December 12, 2006

India is one of the largest and most populated countries in the world, with over one billion inhabitants. Of this number, at least five million are currently living with HIV. According to some estimates, India has a greater number of people living with HIV than any other nation in the world as per UNAIDS, 2006 Report on the global AIDS epidemic .

The crisis continues to deepen, as it becomes clearer that the epidemic is affecting all sectors of Indian society, not just the groups – such as sex workers and truck drivers – that it was originally associated with.

At the beginning of 1986, despite over 20,000 reported AIDS cases worldwide , India had no reported cases of HIV or AIDS.Later in the year, India’s first cases of HIV were diagnosed among sex workers in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. It was noted that contact with foreign visitors had played a role in initial infections among sex workers, and as HIV screening centres were set up across the country there were calls for visitors to be screened for HIV.

In 1987 a National AIDS Control Programme was launched to co-ordinate national responses. Its activities covered surveillance, blood screening, and health education. By the end of 1987, out of 52,907 who had been tested, around 135 people were found to be HIV positive and 14 had AIDS. Most of these initial cases had occurred through heterosexual sex, but at the end of the 1980s a rapid spread of HIV was observed among injecting drug users in Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland – three north-eastern states of India bordering Myanmar (Burma).

A 2004 NACO report revealed that the total number of people living with HIV had risen from 0.2 million in 1990 to 3.86 million in 2000. By 2003, 5.1 million infections had been reported.


When to seek medical advice

December 10, 2006

If you think you may have been infected with HIV or are at risk of contracting the virus, seek medical counseling as soon as possible. Tests are available that can determine your status. The idea of being tested for HIV infection is frightening for many people.Testing itself doesn’t make you HIV-positive or HIV-negative and is important not only for your own health but also to prevent transmission of the virus to others.
Now a days more and more peole are getting themselves tested just to make sure the disease does not spread.
Mind you, till now prevention is the only option available to mankind.

Who Is At Risk ?

December 7, 2006

Anyone of any age, race, sex or sexual orientation can be infected, but you’re at greatest risk of HIV/AIDS if you:

* Have unprotected sex with multiple partners. You’re at risk whether you’re heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. Unprotected sex means having sex without using a new latex or polyurethane condom every time.
* Have unprotected sex with someone who is HIV-positive.
* Have another sexually transmitted disease, such as syphilis, herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea or bacterial vaginosis.
* Share needles during intravenous drug use.
* Received a blood transfusion or blood products before 1985.
* Have fewer copies of a gene called CCL3L1 that helps fight HIV infection.

Newborns or nursing infants whose mothers tested positive for HIV but did not receive treatment also are at high risk.

The ways virus can be transmitted are :

1. Sexual transmission.
You may become infected if you have vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected partner whose blood, semen or vaginal secretions enter your body. You can also become infected from shared sexual devices.
The virus is present in the semen or vaginal secretions of someone who’s infected and enters your body through small tears that can develop in the rectum or vagina during sexual activity. If you already have another sexually transmitted disease, you’re at much greater risk of contracting HIV. Contrary to what researchers once believed, women who use the spermicide nonoxynol-9 (used as a contraceptive)also may be at increased risk. This spermicide irritates the lining of the vagina and may cause tears that allow the virus into the body.

2. Transmission through infected blood.
In some cases, the virus may be transmitted through blood and blood products that you receive in blood transfusions. This includes whole blood, packed red cells, fresh-frozen plasma and platelets. In 1985, American hospitals and blood banks began screening the blood supply for HIV antibodies. This blood testing, along with improvements in donor screening and recruitment practices, has substantially reduced the risk of acquiring HIV through a transfusion.

3. Transmission through needle sharing.
HIV is easily transmitted through needles and syringes contaminated with infected blood. Sharing intravenous drug paraphernalia puts you at high risk of HIV and other infectious diseases such as hepatitis. Your risk is greater if you inject drugs frequently or also engage in high-risk sexual behavior. Avoiding the use of injected drugs is the most reliable way to prevent infection.

4. Transmission from mother to child.
Each year, nearly 600,000 infants are infected with HIV, either during pregnancy or delivery or through breast-feeding. The rate of mother-to-child transmission in resource-poor countries is as much as 40 percent higher than it is in the developed world. But if women receive treatment for HIV infection during pregnancy, the risk to their babies is significantly reduced. Combinations of HIV drugs may reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission even more.

It does not transmit by :

*Hand Shakes
*Socialising with infected persons
*Hugging and Social Kissing
*Sharing clothes
*Sharing Utensils or Dining Together

*Businesses and other settings :
There is no known risk of HIV transmission to co-workers, clients, or consumers from contact in industries such as food-service establishments. Food-service workers known to be infected with HIV need not be restricted from work unless they have other infections or illnesses (such as diarrhea or hepatitis A) for which any food-service worker, regardless of HIV infection status, should be restricted.

*Insects (I am going into greater detail on this topic as most of us are scared stiff on this issue.)

From the onset of the HIV epidemic, there has been concern about transmission of the virus by biting and bloodsucking insects. However, studies conducted by researchers at CDC and elsewhere have shown no evidence of HIV transmission through insects–even in areas where there are many cases of AIDS and large populations of insects such as mosquitoes

The results of experiments and observations of insect biting behavior indicate that when an insect bites a person, it does not inject its own or a previously bitten person’s or animal’s blood into the next person bitten. Rather, it injects saliva, which acts as a lubricant or anticoagulant so the insect can feed efficiently. Diseases as yellow fever and malaria are transmitted through the saliva of specific species of mosquitoes. However, HIV lives for only a short time inside an insect and, unlike organisms that are transmitted via insect bites, HIV does not reproduce (and does not survive) in insects. Thus, even if the virus enters a mosquito or another sucking or biting insect, the insect does not become infected and cannot transmit HIV to the next human it feeds on or bites. HIV is not found in insect feces.

