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Diseases » AIDS » Introduction


AIDS: Introduction

AIDS is the acronym for the incurable disease acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS is caused by an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Over time, HIV infection destroys the helper T cells of the body's immune system, resulting in a critical deterioration of the immune system and the ability of the body to fight infection. Advanced HIV infection is called AIDS.

AIDS is frequently a sexually transmitted disease. HIV which causes ADIS is most often passed from one person another during sexual contact that involves vaginal, oral, or anal sex. HIV can also be passed to another person through other means, such as through contact with blood or body fluids. This can occur through such processes as blood transfusions or sharing needles contaminated with HIV. HIV can also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding.

Early infection with HIV often produces no symptoms. When there are symptoms, they can include flu-like symptoms that occur about four to eight weeks after infection. These symptoms generally go away within several weeks. There then may be no symptoms for months to years. Eventually a person with HIV infection develops serious, life-threatening complications. This is generally when a diagnosis of AIDS is made. For more details on complications and symptoms, refer to symptoms of AIDS.

Any person that engages in sexual activity can contract and pass on the HIV infection, which causes AIDS. This includes heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual men and women. The more sexual partners a person has, the greater the risk of catching and passing on an HIV infection. Having another type of sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia, genital herpes, HPV or gonorrhea, also puts a person at greater risk for contracting an HIV infection and eventually developing AIDS.

The diagnostic test for HIV is a blood test that can reveal the presence of the specific antibodies (infection-fighting substances) that the body makes in response to an HIV infection. However, HIV may not be detectable in the first one to three months after infection. A diagnosis of AIDS is generally made when HIV infection has resulted in serious complications and opportunistic infections are occurring. These can include Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, cytomegalovirus infections, Kaposi's sarcoma and tuberculosis.

During or after a diagnosis of AIDS, a physician or licensed health care provider will take a medical and sexual history to determine general health and immune system status. A complete physical and pelvic examination for women and physical and examination of the penis and testicles for men is also done. Additional tests are done to test for the presence of other potential disorders and diseases, including sexually transmitted diseases.

Because there are often no symptoms in the early stages, some people with AIDS may be unaware of an HIV infection, and a diagnosis can be missed or delayed. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of AIDS.

AIDS is a highly preventable disease. Prevention of AIDS is best accomplished by abstaining from sexual activity or having sex only within a mutually monogamous relationship in which neither partner is infected with HIV. Latex condoms also provide some protection from HIV and AIDS when used properly.

There currently is no cure for HIV infection and AIDS. However, prompt diagnosis and treatment of HIV infection can help to delay the onset of AIDS and serious complications, such as opportunistic infections, improve the quality of life, and minimize the spread of the disease to others. Treatment generally includes medications. Hospitalization may be necessary if a person has serious complications, such as meningitis or an opportunistic infection. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of AIDS. ...more »

AIDS: Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the result of an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This virus attacks ... more about AIDS.

AIDS: A term given to HIV patients who have a low CD4 count (below 200) which means that they have low levels of a type of immune cell called T-cells. AIDS patients tend to develop opportunistic infections and cancers. Opportunistic infections are infections that would not normally affect a person with a healthy immune system. The HIV virus is a virus that attacks the body's immune system. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of AIDS is available below.

AIDS: Symptoms

The symptoms of HIV infection, which causes AIDS, are the result of HIV attacking the cells of the body's immune system. Early in the disease, many people with HIV infection have no symptoms. Some people may experience flu-like symptoms that occur about four to eight weeks after infection. Symptoms may include swollen glands, fever, headache and fatigue.

These symptoms ...more symptoms »

AIDS: Treatments

Treatment of AIDS starts with prevention of HIV infection. Preventive measures include seeking regular medical care throughout the lifetime. Regular medical care allows a health care professional to best evaluate symptoms and the risks of catching HIV infection and regularly test for it as needed. These measures greatly increase your chances of catching and ...more treatments »

AIDS: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of the AIDS can easily be missed or delayed because there are often no symptoms in the early stages of HIV infection, and the infected person may be unaware of it. Embarrassment and not being honest with a health care provider about sexual activity can also delay a diagnosis. In addition, some symptoms of HIV infection, such as weight loss and flu ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of AIDS

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to AIDS:

Wrongly Diagnosed with AIDS?

AIDS: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and AIDS.

Alternative Treatments for AIDS

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for AIDS may include:

Curable Types of AIDS

Possibly curable types of AIDS include:

  • Pneumocystitis carinii pneumonia related AIDS
  • Tuberculosis related AIDS
  • Toxoplasmosis related AIDS
  • Herpes zoster related AIDS
  • Hemophiliacs related AIDS
  • more types...»

Rare Types of AIDS:

Rare types of AIDS include:

  • Pneumocystitis carinii pneumonia related AIDS
  • Tuberculosis related AIDS
  • Toxoplasmosis related AIDS
  • Kaposi sarcoma related AIDS
  • Cryptosporidiosis related AIDS
  • more types...»

AIDS: Complications

Read more about complications of AIDS.

Causes of AIDS

Read more about causes of AIDS.

More information about causes of AIDS:

Disease Topics Related To AIDS

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, AIDS:

AIDS: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and AIDS

Chronic lung diseases hard to diagnose: Some of the chronic lung diseases are difficult to diagnose. Even the well-knowns conditions such as asthma or lung cancer often fail to be diagnosed early. Some more »

Hospitals & Clinics: AIDS

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to AIDS:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to AIDS, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Prognosis for AIDS

Prognosis for AIDS: AIDS is fatal without treatment

Research about AIDS

Visit our research pages for current research about AIDS treatments.

Statistics for AIDS

AIDS: Broader Related Topics

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about AIDS, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Article Excerpts about AIDS

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is the result of an infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This virus attacks selected cells of the immune, nervous, and other systems impairing their proper function. (Source: excerpt from NINDS Neurological Manifestations of AIDS Information Page: NINDS)

Definitions of AIDS:

A syndrome resulting from the acquired deficiency of cellular immunity caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It is characterized by the reduction of the Helper T-lymphocytes in the peripheral blood and the lymph nodes; opportunistic infections (usually pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections, tuberculosis, candida infections, and cryptococcosis); and the development of malignant neoplasms (usually non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and Kaposi's sarcoma). The human immunodeficiency virus is transmitted through sexual contact, sharing of contaminated needles, or transfusion of contaminated blood. Generalized lymphadenopathy, fever, weight loss, and chronic diarrhea are common symptoms of AIDS. The patients usually die either of opportunistic infections or malignant neoplasms. -- 2004 - (Source - Diseases Database)


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