Introduction to H.I.V.

AIDS (Acquired Immune deficiency syndrome) is a disease caused by a virus called HIV. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV infection is a serious condition in the world today. World Health Organization (WHO) has considered AIDS as Pandemic (epidemic across the very large region) disease.

As the name suggests, HIV virus leads to the deficiency of the immunity in humans. That, in turn, leads to a range of disease conditions, primarily due to seriously impaired immunity due to the invasion of the virus. AIDS leads to decrease in the body's self-healing mechanism and many opportunistic infections like Tuberculosis, Pneumonia, fungal infection; diarrhea, etc. affect the body.

HIV infection

Most of the patients may develop AIDS within 10 years of HIV infection. While few of them may progress much sooner, and some will take much longer. Treatment of HIV infected patients with anti-retroviral may increase the life expectancy.

Once a person is infected with HIV, the virus is present both as free virus and virus within infected body cells. In simple words, HIV virus attacks white blood cells, called CD4 cells. White blood cells are fighter cells. As a result, CD4 cells get destroyed and reduce in number, which leads to collapse of immune or defense mechanism. As the number of CD4 cells keeps reducing, the patient continues getting prone to various infections such as colds, chest infections, Tuberculosis, diarrhea, typhoid, viral fevers, and many other conditions (diseases) like psoriasis, arthritis, weight loss, tumors, and even cancer.

Diagnosis

Presence of HIV in blood or other body fluid can be done with

  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
  • Western blot test
  • Immunofluorescence assay (IFA)

Prognosis

HIV continuously evolves and develops resistance to the newer treatment. With no treatment, the expectancy of life after HIV infection is seen to be 9 to 11 years. Estimates of survival time are likely to continue to change. After an individual has developed AIDS, without treatment life expectancy is estimated to be one year; however, there can be variations.

Most of the HIV positive patients die from other opportunistic infections or cancerous conditions because of immune-deficient state.