HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency virus. HIV is a virus similar to that of the flu or common cold. The differentiating factor is that with the flu and cold, your body will eventually clear the virus out of your system, but with the HIV virus, the immune system cannot clear it. Getting HIV means you have it for life. The virus immediately begins attacking the cells in your body called T-cells or CD4 cells. These cells are used by the body to fight infections and diseases. When the HIV virus attacks these cells, they duplicate themselves. Most people are not even aware that they are infected with the HIV virus for long periods of time, sometimes even years. The symptoms of HIV often start with flu-like symptoms such as swollen glands, fever, sore throat, rash, fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and headaches. This is called “acute retroviral syndrome;” it is the body’s natural reaction to contracting the HIV virus. The symptoms can last from days to weeks. Many people who are infected with HIV do not even show signs for 10 years or more. The next stage is the “clinical latency” stage. During this stage, people who are infected experience no symptoms. If you do not take medication, this stage can turn into AIDS. Once the virus attacks all of your T-cells or CD4 cells, the infection can lead to AIDS.
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... More than 25 million people have died worldwide from AIDS since the first cases were reported in 1981. An estimated 15,529 people with an AIDS diagnosis died in 2010 alone.
Prevention of HIV has potential to be very simple. Refraining from sexual activity is the number one form of prevention. Other ways are not sharing needles, using condoms, using a sharps container when it comes to the disposal of needles and sharp objects, testing blood for transfusion, and educating people on the dangers of blood contact.
The HIV/AIDS virus is a very dangerous disease. It can affect any race, color, gender, and age group. Anyone who puts themselves at risk is at risk. Medical advancements and education have helped to prevent the spreading and severity of the virus. Scientists are continually studying and researching in an attempt to find a safe cure for the HIV/AIDS virus.
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