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Essay by   •  April 9, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,432 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,590 Views

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HIV is believed to have begun in isolated parts of Central Africa where the retrovirus made the jump from chimpanzee to humans. It is likely that the retrovirus infected people who ingested chimpanzee meat and it subsequently underwent mutations to form the human retrovirus. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a virus that weakens the body's resistance to infection. HIV destroys the white blood cells referred to as T cells or CD4 cells that the immune system must have to fight disease. In this destabilized state; the body's immune system is compromised and can no longer fight off infection. HIV will eventually cause AIDS. AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. AIDS is the last step of the HIV infection. A person can test positive with HIV, but show no signs of AIDS. "Approximately 33 million people are infected with HIV worldwide." ("HIV Infection: The Basics," 2008, p. 614).

HIV can be transmitted from one person to another in a number of ways. The most common ways of transmission are through unprotected sexual intercourse, oral sex, sharing injection needles, and mother to child (before or during birth, or through breast milk). Transmission occurs only through the blood, including menstrual blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. Transmission of HIV will not occur through contact with an infected person's saliva, tears, sweat, feces, or urine.

HIV can be diagnosed based on a number of factors, the working ability of the immune system, T-cell count test, the presence of HIV antibodies, and the presence of one or more opportunistic infections. You can get tested at your doctor's office, public health clinics, or a home test kit can be purchased at your local drug store. The initial signs of HIV infection are swollen glands and flu-like symptoms. As HIV infects the body, it destroys CD4 lymphocytes by using them to reproduce itself. CD4 helper lymphocytes are also known as CD4+ T cells. These cells are white blood cells vital in maintaining the human immune system. Lymphocytes and HIV can fight against each other for years. Every day the body makes billions of CD4 cells and HIV uses them to make even more copies of itself. HIV will eventually win the battle. After a person is infected with HIV, the number of CD4 cells will continue to decrease. A normal CD4 count is between 600 and 1500 per cubic millimeter of blood. As HIV continues to work in the body, the count will eventually drop below 200. When this happens, the human body can no longer fight off even the smallest infection.

In the first stages of infection some people will have symptoms that are usually brief but not severe, these might include; slight fever, headache, fatigue, and swollen glands. The incubation period can last for several years without symptoms. However, the immune system becomes increasingly damaged. A person with HIV may experience a long period of swelling of the lymph glands in the throat, armpits, and groin, this is called persistent generalized lymphadenopathy, this may last a number of years. When HIV has seriously damaged the immune system, a condition called ARC (AIDS Related Complex) may occur.

These symptoms may include thrush, skin infections, severe viral infections, and infections especially in mucus membranes of the anal and genital area. The final stage of the HIV virus is AIDS; symptoms include a variety of viral, fugal, bacterial, and parasitic infections, as well as nervous disorders, and cancers. However, in AIDS patients the immune system is no longer effective so the infections are very life threatening. AIDS is a grim, critical illness that has an array of symptoms. HIV infection can be treated with medications to make patients feel better and to prolong life. However, there is no cure for HIV infection or AIDS. Once a person is diagnosed with AIDS, the risk of death is much higher.

The risk of death is much higher because the body's immune system cannot fight off infection by any one of the following diseases: Tuberculosis; Mycobacterium Avium Complex, Salmonellosis. Tuberculosis (TB) affects the lungs; however, people with HIV are more likely to have TB in other places on the body. Mycobacterium Avium Complex (MAC) is caused by a group of bacteria that causes an infection the respiratory tract. Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection that passes into the body from contaminated food or water.

Other infections caused by viruses include: Cytomegalovirus, Viral



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