Human Immunodeficiency Virus / Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
St. Johns River State College
Human immunodeficiency virus, also known as HIV, is the leading cause of AIDS which
stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS is a potential life-changing condition
that currently has no cure. Before an individual is diagnosed with AIDS, they are diagnosed with
HIV first. When the virus attacks the immune system, the body’s ability to fight the infectious
organisms of the syndrome is interfered with. HIV is also considered a STI or a sexually
transmitted infection. The most common ways the virus can spread is through contact with
infected blood or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or even breastfeeding. If no
medication is taken, HIV may weaken an individual’s immune system within a few years to the
severe point where the person now has AIDS. As stated before, there are currently no known
cure for HIV/AIDS, but there is medication that can drastically slow down the disease which has
decreased the deaths of AIDS in developed nations.
During the early stages of being diagnosed with HIV, there are usually no obvious signs.
People who are infected with it do not know right away so they might not know they have it. As
a result, it may take years before they realize it and feel sick. People may feel completely fine
and healthy in the beginning because in some cases, it can take ten or more years before the
symptoms are noticed. As a result, it is important to be regularly tested for HIV especially if
unprotected sex is a factor.
When the symptoms do begin to show, the symptoms are flu-like and the infected
individual can experience fevers, aches, and sickness. These early symptoms are the body’s first
initial reaction to the HIV. It is at this point where there are major amounts of the virus in the
body’s system so the probability of spreading the disease is high. The early symptoms can last
weeks or months before they go away and then not experience them until years later. Whether or
not the less severe symptoms of having a fever, aches, and feeling sick are experienced, HIV can
still spread to other people.
As time progresses and the human immunodeficiency virus continuously damages the
immune system, the virus will result in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. When HIV
destroys CD4+ cells, also known as T cells, the body has a difficult time trying to fight off
diseases. As a result, the body is more vulnerable to diseases that otherwise would not hurt the
infected. When someone has AIDS, it is usually due to rare or opportunistic infections, certain
types of cancers, or a high amount of CD4+ cells lost. This usually happens after having HIV for
ten or more years without needed treatment. Having treatment can delay or even inhibit the
development of AIDS.
The symptoms for AIDS are actually more severe than the early stages of HIV because of
the advancement and development of HIV. When someone has AIDS, they can...