Posted On Jan 23, 2023
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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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
Muscle Aches and Joint Pain
Sore throat and Painful Mouth Sores.
Swollen Lymph Glands (mainly around the neck)
Persistent White Spots (or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth).
Persistent, Unexplained fatigue
Skin rashes or bumps
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.
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:
For the best interest of yourself and your partner, practice safe sex with adequate, medically approved physical barriers.
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.
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.
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.
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