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Despite all the advancements in the field of medicine, a cure for AIDS still continues to elude researchers around the world. It is one of the most fatal diseases in the world today and caused the deaths of around 2.8 million people in 2005. And yet there is an appalling lack of knowledge about the disease amongst the hoi polloi.
What is AIDS?
AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a disease affecting the immune system of human beings and is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The virus impairs the proper functioning of the immune system, making the infected individual susceptible to various infections and tumors.
What Causes AIDS?
Knowing what causes AIDS is the best chance to avoid contracting this yet now deadly disease.
The AIDS-causing HIV is spread through unprotected sexual intercourse (anal, vaginal and oral sex to be precise) with an infected individual, from a mother to her unborn child and also through breast-feeding of an infant, through contaminated syringes and during blood transfusion. That is to say, the HIV is most liable to spread through mucous membrane or bloodstream contact with infected bodily fluid.
The Complications Of AIDS
A weakened immune system makes an individual vulnerable to even the slightest of infections caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. As such there are no specific symptoms of AIDS. But AIDS-afflicted persons are at far greater risk of getting stricken with various forms of cancer like that of the cervix, Kaposi’s Sarcoma and also lymphomas.
And being basically immunologically fragile, someone afflicted with AIDS usually suffers from niggling fevers, chills, profuse sweating particularly at night, an overall weakness, weight loss problems and other common symptoms of infection.
Treatment Of AIDS
Till now AIDS has no cure. There are only treatments that help prolonging the life span of the sufferer to some extent. The most prevalent form of AIDS treatment is the four weeklong antiretroviral therapy or post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) which guarantees an average survival time of five years. But it needs to be mentioned that for this therapy to be optimally effective, it should be commenced upon immediately after an exposure to the virus.
Recent scientific developments however have come up with the highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, which has proved quite effective for many patients.
But still, prevention remains the best cure.
The Myths Surrounding AIDS
Because so precious little is known about AIDS and given its fatality, there are hordes of myths surrounding the disease. And what is more, these myths have propagated various discriminatory behaviors amidst the masses. That AIDS can be contracted through casual contact, that only homosexuals and drug addicts have AIDS and that intercourse with a virgin will cure AIDS, are all myths that need to be expounded.
They say, knowledge is power and it is only to be hoped that greater awareness about AIDS will help prevent the spread of the disease.
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