There is also no reason to fear that a biting or bloodsucking insect, such as a mosquito, could transmit HIV from one person to another through HIV-infected blood left on its mouth parts. Two factors serve to explain why this is so–first, infected people do not have constant, high levels of HIV in their bloodstreams and, second, insect mouth parts do not retain large amounts of blood on their surfaces. Further, scientists who study insects have determined that biting insects normally do not travel from one person to the next immediately after ingesting blood. Rather, they fly to a resting place to digest this blood meal.

If you feel there are other topics which should be included or if there is a need for explanation on a specific topic please let me know.

How the virus works ?

December 7, 2006

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the virus that cause AIDS. There are three variants: HIV-1, HIV-2, HIV type O. HIV -1 is by the far the most common worldwide.

White blood cells and antibodies attack and destroy foreign organisms that enter your body. This response is coordinated by white blood cells known as CD4 lymphocytes. These lymphocytes are also the main targets of HIV, which attaches to the cells and then enters them. Once inside, the virus inserts its own genetic material into the lymphocytes and uses them to make copies of itself.

When the new copies of the virus break out of the host cells and enter the bloodstream, they search for other cells to attack. In the meantime, the old host cells and some uninfected CD4 cells die from the effects of the virus. The cycle repeats itself again and again. In the process, billions of new HIV particles are produced every day.

This way it destroys a vital body function which protects us and also enables us to recover from disease.

What is AIDS ?

December 7, 2006

AIDS is a chronic, life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging or destroying the cells of your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to effectively fight off viruses, bacteria and fungi that cause various disease. This makes you more susceptible to certain types of cancers and to opportunistic infections your body would normally resist, such as pneumonia and meningitis. The virus and the infection itself are known as HIV. The term Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is used to mean the later stages of an HIV infection.

June 5, 1981, (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) MMWR published a report of
five cases of Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) among previously healthy
young men in Los Angeles . All of the men were described as “homosexuals”; two
had died. Local clinicians and the Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer
stationed at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, prepared the
report and submitted it for MMWR publication in early May 1981. Before publication, MMWR editorial staff sent the submission to CDC experts in parasitic and sexually transmitted diseases. The editorial note that accompanied the published report stated that the case histories suggested a “cellular-immune dysfunction related to a common exposure” and a
“disease acquired through sexual contact.” The report prompted additional case reports from New York City, San Francisco, and other cities. At about the same time, CDC’s investigation drug unit, the sole distributor of pentamidine, the therapy for PCP, began to receive requests for the drug from physicians also to treat young men. In June 1981, CDC developed an investigative team to identify risk factors and to develop a case definition for national surveillance. Within 18 months, epidemiologists conducted studies and prepared MMWR reports that identified all of the major risks factors for acquired immnodeficiency syndrome
(AIDS). In March 1983, CDC issued recommendations for prevention of sexual,
drug-related, and occupational transmission based on these early epidemiologic
studies and before the cause of the new, unexplained illness was known.

In the 25 years since the first reports of the disease, AIDS has become a global
epidemic. Worldwide, an estimated 38.6 million people are living with HIV,
nearly half of them women and girls between the ages of 15 and 24. And though
the spread of the virus has slowed in some countries, it has escalated or
remained steady in others. In 2005, more than 4 million people were newly
infected with HIV; 25 million have died of AIDS since the epidemic began.

Despite improved treatments and better access to care for people in the
hardest-hit parts of the world, most experts agree that the pandemic is still in
the early stages. With a vaccine probably decades away, the best hope for
stemming the spread of HIV now lies in prevention through education.

Signs and Symptoms

December 7, 2006

The symptoms of HIV and AIDS vary, depending on the phase of infection. When first infected with HIV, you may have no symptoms at all, although it’s more common to develop a brief flu-like illness two to six weeks after becoming infected.

Even if you don’t have symptoms (even upto eight – nine years), you’re still able to transmit the virus to others. Once the virus enters your body, your own immune system also comes under attack.As the virus continues to spread you may develop mild chronic symptoms such as:

* Swollen lymph nodes — often one of the first signs of HIV infection
* Diarrhea
* Weight loss
* Fever
* Cough and shortness of breath

In 1993, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) redefined AIDS to mean the presence of HIV infection as shown by a positive HIV-antibody test plus at least one of the following:

* The development of an opportunistic infection — an infection that occurs when your immune system is impaired — such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP)
* A CD4 lymphocyte count of 200 or less — a normal count ranges from 600 to 1,000

Some of the signs that may indicate severe HIV infection or AIDS are:

* Soaking night sweats
* Shaking chills or fever higher than 100 F for several weeks
* Dry cough and shortness of breath
* Chronic diarrhea
* Persistent white spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth
* Headaches
* Blurred and distorted vision
* Weight loss
* Persistent, unexplained fatigue
* Soaking night sweats
* Shaking chills or fever higher than 100 F for several weeks
* Swelling of lymph nodes for more than three months
* Chronic diarrhea
* Persistent headaches

Children who are HIV-positive often fail to gain weight or grow normally. As the disease progresses, they may have difficulty walking or delayed mental development. In addition to being susceptible to the same opportunistic infections that adults are, children may have severe forms of common childhood illnesses such as ear infections (otitis media), pneumonia and tonsillitis.


December 7, 2006

 It is said that the best way to overcome fear of something is to know about it. Mankind always had a mixed feeling about the unknown. But once you know about it, gone is the fear and you began to poke it for possibilities.
I have tried to do the same for AIDS.

"AIDS" .The word itself causes a shiver run down
the spine of many. Most of us are scared of it.I wanted to know about and have
tried to write down what I understand of it. May be a few of you find it useful.