kind of drug abuse and try to live a healthy lifestyle.

  1. Regular Screening

In case you work with infected individuals, or high risk individuals or are a person at risk, it is best to seek medical care at the earliest. Regular blood tests can help detect the infection and help you plan your life with the infection with minimized harm. 

Department of Infectious Disease

Manipal Hospitals, Delhi

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