HIV/AIDS: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

What is HIV/AIDS?

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a lentivirus (a subgroup of retrovirus) that causes HIV infection and, over time, an acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive. Without treatment, the average survival time after infection with HIV is estimated to be 9 to 11 years, depending on the HIV subtype.


HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus.

HIV can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

Unlike some other viruses, the human body can’t get rid of HIV completely. So once you have HIV, you have it for life. HIV attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells (T cells), which help the immune system fight off infections. If left untreated, HIV reduces the number of CD4 cells (T cells) in the body, making the person more likely to get infections or infection-related cancers. Over time, HIV can destroy so many cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease.


These opportunistic infections or cancers take advantage of a weak immune system and signal that the person has AIDS, the last stage of HIV infection. There is no effective cure for HIV currently exists, but with proper treatment and medical care, HIV can be controlled.

The medicine used to treat HIV is called antiretroviral therapy or ART. If taken the right way, every day, this medicine can dramatically prolong the lives of many people with HIV, keep them healthy, and considerably lower their chance of transmitting the virus to others. Today, a person diagnosed with HIV, treated before the disease is far advanced, and stays on treatment can live nearly as long as someone who does not have HIV.

Use a helmet when you drive on an unknown road

{tocify} $title={Table of Contents}


AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection, and not everyone who has HIV advances to this stage.

AIDS is the stage of infection that occurs when your immune system is badly damaged, and you become vulnerable to opportunistic infections.

When the number of your CD4 cells falls below 200 cells per cubic millimetre of blood (200 cells/ mm3), you have progressed to AIDS. (Normal CD4 counts are between 500 and 1,600 cells/ mm3.) You can also be diagnosed with AIDS if you develop one or more opportunistic infections, regardless of your CD4 count.

Without treatment, people diagnosed with AIDS typically survive about 3 years. Once someone has a dangerous opportunistic illness, life expectancy without treatment falls to about 1 year. People with AIDS need medical treatment to prevent death.


History of AIDS/Where did HIV come from?

Scientists identified a type of chimpanzee in Central Africa as the source of HIV infection in humans.

They believe that the chimpanzee version of the immunodeficiency virus (called simian immunodeficiency virus, or SIV) was most likely transmitted to humans and mutated into HIV when humans hunted these chimpanzees for meat into contact with their infected blood. 

Studies show that HIV may have jumped from apes to humans since the late 1800s.

Over decades, the virus slowly spread across Africa and later into other parts of the world. We know that the virus has existed in the United States since the mid-to-late 1970s.

Symptoms HIV Flu




-Night sweats

-Muscle aches

-Sore throat


-Swollen lymph nodes

-Mouth ulcers

These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. During this time, HIV infection may not show up on an HIV test, but people who have it are highly infectious and can spread the infection to others. You should not assume you have HIV because you have these symptoms.

Each of these symptoms can be caused by other illnesses. And some people who have HIV do not show any signs for 10 years or more.


Symptoms of AIDS

-Rapid weight loss

-Recurring fever or profuse night sweats

-Extreme and unexplained tiredness

-Prolonged swelling of the lymph glands in the armpits, groin, or neck

-Diarrhea that lasts for more than a week

-Sores of the mouth, anus, or genitals


-Red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids

-Memory loss, depression, and other neurologic disorders

Each of these symptoms can also be related to other illnesses. So the only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested.

Many of the severe symptoms and illnesses of HIV come from opportunistic infections because your body’s immune system has been damaged.


Way of transmission of HIV/AIDS

There are generally three (3) ways of HIV/AIDS transmission such as:
  1. Sexual transmission can happen when contact with infected sexual fluids (rectal, genital, or oral mucous membranes). This can happen while having sex without a condom, including vaginal, oral, and anal sex, or sharing sex toys with someone who is HIV-positive.
  2. Perinatal transmission — a mother can transmit HIV to her child during childbirth, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.
  3. Blood Transmission — the risk of transmitting HIV through blood transfusion is shallow in developed countries, thanks to meticulous screening and precautions. However, sharing and reusing syringes contaminated with HIV-infected blood is hugely hazardous among people who inject drugs.

