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Short Note on HIV/AIDS: Causes and Transmission



AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) AIDS is the name given to the late stages of HIV infection, first discovered in 1981 in Los Angeles, California. By 1983 the retrovirus responsible for it, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), was first described, and since then millions around the world have died from contracting the disease. It is thought to have originated in central Africa from monkeys or to have developed from contaminated vaccines used in the world’s first mass immunization for polio.

How AIDS is caused?

AIDS is acquired mostly by sexual contact either through homo- or heterosexual practice by having unprotected sex via vaginal or anal intercourse. The routes of infection include infected blood, semen, and vaginal fluid. The virus can also be transmitted by blood by-products, through maternofetal infection (where the virus is transmitted by an infected mother to the unborn child in the uterus), or by maternal blood during parturition, or by breast milk consumption upon birth. Intravenous drug abuse also is a cause.

What does AIDS attack:

The virus destroys a subgroup of lymphocytes, essential for combating infections, known as the helper

T cells, or CD4 lymphocytes, and suppresses the body’s immune system, leaving it prone to infection.

Infection by the virus produces antibodies, but not all those exposed develop chronic infection. For those that do, AIDS or AIDS-related complex (ARC) bring on a variety of ailments involving the lymph nodes, intermittent fever, loss of weight, diarrhoea, fatigue, pneumonia, and tumors. A person infected, known as

HIV-positive, can remain disease-free for up to 10 years, as the virus can remain dormant before fullblown AIDS develops.

Transmission of VIRUS outside human body:

While HIV has been isolated from bodily fluids such as semen to breast milk, the virus does not survive outside the body, and it is considered highly unlikely that ordinary social contact can spread the disease.


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