HIV is a retrovirus that attacks and weakens the defence capacity of the human body.So,following HIV infection,one’s body becomes increasingly incapable of defending itself against infectious diseases
The immune system becomes weak following destruction of particular white blood cells by the HIV virus. These white cells are known as CD4+ T cells
Two types of HIV,namely HIV-1 and HIV- 2 are the most infectious types of HIV and are associated with the progressive destruction of the immune system. Of the two types,HIV-1 is cited as the most virulent and is associated with most of the HIV infections world wide.
HIV-2 is a subtype of HIV that is commonly found in West parts of Africa
Following HIV infection, the body’s immune system undergoes a progressive destruction. This destruction particularly involves the destruction of particular white blood cells known as T lymphocytes. This type of white cell is responsible for coordinating how other cells of the immune system respond when an infection occurs within the body
As such, the progressive loss of T lymphocytes from the body’s defences system makes an individual susceptible to many infectious diseases and this is what eventually leads to a condition known as AIDS-Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is what is referred in common term as the wasting syndrome
The T Lymphocytes play an important role as demonstrated in the video description of their roles(play video on T lymphocytes)
HIV is often transmitted through contact with fluids commonly found within the human body and which have already been infected with the virus. Such fluids include blood, semen and breast milk. Others include vaginal secretions. In all these particular body fluids, the concentration of HIV virus has been established to be quiet high when compared to other body fluids such as saliva, tears or urine.
Some of the common ways through which HIV is often transmitted from an infected person to a healthy person include among others; having unprotected sexual contact with a person infected with the virus, through the transfer of the virus through breast milk to the baby, through transfer of the virus from the mother to a baby during birth.
Again, the HIV virus can also be transmitted through pricks obtained from contaminated needles. Sharing needles especially those used to make skin injections is also one of the most common transmission routes for the HIV virus.
Arguably, most of the HIV prevention measures are tied the transmission routes mentioned earlier on.
So they involve minimizing risks to HIV infection through avoiding unprotected sex with an infected partner, avoiding sharing of needles and other sharp items such as blades and also minimizing the risk of mother to child transmission of HIV.
Considering the most common transmission routes, individuals or groups which engage in high risk activities such as unprotected sex for example both male and female prostitutes, groups that share needles and sharps such as drug abusers and children born to HIV positive women are particularly at a high risk of being infected with the HIV virus.
HIV care and management can be summarized as involving two important components; first is treatment of opportunistic infections through antiretroviral drugs as well as the social support component that includes continuous counselling, providing the patient with nutrition support as well as other forms of support as needed by a patient. This is what is commonly referred to as comprehensive care approach to the care, treatment and management of HIV
Opportunistic infections refer to a wide range of diseases or health conditions which an individual suffers from because their immune status has been lowered due to HIV infection.
Over time, due to the lowered immune status, these opportunistic infections, if not treated or managed may eventually lead to AIDs and death eventually.
Examples of opportunistic infections due to HIV infection include various cancers,tuberculosis,pneumonia and any other infectious diseases.
Antiretroviral drugs are developed based on the life cycle of the HIV virus and are made to destabilise the actions of three integral enzymes critical to effective infection by HIV virus. These are reverse transcriptase, integrase, and protease.Antiretroviral drugs are effectively named according to the enzyme they inhibit.
Stolley,K.S and Glass,J.E. 2009.”HIV/Aids”. California :Green wood publishing,2009. Print. Web.