Who are HIV/AIDS vulnerable groups?

People Who Injects Drugs (PWIDs); Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM); Commercial Sex Workers (CSWs); Female Sex Workers (FSWs); Men Sex Workers (MSWs); Transgender Sex Workers (TSWs); Transgender People


State of the epidemic of HIV/AIDS

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 36.9 million people worldwide lived with HIV/AIDS in 2014. Of these, 2.6 million were children (<15 years old).

According to WHO, an estimated 2.0 million individuals worldwide became newly infected with HIV in 2014. This includes over 220,000 children (<15 years). Most of these children lived in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected by their HIV- positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

A UNAIDS report shows that of the 36.9 million people living with HIV globally, 17.1 do not know they have the virus and need to be reached with HIV testing services. Around 22 million do not have access to HIV treatment, including 1.8 million children.

Most people living with HIV are in low- and middle-income countries. According to WHO, sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region, with 25.8 million people living with HIV in 2014. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for almost 70 per cent of the global total of new HIV infections.

According to WHO, an estimated 34 million people have died from AIDS-related causes, including 1.2 million in 2014.

Even today, despite advances in our scientific understanding of HIV and its prevention and treatment, as well as years of significant effort by the global health community and leading government and civil society organisations, most people living with HIV or at risk for HIV do not have access to prevention, care, and treatment, and there is still no cure. However, effective treatment with antiretroviral drugs can control the virus so that people with HIV can enjoy healthy lives and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others.

The HIV epidemic affects the health of individuals, but it also impacts households, communities, and the development and economic growth of nations. Many countries hardest hit by HIV also suffer from other infectious diseases, food insecurity, and other serious problems.

Despite these challenges, there have been successes and promising signs. New global efforts have been mounted to address the epidemic, particularly in the last decade. Prevention has helped reduce HIV prevalence rates in a small but growing number of countries, and new HIV infections are believed to be on the decline. In addition, the number of people with HIV receiving treatment in resource-poor countries has dramatically increased in the past decade. According to UNAIDS, in June 2015, 15.8 million people living with HIV were accessing antiretroviral therapy (ART) globally, up from 13.6 million in June 2014.

Progress has been made to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV and keep mothers alive. According to UNAIDS, in 2014, 73% of the estimated 1.5 million pregnant women living with HIV globally were accessing antiretroviral therapy to avoid transmission of HIV to their children; new HIV infections among children were reduced by 58% from 2000 to 2014.


According to the UNAIDS 2018 DataHIV/AIDS-related status is given in the following:

  1. HIV/Aids-Related Deaths: The annual number of global deaths from AIDS-related illness among people living with HIV (all ages) has declined from a peak of 1.9 million [1.4–2.7 million] in 2004 to 940 000 [670 000–1 300 000] in 2017. Since 2010, AIDS-related mortality has declined by 34%. Reaching the 2020 milestone will require further declines of nearly 150 000 deaths per year.
  2. New HIV Infections: The number of new HIV infections globally continued to decline in 2017. Modelled estimates show that new conditions (all ages) dropped from a peak of 3.4 million [2.6–4.4 million] in 1996 to 1.8 million [1.4–2.4 million] in 2017. However, progress is far slower than required to reach the 2020 milestone of less than 500 000 new infections.
  3. Key Populations: Available data—including special surveys of key populations using respondent-driven sampling methods—suggest that 47% of new HIV infections globally in 2017 were among key people and their sexual partners. This percentage varies by region. Key populations and their sexual partners accounted for more than 95% of new HIV infections in eastern Europe and central Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, 90% of new conditions in central and west Europe and North America, 77% in Latin America and 84% in Asia and the Pacific and the Caribbean. 40% of new HIV infections in West and Central Africa are among key populations and sexual partners.

