What Is AIDS?

AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency (or immune deficiency) syndrome. It resultsfrom infection with a virus called HIV, which stands for human immunodeficiency virus. This virus infects important cells in the human body called CD4-positive (CD4+) t cells. These cells are part of the body’s immune system, which fights infections and various cancers.

When HIV invades the body, it begins to attack white blood cells called CD4+ t cells or t4 lymphocyte cells. Without these white blood cells, the immune system – which normally fights off infections – loses its ability to defend against diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, and other microscopic organisms. Without enough CD4+ T cells, the body becomes vulnerable to certain rare cancers.

There is no cure for AIDS, but medical treatments can slow down the rate at which HIV weakens the immune system. As with other diseases, early detection offers more options for treatment and preventing complications.

What Is The Difference Between HIV And AIDS?

The term AIDS refers to an advanced stage of HIV infection, when the immune system has sustained substantial damage. Not everyone who has HIV infection develops AIDS.

When HIV progresses to AIDS, however, it has proved to be a universally fatal illness. Few people survive five years from the time they are diagnosed with AIDS, although this is increasing with improvements in treatment techniques.

Experts estimate that about half the people with HIV will develop AIDS within 10 years after becoming infected. This time varies greatly from person to person, however, and can depend on many factors, including a person’s health status and health-related behaviours.

When To Have An HIV Test

It is recommend that individuals should have an HIV test if they answer “yes” to one or more of the following questions:

  • Having three or more sexual partners in the last 12 months
  • Have received a blood transfusion prior to 1985, or have a sexual partner received a transfusion and later tested positive for HIV
  • Not sure about one’s sexual partner’s risk behaviours
  • Being a male who has had sex with another male
  • Using street drugs by injection, especially when sharing needles and/or other equipment
  • Having a sexually transmitted disease (STD)
  • Being a healthcare worker with direct exposure to blood on the job

People should consider an HIV test if:

  • They have engaged in an activity that has an HIV infection risk factor
  • Knowing their HIV status would help them find the medical care to prevent or delay a life threatening illness
  • Knowing the result of a test would help protect sexual partners
  • The test would help them make decisions about pregnancy and childbirth
  • Taking the test would resolve their anxiety over wondering if HIV infection is present
Signs and Symptoms of HIV/AIDS

Early Signs and Symptoms Some people experience signs and symptoms of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), as soon as they become infected, others do not. Signs and symptoms are often mistaken for flu or a mild viral infection. The person appears to recover, usually between a week to month later. Signs and symptoms include;

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Enlarged lymph nodes (neck, armpits and groin)

As you can see, the signs and symptoms are similar to many different viral infections and diseases. The only way to know if you are infected with HIV is to be tested. Many people infected with HIV do not have any signs and symptoms for many years.

What tests are done to detect HIV?

Here at Central Medical Laboratory all HIV test are done to the protocol of the National Health Department, each test are done using the test kit that is provided by the government.

The main approach to HIV testing is to assay for anti-HIV in the patient serum. Since antibody usually does not appear until several months to a year after exposure a negative test must be followed by another test in about six months.

As HIV infection progress, the virus multiples and can be cultured and isolated. Other tests detect viral components such as the P24 antigen. The p24 antigen can be detected very early after HIV infection, then disappears and cannot be detected again until the late stage of the disease.