HIV is an epidemic that human is facing. Not only those living with the disease but also those who are not infected need understand it to stay healthy. Followings are ten facts about HIV that everyone should know.
1. The Biology of HIV
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The HIV has two types: HIV-1 and HIV-2, in which HIV-1 is more infective and responsible for global infection. A HIV virus is about 60 times smaller than a red blood cell but has a unique structure and an incredibly fast replication system, which make it become immune to antiretrovirals.
HIV has four stages:
- Stage 1: It is called the incubation period. This phase can last anywhere from about a few days to a few weeks with no noticeable effects.
- Stage 2: Virus causes an acute infection may produce effects like fevers, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, rash, weakness in the muscles and sores in the mouth and esophagus.
- Stage 3: It is called the latency period. It can last a few weeks to a few years with the help of antiretroviral medications. The immune system rallies an attack against the virus, so few or no symptoms show up.
- Stage 4: It is full-blown AIDS , which can also be fought with antiretrovirals.
2. HIV’s Transmission
Not only gay men may be infected with HIV like in the beginning people believed. HIV can be transmitted three ways:
- through unprotected sex where body fluids are exchanged
- through an open-wound contact with infected blood
- from mother to child in-utero, childbirth, or from breast-feeding
3. HIV Pandemic
The World Health Organization lists 0.6% of the global population is infected with HIV and the number of people infected with HIV increases everyday. The developed countries have made great efforts and as a result, fewer people are dying of HIV-related illnesses. However, in the developing countries where resources for education, prevention, and treatment are limited, people are still dying. Currently where has the largest population of people living with HIV is the sub-Sahara of Africa with an estimated 21.6 to 27.4 million people infected with HIV, among of whom are 2 to 3 million children younger than 15 years of age.
4. HIV’s Victims
Anyone regardless races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations can get infected with HIV if they are exposed to it. The young, old, teens, babies, married and single may get the virus. People may be infected with HIV through various ways:
- babies born by HIV-infected women,
- those who have sex with infected persons,
- anyone who share needles with needles with an infected person can,
- people who get a transfusion from an un-screened blood supply can
5. Main Cause of the Death of Those Infected with HIV
HIV is not often the main cause of the death in its victims. The victims’ immune system is weakened by the HIV virus to a point where an opportunistic virus attacks the body and causes death.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease that is spread from person to person through the air. Once it combines with HIV, the situation is extremely dangerous. Tuberculosis and HIV is a deadly combination. It is a deadly combination. In fact, worldwide TB is the leading cause of death among people infected with HIV.
6. Women with HIV and Breastfeeding
It can not deny the benefits of breastfeeding but if women who are living with HIV breastfeed, the risk to their babies is just too high. Unfortunately, some women being infected with HIV without clean water or resources for baby formula can not do anything but breastfeeding. This fact has contributed to the HIV severe situation in such places as Sub-Sahara Africa.
7. The Risk of Transmission from Mum to Baby
The risk of Transmission from Mum to Baby can be avoided. In fact, proper prenatal and postnatal care of mother and baby can reduce the risk of HIV transmission during pregnancy dramatically. If steps for decreasing that risk are not taken, the infection rate is about 1 in 4.