Believe it or not, AIDS is not lethal by itself. What actually worsen the patient’s condition and accounts for fatality are other related AIDS diseases. Certain complications that are brought about by severe immunosuppression are viral and bacterial infections as well as the growth of neoplasm. In order for us to understand this particular disease, we have to first understand the basics of human anatomy and physiology. The Immune system functions as the most significant line of defense against foreign organisms. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) comes from a broad class of human retroviruses under the subfamily of the Lentivirus. This kind of subfamily is characterized by an insidious onset with the progressive involvement of the Central Nervous System (CNS) and may also result in the involvement of the immune system. This virus possesses ribonucleic acid (RNA) and dependent deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) polymerase (reverse transcriptase) which allows them to infect more readily. Their major sites of infection are the T-helper cells found in the immune system. Within the T-cells there are CD4+ cells and to which the HIV attaches itself and starts to copy viral RNA into the human DNA. This process is called reverse transcription. Now incorporated in the human DNA, it becomes even more difficult to treat and when this condition worsens, it will then be termed as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
HIV/AIDS is usually asymptomatic for 4-6 months or sometimes it goes undetected for years. According to sources, HIV/AIDS has become a pandemic as of 2009 with an estimate of 33.3 million people who are affected worldwide. This condition heeds public health concern and its prevention is the best approach toward its control. Since there is no known cure, the public should be informed and educated about safe sexual practices and of course, consciousness of blood and body transmissions.
It takes several risk factors for a host to become a potential habitat for the HIV. The following are the categories of histories that are related to the development of an HIV infection.
I. SOCIAL HISTORY
a. Sexual activities- Having women, men or both as sex partners, having multiple sex partners and preferred sexual practices.
b. Needle Exposure- Sharing of needles during drug administrations.
c. Occupational History- Working in health care facilities with exposure to infected patients.
II. FAMILY HISTORY
a. TB/HIV infections
b. Smoking and other substance abuse within the home
III. DRUG HISTORY
a. Considering the route of administration of mood-altering drugs (i.e. marijuana, cocaine, crack and LSD).
IV. MEDICAL HISTORY
a. Blood transfusion
b. Sexually transmitted diseases (i.e. gonorrhea, candidiasis, genital warts).
The above mentioned factors contribute to immune deficiency and opportunistic infection occurs thereafter as the disease progresses. The fact that there is no known cure for HIV/AIDS, researchers struggle to study reverse transcription as a way of recopying human DNA and possibly eliminating viral RNA.
AIDS RELATED DISEASES
There are several complications brought about by AIDS. As mentioned previously, there are opportunistic viral and bacterial infections as well as the growth of neoplasm. Examples of the mentioned infections are provided below.
Cytomegalovirus disease (CMVD) is usually asymptomatic in HIV patients but they may develop pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs), hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) and esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus). CMVD is contracted via direct contact with body fluids (blood, stool and urine) infected with the virus.
Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV is most commonly observed in congested urban areas. HIV infected persons contract airborne diseases easily such as tuberculosis due to the extreme decline of their immune system. Multi-drug resistance (MDR) or the resistance against TB medications more often occur in HIV patients than in non-HIV patients.
Kaposi’s sarcoma is the most frequent type of neoplasm as a complication of HIV. It runs a fulminant course and is widespread which results to limited survival chances for infected patients.
Kaposi’s sarcoma is most commonly observed in male homosexuals. Typically, a bruise-like patch occurs symmetrically on both sides of the body and eventually spreads to vital organs. These bruise-like patches are reportedly painful and can sometimes turn into plaques that are visible and palpable on skin surfaces. Being a form of cancer, treatment usually varies and sometimes even stopped due to poor prognosis and severe organ wasting.
Tips and comments:
PREVENTION AND EARLY DETECTION
Education and proper instruction is the key to prevent the spread of the infection. If symptoms occur, seek medical advice early so that the disease may be detected and controlled right away.
CONTROL AND COMPLIANCE
· Due to extreme immunosuppression and impaired inflammatory responses, the goal of health management is to prevent aids related complications. The best ways to avoid these are through maintenance of nutrition, hygiene and adequate physical exercise to optimize the person’s bodily function.
· Avoid crowds and congested areas to prevent acquiring infectious and contagious diseases.
· Being wise in sexual choices and having monogamous relationships are vital in terms of control and transmission.· Drug abuse and sharing of needles also increases the risk of spreading HIV, one should know better and avoid substance abuse per se.
· It is important also for clients to comply with medical treatment available for in the absence of compliance, exacerbations are expected.
· Though there are drugs available that inhibit the aggravation of the virus, the major treatment for HIV is just palliative (symptomatic care). These AIDS diseases can be prevented with meticulous care for the HIV infected person.
· Remember, that a person who has contracted HIV should be given full emotional support as stress is also related to immune deficiency.
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