Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that, as it names suggests, attacks the immune system of its host, therefore reducing its ability to efficiently fend off other ailments or diseases. Specifically, HIV destroys a particular type of white blood cell within the immune system known as the T-helper cell and replaces them with copies of itself, therefore compromising the body’s defence system.
As HIV settles into the body and continues to degrade the immune system, the host continues to be unable to fight off illnesses whether they be large or small, from the common cold to more serious infections, HIV can be the catalyst to a deadly end. However, it doesn’t always have to end that way, with effective treatment available that can help counter the negative symptoms of HIV and giving people afflicted with it a chance at a healthy, normal life.
HIV can be transmitted via most types of body fluid such as blood, semen and other excretions, but not through sweat, saliva or urine. Unprotected sex and frequent intravenous drug use greatly increase your chances at contracting it. If diagnosed within early stages, HIV can be easily managed, but if left unattended, it can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
AIDS is the result of prolonged HIV. As a result of the continued dilapidation of the immune system, it reaches a point of no return where the system collapses, leading to the development of certain defining symptoms and illnesses. Labelled as the last stage of HIV, it can be deadly without further treatment. As AIDS is more aggressive and deadly than HIV, it requires stronger medication but can provide sufferers with options that include a long, healthy life under the right conditions and treatment.
As of 2015, HIV/AIDS continues to be a major public health issue, with estimates putting the number of people living with HIV at roughly 37 million people – including 1.8 million children – and 1.1 million people died as a direct result of AIDS-related illness.. Of those 37 million, most are located in medium to low income countries in Africa.
Overall, treatment and mitigation of the HIV/AIDS infection has been reduced, but certain watchdogs have pointed out that most of the progress has happened in developed nation. Additionally, they warn that we could see a new uptick in diagnoses or even another outbreak in upcoming years as nations the most affected by the virus fail to battle it efficiently.