HIV Overview

The first cases of AIDS were diagnosed officially in the U.S. In 1981, according to the mode of propagation and other factors, doctors deduced that the emerging disease was caused by a tiny germ, a type of virus. By 1983, scientists from the U.S. and France have independently discovered the virus which was believed to cause AIDS. The French then called the virus “Associate VAL lymphadenopathy” as it was causing adenomegaly (enlargement of the lymph nodes in the body). American researchers gave to the discovered virus the name of: human cell lymphatic virus HTLV III or III because of how it attacks the body’s cells. After prolonged controversy regarding the naming of the virus and the team of researchers who first identified it, both of the viruses turned out to be identical. Finally, it was named HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

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Most researchers believe that the virus originated in chimpanzees and monkeys in Africa. HIV-like viruses, called VIP (Primate Immunodeficiency Viruses) are associated to monkeys. Genetic analysis and research on the spread of HIV show that the virus is under 100 years old, but over 20. It probably appeared in a small group of people in a remote area many years ago and spread through traveling. HIV attacks certain types of white blood cells (lymphocytes T CD4 +) that are part of the immune system. As the immune system begins to weaken, white cells become unable to resist to diseases and fight against germs. Germs that normally would be rapidly neutralized remain in the body and multiply. AIDS is not caused by HIV itself, as with common viral illness, but is due to the inability of the immune system to fight off infections. In medical terms, a series or group of symptoms and conditions that tend to act together is called a syndrome. Hence the name of disease of AIDS, meaning Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Clearly, AIDS is a serious threat to human health. According to estimates, in the early ’90s more than 10 million people were diagnosed with HIV. World Health Organization show that this number reached 40 million in 2000. In the U.S., in 1991, a person with AIDS died every 12 minutes. Any child with chlamydiosis requires a consultation done by a senior medical specialist to determine the exact cause of the ailment, and also to investigate a possible sexual abuse.

HIV Symptoms

Viruses are the simplest life forms. Many diseases, such as measles, mumps, the cold and flu are caused by viruses. A typical virus shows a central or core portion made of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid). This establishes the genes of a virus-chemical codes needed to build more viruses identical with it. The DNA core is covered by a sheath like a mosaic, composed of various protein molecules. However, a virus cannot replicate on its own, it needs a living cell, such as a cell in the body, to act as a host. The virus enters the host cell, the host adds its genes and determines the chemical mechanism of the cell to produce hundreds of thousands of copies of itself. Then these viruses exit the host cell, destroying it and are ready to infect other cells. HIV is an unusual virus, belonging to a group of viruses called retrovirus. They do not contain DNA, but RNA instead. Inside the host cell, the RNA is first converted into DNA, then the DNA is used as code for virus multiplication. HIV is unusual because its main effects are not felt for some time, generally ranging between 5-10 years after it entered the body. When a person is infected with HIV, the virus multiplies rapidly. It can be detected in both blood and cerebrospinal fluid. The person may not be affected at this stage and may have some flu-like symptoms such as runny nose and fever, rash, axillary lymphadenopathy or frequent headaches. These symptoms are often flu-like. These symptoms and high levels of HIV in the body usually go away after a few weeks, when the infected person feels fine again. The virus is present but inactive. Unconsciously, the person can transmit the virus. Eventually, after many years, HIV is reactivated and starts to multiply again. That is the time when AIDS occurs. Oral thrush and leukoplakia hairy often appear. Oral thrush appears as white spots on the tongue, leukoplakia consists of some white bumps along the tongue. At this stage, the immune system begins to fight, and the number of white blood cells decreases. In some cases or in others, gradually after a few weeks, begin to develop various diseases. They are skin and mucous membranes infections. The body may yield to some infections, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis or meningitis or encephalitis. Such inflammation can cause confusion or mental problems (including dementia). Also the following can occur: blurred vision, diarrhea or digestive problems with excessive bleeding and wounds. Other conditions that may occur are different forms of cancer, Kaposi’s sarcoma, which causes skin lesions. After a few weeks or months, the patient enters the last stages of the disease, as various diseases overwhelm the body.

HIV Treatment

As doctors and patients have gained experience with the disease, there have been improvements in patient care and treatment of the diseases and disorders caused by AIDS. For example, some types of pneumonia triggered by AIDS can be treated with antibiotics and antivirals. Skin inflammation caused by Kaposi’s sarcoma are remedied by radiotherapy (radiation or X-ray treatment). However, presently there is no known cure for AIDS and no effective long-term treatment. Also, no vaccine (immunization) to prevent the evolution and spread of HIV, as the one against polio, measles and other similar diseases. Despite ongoing efforts to search for drugs and vaccines against AIDS and occasional successes, progress proves to be slow and difficult. Because viruses live and multiply inside host cells, they are “targets” hard to reach. There are only a few effective antiviral drugs, compared to many antibiotics that kill bacteria. Drugs such as zidovudine (AZT, Retrovir) slow AIDS in some people. It can have unpleasant or serious side effects: nausea, vomiting, weakness, and in some cases it can damage the bone marrow. Some patients cannot or prefer not to take this medicine. Another scientific method is preventing HIV attachment to the host cell surface. The points of attachment of the virus and the body’s cells are well seen. Scientists are trying to create a drug to interfere with the binding of the virus and the cell or block it and also hope that it will kill the virus at the same time.

Prevention

Anyone can reduce the risk of becoming infected with HIV by avoiding drugs and practicing safe sex. Protection is using condoms and limiting the number of sexual partners. Detailed knowledge of the partner’s sexual past is important because HIV infection may take years before the onset of AIDS. During this time, the person infected with HIV may look healthy and may not know they carry the virus, but being able to convey to others. While HIV may reside in saliva, it is believed that it CANNOT be transmitted through kissing. Already fears have come true in countries such as Australia, France, Norway, Sweden and the UK, as some sexually transmitted disease can no longer be treated with current antibiotic classes.

HIV Testing

What are the current HIV test types and how accurate are they?

Determine HIV Test -1/2

Determine HIV Test -1/2 is a qualitative immune test, visual reading for HIV antibodies and HIV-1 -2 in the serum, plasma or human blood. Determine HIV-1/2 test is easy to use and fast (results available after 15 minutes). Using a small amount of blood, serum or plasma collected by pricking the finger to determine the HIV status of the adult or child over 15 months.

Biological Principles

Determine HIV Test -1/2 is an immune-chromatographic test for the qualitative detection of antibodies of HIV type-1 or HIV-2, antibodies that appear in the body due to the infection with HIV-1 or HIV-2. To ensure the validity of the test, the test device is incorporated in a control window. The Determine HIV -1/2 test’s specificity is 99.68%, according to studies, and its sensitivity is 100%. Note: Prevention of a sexually transmitted disease is much easier than treating it.

References

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