HIV/AIDS Epidemic and Its Social and Economic Implication

  • Fallen of life expectancy at birth
  • The loss of the income and household production of the family member, mainly if they are the breadwinner & the increase in household expenditures to cover the medical costs.
  • Reduction in the number of available workers
  • Absenteeism and deaths of health workers pose a severe threat to the health system.
  • Facing a shortage of teachers as the pool of qualified educator
  • Reduce the labour supply, leading to reduced productivity.

Factors affecting in causing and spreading HIV/AIDS

There are mainly 11 significant causes or factors in spreading HIV/AIDS, and these are discussed in the following

  1. Promiscuity: Promiscuity is now the leading cause of the spread of HIV in developing regions. Many people have more than one sexual partner, and also prostitution is expected in the areas (Hilary Heuler, VOA).
  2. Cultural Factors: The most common cultural factors fueling the spread of HIV/AIDS in the developing world include polygamy and wife inheritance. These cultural practices are specifically standard in Africa (Susser I., Stein Z.).
  3. Immigration and Movement of People: First, HIV/AIDS was introduced in most developing regions (i.e., the developed ones). And even today, there is a significant number of new infections caused by immigrants.
  4. The commercialisation of sex: A prominent aspect of South African culture that undoubtedly contributes to the HIV/Aids epidemic is that sexuality is frequently seen as a resource that can be used to gain economic benefits.
  5. Gender inequality and male dominance Society: Men are socialised to believe that women are inferior and should be under their control; women are associated with over-respect men and acting submissively towards them. The resulting unequal power between the sexes, particularly when negotiating sexual encounters, increases women’s vulnerability to HIV infection and accelerates the epidemic.
  6. Ignorance & Illiteracy: Most people living in these regions are fully aware of the disease, but they continue to engage in practices that fuel its transmission. This is ignorance, and it is adversely driving the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the whole world, not just the developing countries (Kelly M. J., Bain, B.).
  7. Poverty: The developing world has a large population of people living in poverty. Most poor people are forced to do anything to earn a living, including engaging in sexual activities high-risk factors for the disease.
  8. Drug and Alcohol Use: Drug and alcohol users quite every day among the youth in developing regions. According to studies, there have been consistent new HIV infections resulting from sharing injectors among the drug users in these regions (Liu H., Grusky O., Li X., Ma E.).
  9. HIV/AIDS Stigma and Discrimination: The stigma attached to HIV seriously hinders prevention efforts and makes HIV-positive people wary of seeking care and support for fear of discrimination.
  10. Physical and sexual violence: Men often use violence to maintain their status in society and prove that they are “real men” by keeping women under their control. Physically abusive relationships limit women’s ability to negotiate safer sex: many men still do not want to use condoms, and some become violent if women insist on safer sex. Women may not even raise the issue of safer sex for fear of a violent response.
  11. Lack of Access to Maternity Services: The developing countries lack enough maternity services for all their pregnant women. Most women, especially those in remote areas, bear children without the help of trained healthcare providers (Grant A. D., Yousaf M.Z.).

How to reduce the risk of getting HIV?

Anyone can get HIV, but you can take steps to protect yourself from HIV infection.
  • Get Tested And Know Your Partner’s HIV Statu
  • Have Less Risky Sex Use Condom
  • Limit Your Number of Sexual Partner
  • Get Tested And Treated For STI/STD
  • Talk To Your Health Care Provider About Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (Prep)
  • Don’t Inject Drugs
  • Follow The Religious Values
  • Increasing Moral Education
  • Reducing Poverty And Developing Socio-economic Condition of People
  • Increasing Female Health Education
  • IEM Intervention To Use Condoms
  • Using the Behavior Change Communication (BCC) And Information, Education, & Communication (IEC) Programs
  • Awareness-raising Activities Uganda’s ABC Model On HIV Control:  ( A) Abstinence (B) ‘Be-faithful’ (C), Condoms. 

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post