AIDS is one of the world's greatest leading causes of death. Today it is one of the world's most well known diseases and most feared. AIDS knows no race, age, or gender. One will be provided with information on exactly what AIDS is, the stages of HIV, the differences between HIV and AIDS, the knowledge of AIDS in the early 80s, and the knowledge of AIDS today. One will also come to know how AIDS can be contracted, treated and how it can be prevented.
What is AIDS? AIDS, which stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is a viral infection that is developed in the last stage of HIV. HIV or human immunodeficiency virus infects key cells in the human body called "CD4 positive T-cells"( Chipps 2). These cells fight infections and various cancers. When HIV invades the body's CD4 T-cells, the damaged immune system loses its ability to defend against diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, and other organisms (Chipps 2).
HIV progresses in stages based on the amount of virus in the blood. Stage one or the Initial Stage, is also called the Acute Retro viral Syndrome. During this stage fu like symptoms often appear within three to six weeks of exposure to the virus. These symptoms include abdominal cramps, headaches, diarrhea, fevers, skin rash, sore throats, and weight loss. These symptoms usually disappear on their own after two to three weeks. This is a very critical stage of the virus because early detection, as with other diseases, offers more options for treatment and preventing complications. In second stage or Established Stage a person can go many years with out any other signs. HIV is suspected when several symptoms are present such as: confusion, diarrhea, dry cough, mouth sores, night sweats, shortness of breath, yeast infection of the mouth, fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, nail changes, pain when swallowing, and weight loss ( 4 ). In the final or Late Stage HIV progresses to AIDS. In other words AIDS is the last stage of HIV. This stage increases a person's risk of developing serious illnesses such as certain cancers and neurological disorders. Many AIDS symptoms are the same as HIV symptoms. When HIV progresses to AIDS it is a universally fatal illness, because the immune system is so damaged by HIV that the body cannot fight them off.