AIDS: WHAT IS AIDS?
Definition: What is "AIDS"?
AIDS means Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome which means that the person may get infected by the disease & it will then cause a weakening of his system that resists or fights disease. The disease is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV. When the person gets infected by the virus & the body creates its own "antibodies" to fight off the infection, it is when he is called HIV positive. Thus, the person is called HIV positive when he has these HIV antibodies. However, being HIV positive is different from having AIDS. It is common to find HIV positive person who have lived for many years without getting AIDS although AIDS is generally developed from HIV. A person may get infected with HIV through different ways, such as through blood infection & through semen or vaginal fluids. Thus, having sex with a person with HIV, receiving blood or using the same syringe with the person with HIV may result into getting infected. A child usually gets infected with HIV if the mother has the virus. According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) it is estimated that there are around 1.2 million persons in the US are infected with HIV virus or have AIDS. Despite the number, the death rate due to AIDS has been reduced significantly since the time when it was the leading cause of death in the 90s. This is because of the new treatments available at present. HIV becomes AIDS when the immune system of the person infected with HIV is severely damaged. Thus, a person with no more than 200 CD 4 cells (less than 14% CD4 cells) in his body has AIDS. IF the person has AIDS he is more likely to get Pneumocystis pneumonia (PC), a certain lung infection; a Kaposi's sarcoma, a skin cancer; a Cytomegalovirus or infection affecting the eyes & Candida or a fungal infection in the mouth or infections in the throat or vagina. These infections are called opportunistic infections or infections which take advantage of the weak immune system. There is no known cure for AIDS however, at present there are available drugs which slows then development or progress of the HIV virus. At the same time these drugs slows down the effect or the damage done by the HIV to the immune system. There are also other drugs to help the patient treat or prevent the opportunistic infections. The latest drugs available are very effective in reducing the rate of the common opportunistic infections