Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to fight infection and disease.
In the United States, it’s estimated that 1.2 million people are living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS; this includes more than 12,000 children under age 13 who have been infected with HIV through their mothers or through breastfeeding.
How did HIV/AIDS start?
HIV/AIDS started in Africa. Early cases of HIV/AIDS go back to 1959 when researchers noticed something strange was happening among men in a remote part of what was then called Zaire. The disease spread very quickly, but at first, no one thought much about it because, during that time, doctors rarely saw cases of cancer or autoimmune disorders in otherwise healthy young men.
In 1981, health workers began officially recording reports of an outbreak—they called it GRID (gay-related immune deficiency) or gay cancer—because they thought only gay men got sick with it. At that time, there were already more than 1 million people worldwide living with HIV infection and 20% were likely to develop AIDS within just five years from when they were infected with HIV.
How many people have HIV/AIDS today?
Nearly 35 million people worldwide are living with HIV, including more than 1.2 million in North America. One person contracts HIV every nine seconds, according to 2011 statistics from amFAR, an international organization working toward ending AIDS by 2020.
There are more than 558,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in California alone. Worldwide, some 2.5 million have died of AIDS-related causes since 1981—including 330,000 children under age 15 who were born with HIV or became infected through breastfeeding. An estimated one in five people who contract HIV don’t know they have it; those at risk of contracting HIV should be tested regularly for infection.
How do you get HIV/AIDS?
HIV/AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is not a disease that you get from being in contact with HIV/AIDS (i.e., it’s not contagious), but rather one that occurs as a result of certain activities. These activities can include unsafe sex or needle-sharing, drug use without proper sterilization, blood transfusions, or pregnancy.
The most common way to contract HIV/AIDS, however, is through sexual intercourse; each year more than half of all new infections occur through vaginal sex with an infected partner and 25% occur from penile-vaginal sex. Regardless of how you contract HIV/AIDS, there are symptoms throughout your journey with treatment that begins only after diagnosis.
Are you at risk for HIV/AIDS?
If you’re sexually active, if you have had an STD, or if you live in an area where HIV is common. With about 37 million people worldwide living with HIV/AIDS, it’s important to know what puts people at risk for infection.
Keep reading to learn more about acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
Some of the drugs used to treat HIV are: – Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) – efavirenz, etravirine, nevirapine, rilpivirine.
– Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) – abacavir, didanosine (ddI), emtricitabine (FTC), lamivudine (3TC), stavudine (d4T). – Protease inhibitors (PIs) – atazanavir, darunavir, indinavir, lopinavir/ritonavir(LPV/r), nelfinavir.
Is there a cure for HIV/AIDS?
The short answer is no. Scientists don’t know of a cure for HIV or AIDS, but they are working hard to find one. Fortunately, antiretroviral therapy (ART) has significantly improved the quality of life for many people with HIV/AIDS. It lowers a person’s viral load (the amount of HIV in his or her body), reducing his or her chances of transmitting it to others by almost 100 percent—so-called treatment as prevention.
Although there’s no way to eliminate HIV from someone’s body, ART enables those living with HIV to enjoy near-normal life spans. They can work and support their families—not just survive. The UNAIDS Fast Track Target calls for universal access to ART worldwide by 2015.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome can be spread through blood, vaginal fluids, semen, pre-seminal fluid, or breast milk. While HIV can’t live outside of your body for long, transmission can occur if you don’t use a latex condom during sexual activity with an infected partner. Avoid sexual contact with people who have HIV to avoid acquiring HIV.
If you use intravenous drugs, practice safe injection techniques to prevent infection from contaminated needles or syringes. Practice safe sex every time by using a latex condom and plenty of lubricants to reduce friction that might cause micro-tears in condoms and increase the risk of spreading HIV.