HIV Virus

In our days, one of the most well known infections and illnesses might be considered to be HIV and AIDS that is known to develop from HIV. Many people have heard about HIV, but they might not know that it actually stands for human immunodeficiency virus and that in fact it is a lentivirus. This means that it is a member of the retrovirus family and this virus is to blame for the presence of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome that is often referred to as AIDS. In case a person contracts this infection his or her immune system gets weakened and this is why opportunistic infections might infect the human body and possibly lead to the death of infected people.

There are numerous ways to contract HIV infection, and the most common ones include the transfer of blood, vaginal fluid, semen, pre-ejaculate or even through breast milk. Regarding these body fluids, the HIV might be present both in ways of free virus particles and also as infected immune cells.

There are four major ways of transmission, and these include the following:

  • Having unprotected sex
  • To breast-fed babies from the infected mother
  • Using contaminated hypodermic needles
  • Contracting the infection at birth from an infected mother
  • Blood transfusion, but nowadays due to the screenings that occur initially, this isn't really possible in this moment

The HIV infection in case of humans has been considered pandemic by the World Health Organization (also known as WHO). Still you should know that the complacency regarding HIV might have a very important role to play. The infection has been discovered in 1981 and between then and 2006, AIDS managed to bring the death of about 25 million people. It is estimated that the infection occurs in about 0.6% of the total number of population of the Earth. In the year of 2005, it has been said that the illness claimed the life of about 2.4-3.3 million people, and among these patient 570,000 have been children. A third of the reported infections happened in the sub-Saharan region of the African continent. This is why the economic growth of the country has been affected and it also induced increasing poverty. In this moment, specialists say that there might be 90 million people in this continent, who will contract the infection, and this will have at least 18 million orphans in the continent. There is the antiretroviral treatment that is available and that has the possibility to reduce both the mortality and the morbidity of the infection. The downside of the treatment is that not everybody has the possibility to receive it, since it isn't available in every country.

The target of the HIV virus is to infect the cells of the immune system that are known as T-cells or CD4 cells since these are responsible for fighting off the occurring infections. Because of the infection, the number of T-cells falls to dramatic levels, and then AIDS develops.

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