HIV and AIDS
HIV was first identified in the United States in 1981 after 5 young men started getting sick with a rare type of cancer. It took several years for scientists to develop tests for the virus, to understand how HIV transmitted and how people can prevent themselves.
The name implies that HIV is a virus: Â Viruses are the smallest living organisms. They can only reproduce themselves inside the cells of another living organism. Virus is found in humans, that it makes our immune system deficient (lacking in something) and therefore weakens it.
The immune system is the body defense against disease. With a damaged defense system the body is vulnerable to a range of infections and diseases.
AIDS: Acquired Immune-deficiency Syndrome
Acquired refers to the fact that one gets the disease from elsewhere one doesn’t just develop it spontaneously. One gets it from another person, who is infected through contact with person infected blood and/or sexual fluids HIV
Immune refers to the body's defense system for fighting off disease or infections
Deficiency indicates a weakness in human system
Syndrome means a specific collection of symptoms and diseases AIDS is a term used to indicate the most serious stage of a person's infection with HIV.
When people become infected with HIV, they do not become sick with AIDS immediately. A person may be infected for many years with HIV and look and feel completely healthy. During this time he or she can spread the virus to other people. When a person infected with HIV begins to get many sicknesses, we say that he or she has AIDS. Everyone who is infected with HIV will eventually get AIDS.
- HIV enters the body through sexual intercourse or any other mode of transmission.
- HIV circulates in the host’s blood stream.
- It attaches itself to the CD4 cell using receptors.
- Then HIV releases its RNA (ribonucleic acid) into CD4 cells.
- The viral RNA and viral enzyme called reverse Transcriptase" which is part of the virus adapts to viral DNA (which under normal situation HIV doesn't have).
- Viral Deoxyribo Nucleic Acid (DNA) enters the cell nucleus and is incorporated into the DNA of the Human cell, thus becoming part of the cell's genetic material.
- The release of viruses from the infected cells result in death of the cells and the process is repeated with newly produced viruses attacking more CD4 cells.
- When a CD4 cell is activated by the infection or other diseases the virus uses the cell to replicate itself.
- This process continues and CD4 cells are depleted until the body immune system is weakened.
- This results in a person developing opportunistic infections, which mark the beginning of AIDS. It is these infections that kill individuals.
- This process results in the progressive destruction of CD4 cells which does not only result in the decline of CD4 cells in number, but is accompanied by profound impairment of the functioning of the remaining lymphocytes.
HIV survives and is found in body fluids of an infected person.
These fluids include:
- Vaginal secretions
Person can get infected when there is interaction between his/her body fluid and that of an infected person.
It could be through any of the following means:
- Unprotected sexual intercourse
- Blood transfusion.
- Sharing sharp instruments.
- From mother to child during pregnancy, at birth or during breastfeeding
Prevention of sexual transmission
- Abstaining by choosing not to have sex at all.
- Be faith full to your partner(s) and Use condoms consistently and correctly.
- Safer sex refers to things that a person can do to minimize their risk of HIV infection during sexual intercourse;
- Preventing transmission of HIV through blood.
- Needle exchange programs can help to prevent HIV transmission among drug users by providing clean needles and disposing of used ones.
- In the event that a healthcare worker is exposed to potentially HIV infected blood at work, PEP (post exposure prophylaxis) is recommended as an HIV prevention measure.
- Preventing mother to child transmission of HIV
- Mother-to-child transmission of HIV can be prevented by using antiretroviral drugs, which reduce the chances of a child becoming infected with HIV from around 25% to less than 2%. Once a child is born, safer infant feeding practices can also greatly reduce the risk of HIV being passed on from mother to child.
- For these precautions to be taken, an HIV positive mother must firstly be aware of her status. This is why HIV testing in pregnancy is a crucial prevention measure.
Impact of HIV/AIDS to an individual
- Sickness and pains
- Stress and psychological trauma
- Decline in personal economic gains
- Stigma and discrimination
- Finally, death
Impact of HIV/AIDS to family and society
- Economy decline
- Psychological trauma
- Stigma and discrimination of the family
- Loss of a beloved one
Impact of HIV/AIDS to the nation
- Adult mortality in Tanzania has increased considerably in recent years
- Child mortality decline during the eighties and early nineties have been reversed
- Life expectancy Â has been reduced to 47 years as opposed to the projected 56 years without AIDS
- World Bank estimates a reduction of average real GDP growth rate in the period 1985-2010 from 3.9 per cent without AIDS to between 2.8 and 3.3 with AIDS
- Loss of skilled human resources
- Additional burden on the health system
- Reduced productivity
- Drop in economy f the country
- Increased burden of orphans