Origin of HIV is mainly in non-primates and had spread to human beings through aeons. This disease was diagnosed in the 1980s for the first time and after its discovery, it has taken the lives of about 25 million people till date. The term HIV and AIDS are used simultaneously but actually, they are not interrelated. In reality, HIV is the form of virus which causes AIDS. These viruses cause adverse effects on the human immune system. HIV virus is a retrovirus and has RNA as their genetic material. HIV virus affects a particular type of blood cell, the WBC (White Blood Cells) and the T-helper cells and HIV virus also has a tendency to make copies of itself inside these cells. T-helper cells are also known as CD4 cells.
Ways Through Which HIV Infection Spreads
Some of the common ways by which HIV infection occurs are listed below:
1. One of the most common ways is through unprotected sexual interaction with an already infected person.
2. Use of a needle which was earlier used for an infected person.
3. Transfer of HIV virus through infected mother to the baby through the placenta.
4. If blood is transfused from an infected person.
5. HIV virus has a long incubation period before it starts to attack the immune system (10 years).
Types of HIV
Based on their strains HIV are of two types:
HIV - 1: HIV 1 is one of the most common types of virus that spread world wide.
HIV-2: This type of strain is mainly found in western Africa, with only a few cases in India and Europe.
There are 8 types of HIV-2 groups known to date i.e (A to H).
How HIV Infection Occurs?
In primary steps, HIV infects macrophages which are present in the blood. Once they complete infection in macrophages, the viral RNA enters the host cell and produces DNA inside the cell with the help of reverse transcription. This viral DNA then enters into the host genome and starts the production of multiple RNA copies and this production takes place through the transcription process. These RNAs then produce multiple copies of the virus and continue the infection throughout the body in the same way.
Simultaneously, HIV also enters into the T-lymphocytes and continues this process as it had done in macrophages. This process causes a decrease in the number of helper T lymphocytes. Due to this process, immunity of infected people keeps on decreasing. This loss in immunity causes infections, which are the major symptoms of AIDS. More symptoms of this disease are bouts of fever, diarrhoea and significant weight loss.
What is AIDS?
Disease caused by the HIV virus is known as AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. In this disease, a person’s immune system is affected so much that they become too weak to fight against any kind of infection or disease. AIDS is usually known as the last stage of HIV infection; a stage where the body can no longer defend itself and thus spawns various diseases. AIDS, when untreated, leads to death.
Symptoms of AIDS
The symptoms of HIV are not always the same; they differ from person to person. Some of the common signs are listed below:
These symptoms often disappear in a few days or a few weeks. Mostly a person with HIV often experiences no symptoms and feels healthy like they usually feel.
Prevention of AIDS
By taking some prevention we can stop HIV from spreading. HIV infection can be diagnosed with the help of a test known as ELISA which stands for ‘Enzyme Linked Immuno Sorbent Assay’. As we all know that AIDS is an incurable disease, so far; thus, it’s prevention is the only thing which we can do.
Some of the preventive measures are listed below:
By using disposable needles
Practising safe sex, i.e., by using protection like condoms
Regular health check-ups
Monitoring during blood transfusion and pregnancy.
One of the most important factors is the awareness of AIDS by organising seminars, camps, etc. As it does not spread by normal physical contact, so the infected persons should not be discriminated against and must be treated like normal persons.