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What is AIDS? What is HIV? How Is AIDS Treated?

Sunday, October 10, 2021

What is AIDS?

AIDS is a syndrome that develops when HIV-positive people do not receive any treatment, and the rate of some white blood cells in the blood reaches very low levels in the later stages of their lives, the immune system collapses and they become vulnerable to many other diseases and infections. A healthy patient has between 500-1600 CD4 cells per cubic millimeter of blood. This number drops to 0 in individuals who develop AIDS.
AIDS develops due to the HIV virus. However, not every HIV-positive person becomes AIDS. As long as it is treated, the probability of the disease coming to this stage is very low. It is possible to start treatment when AIDS develops in people, however, an effective result can be obtained as in the treatment that starts with early diagnosis.


HIV is a virus that was identified in 1981 and is transmitted from person to person through blood and some body fluids. It is named as Human Immunodeficiency Virus because it is a virus that attacks the immune system of people and reduces the number of white blood cells in the blood.
For this reason, patients mostly die not because of the virus itself, but because of other infections or diseases such as cancer, which the immune system weakened by the virus cannot prevent. However, today, many methods can be used to control the virus and prevent situations that end in death.

What is HIV?

HIV is the longest-running epidemic in the world to date. There is no definitive treatment or vaccine that ensures the complete elimination of the virus from the body. HIV is transmitted through blood or through breast milk, semen, pre-ejaculation fluid, vaginal and rectal fluids. For this reason, it is a virus with a high risk of transmission through sexual intercourse.
The virus makes an acute attack within a month after entering the body and continues to multiply in the body if it is not treated afterwards. After the acute period, the disease can be silent for 10-15 years, and people do not show signs of the disease. However, people continue to transmit the disease during this period. However, AIDS, which is the third and most advanced level of the disease, has not yet developed in these people.
If left untreated, the disease progresses to the third stage, and people's immune systems weaken, making them vulnerable to other infections and diseases. For this reason, patients start drug treatment immediately after the infection is detected, so they can continue their lives in a healthy way, get married and have children before the disease progresses to the third stage.

What is the Prevalence of AIDS in the World?

According to 2019 data, 38 million people in the world are HIV positive. In 2019, 1.7 million people were infected with HIV. 25.4 million of these people have access to HIV drugs (Antiretroviral-ART) and are receiving treatment. 690,000 people died from AIDS-related diseases in 2019.

What Are the Symptoms of HIV?

Symptoms of the disease vary according to the stage. There is an acute period in which many other viral infection-like symptoms appear within 15-20 days following the person's exposure to the virus. The symptoms observed during this period are as follows:
• Fire
• chills
• Throat ache
• Swelling in lymph nodes
• Rash on the body
• Mouth sores (aphtha)
• Muscle pain
• Sweating at night
In some cases, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are also observed. After this acute period, people may not have symptoms for up to 10 years, but people continue to be contagious during this period. This extinction is called the silent period. If left untreated, the disease progresses to the AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) stage.

What Are the Symptoms of AIDS?

AIDS symptoms are also similar to many other diseases such as acute HIV.
Sudden weight loss in a short time
Prolonged and incurable diarrhea
• Swollen lymph nodes
Excessive and persistent fatigue
short-term memory loss
• Fungal infections
Permanent skin lesions (can be brown, pink or purple)
Increase in neurological diseases
• Loss of balance
Mouth, anus and genital area wounds
People are also vulnerable to other infections during this period. In addition, the person's body becomes vulnerable to many diseases such as lymphoma and other types of cancer, tuberculosis, respiratory system infections, encephalitis. In cases where it is not treated, people usually die within 1-3 years due to such fatal diseases.

How is HIV Transmitted?

This virus, which is transmitted by body secretions such as blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids, fluid before ejaculation and breast milk, is mostly sexually transmitted.
It is transmitted through mucous membranes, open wounds, cuts, and injection. The mucous membrane is found in the mouth, anus and genitals. Unprotected sexual intercourse or the use of shared syringes are among the most common forms of transmission.
HIV can be transmitted through heterosexual or homosexual sexual intercourse. There is a higher risk of anal transmission.
All blood and organ transplant kits in the world have been tested against HIV for many years. However, blood, organ or tissue transplantation with untested kits carries the risk of transmitting the virus.
HIV can be transmitted from surgical instruments used without disinfection. Tools such as needles, syringes, razors, and scissors that are used in common also carry the risk of transmission.
Tattoos, acupuncture, intravenous drugs and common needle use carry a high risk.
If an HIV-positive mother is not treated, there is a risk of transmitting the virus to the baby during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding. For this reason, it is necessary to apply the necessary treatment for HIV-positive mothers who want to have a baby. The disease is not transmitted in the following ways:
• Toilet use
•Use of common cutlery
•That Insect or fly bite

How is HIV Diagnosed?

People should consult a health institution and have a test after an unprotected sexual intercourse with suspicious symptoms.
The most widely used test for HIV detection is the Anti-HIV test. This test is done by the ELIZA method. The anti-HIV test is positive after enough antibodies have been produced in the body against the virus. This process takes an average of 90 days.
Some individuals may produce antibodies earlier or later. If this test is done immediately after the virus is infected, a negative result may be obtained. For this reason, the p24 test should be performed in the first place. The p24 test measures the presence of the p24 protein in the blood, which is unique only to the HIV virus. This protein appears in the blood about 20 days after the virus is transmitted. Anti-HIV test can be done if a positive result is obtained in this test.
Patient confidentiality is essential in these tests. Tests can be performed in private outpatient clinics, public and private hospitals, and public health centers. It is included in the routine tests in order to prevent carrier cases in annual routine screenings in family health centers. If the test is positive, the patient is reported to the Ministry of Health and directed for appropriate treatment.

What is AIDS Treatment?

There is no treatment that completely clears the body from HIV. As such, the disease has turned into a chronic disease. However, at the point reached today, other diseases that may occur before and after the disease can be prevented with the help of various drugs; It is possible to prevent the virus from multiplying in the body and thus transmitting the disease and developing the disease.
Today, there are recommendations for the use of drugs for pre-exposure (prep: pre exposure propyhlaxis) and post-exposure (pep: post exposure propyhlaxis) to prevent the disease. In addition, combined drug therapy is used in the treatment of the disease (art. anti retroviral therapy.PrEP is the drugs used before contact with the virus in cases where there is a possibility of catching the virus. PEPs are used to prevent any infection situation after contact with the virus. PEP drugs, health After contact with infected blood or suspected sexual intercourse, it should be used within a maximum of 3 days from the moment the virus is suspected. ARTs are drugs that are used for life in infected individuals to keep the viral load in the blood low after early diagnosis. It prevents the HIV virus from multiplying, so that people are protected from the destructive effects of the virus on the immune system and do not transmit it to other people.

HIV and Pregnancy

HIV-positive people can marry and have children. If the mothers are HIV-positive, treatment is started three months before the birth and the baby is treated in the months following the birth. It is ensured that the mother does not breastfeed the baby and the delivery is made by cesarean section.

How Can Precautions Be Taken?

There are many precautions that people can take to avoid being infected with HIV. These include regular use of pre-contamination drugs called PrEP, avoidance of unprotected sexual intercourse, not sharing syringes or sharp and piercing tools. In case of infection, people should take ART drugs regularly to prevent infecting others and have viral load measurement regularly in the health unit where they are registered. required. The only way an infected person will not transmit the disease is if the level of the virus in their blood is too low to be detected.

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