Catherine Emley, RN, MN, CS
If you talk about AIDS these days, most people think of Africa. Since two thirds of the people infected with HIV in the world live in Africa. In some countries over 80 percent of all adults will die of HIV. But the truth of the matter is, that HIV/AIDS is a pandemic problem that is all over the world, including here in the USA.
So what is HIV/AIDS? If you were to ask people around you, the majority of the people will tell you that its something bad that kills you. Most people don’t even know what it means. For starters, HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus and‚ AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. So what’s the difference between the two. HIV is the virus and AIDS is the syndrome acquired from the infection of the virus. HIV specifically attacks the immune system. "Going after the CD4+ helper T cells that help maintain effective immunity against the virus itself" (Anderson, 2005). Some HIV- infected individuals that remain healthy with normal CD4 counts for decades are called long-term non-progressors "LTNP". They do have the virus, but it remains at a very low level and very hidden within the body. HIV can be passed by: blood, semen, pre cum, vagina fluid and breast milk. HIV cannot be passed by the following: sweat, saliva, tears, urine, mosquito’s and air. Once infected by the virus people can immediately start on ARVs which stands for antiretrovirals. These will lower the amount of the virus in your body fluids, also known as the "viral load". Because "HIV is transmitted when the viral load is high, viral load is high immediately after you get infected. That means most people who pass HIV on sexually do so when they're newly infected" (Pisani, 2009). But the only way to know for certain if a person is infected is for them to take an HIV antibody test. An example is the "Elisa" test. Another test that people can take is a polymerase chain reaction...
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