Overview of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
The Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, also called Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, is one of the most lethal diseases of the human immune system. The syndrome, which is viral and caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), compromises the immune system to such a level that several common and opportunistic bacterial and viral infections get a chance to flourish and grow, without the body being able to cope with these common issues on its own. As of yet, there is no known cure for AIDS and the disease usually ends up being fatal, although treatment can improve the quality and expectancy of life in patients.
Causes and Risk Factors of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
AIDS is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) which resides in bodily fluids of infected individuals, like blood, semen, vaginal fluids and breast milk. Therefore, the disease is spread also via the exchange of any of these fluids. This means that the risk of contracting AIDS considerably increases via unprotected sex and having multiple sexual partners, IV drug usage via the same needle, blood transfusion etc. AIDS can also be transmitted from an infected mother to her baby during the pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. AIDS cannot be transmitted through any other means, though, which means it is safe to have casual contact with an infected person, shake hands, share towels etc., and even mouth-to-mouth contact as saliva does not house the HIV.
Signs and Symptoms of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
One of the main reasons why AIDS remains undetected for so long is because there are no visible signs or symptoms in the early stages of infection. In fact, AIDS hardly carries any symptoms of its own; it’s usually the other opportunistic infections whose manifestation indicates that the immune system has been compromised. Nevertheless, in some people, a flu-like condition may be observed for several weeks just after contracting the infection. Such patients may also experience joint pain and muscle ache, rashes, constant feeling of fatigue and weight loss. As the infection progresses, more and more signs start becoming visible due to other infections, including severe diarrheas, loss of vision, fever, breathing issues and white spots on the tongue.