HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, which belongs to the lentivirus family.
This retrovirus has RNA as genetic material. It transcribes DNA, which is a complimentary copy of RNA when it enters into the cell. New copies of RNA are produced by the DNA, which is used as a template.
HIV attacks the immune system of an individual. It destroys the cells which are involved in fighting against any infection and disease.
According to the World Health Organization, HIV is one of the major global public health issues. According to the survey done in 2019, 38 million people (36.2 million-adults, 1.8 million-children) worldwide were infected by HIV. Day by day, new infections of HIV are getting reduced but at a slow rate. According to the survey, it comes to light that 40% of the cases have been reduced across the world.
HIV can spread by the following:
1) When coming in contact with a person with HIV during unprotected sex, transfer of blood, semen, etc.
2) When using the same needle used a person with HIV.
3) During pregnancy, when the mother is carrying HIV, the baby’s chances to become infected with the virus are very high.
This virus causes a chronic and sexually-transmitted disease, AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), which is very fatal. It is not a congenital disease. AIDS is considered as the final stage of the HIV infection. There are no cures that have been discovered until now. Hence, AIDS patients are destined to die (within 6-10 years). So, in the case of AIDS, scientists recommend prevention only, and it has been rightly said that prevention is better than a cure when there is no cure.
The world got the first case of AIDS in 1981, and in the last 25 years or so, it has killed more than 25 million individuals across the world. In India, the first case of AIDS was reported in 1986 in Chennai.
AIDS is known as a retroviral disease.
The cell-mediated immune system is affected by this disease. The reduction of the CD4 cell of T lymphocytes, which is responsible for the production of cytokines, chemotactic factors, macrophages, and other cells involved in the body’s immunity, has been observed in this disease.
AIDS can be transmitted through the exchange of blood, semen, vaginal secretion, etc. by a person who has AIDS, from mother to fetus by the placenta, from mother to infant through colostrum during breastfeeding, through unprotected sex with an infected person, and by sharing needles with the infected person.
Many misconceptions circulate in society about AIDS, which generally destroy the patient’s social life. It spreads through touching, shaking hands, coughing, sneezing, looking after a person infected by AIDS, mosquito bites, hugging, sharing meals, and kissing.
The true symptoms are bouts of fever, weight loss, diarrhea, multiple opportunistic infections (other viral, bacterial, fungal), swollen lymph nodes, neurological complications, etc.
AIDS can be investigated by the ELISA test (Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). In this test, we use the peroxidase enzyme and alkaline phosphatase enzyme. This test is a very quick AIDS diagnostic technique. Therefore, it’s mostly used around the world.
Don’t lose your life; stay away from HIV. This is said because there is no cure yet discovered. Treatments can prolong the life of a person who has AIDS, but can’t cure them. So, prevention is the best and only option.