The humankind remains unprotected and vulnerable to various incurable, insidious and life-threatening diseases despite the incredible development in medicine. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is one of such illnesses. For many years, the scientists have been fighting a battle against the disease, but they have not succeeded in finding an effective remedy for it. For this reason, the most important precautionary measure is an awareness of the population regarding HIV and how to prevent the risks. The paper will focus on the origin of the illness, its symptoms, and the harm it does to a human body.
For the first time, the information regarding HIV was announced in 1983. The scientists discovered two forms of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. Luc Montagnier and his colleagues found HIV-1 at the Institute Pasteur in Paris in 1983 and “HIV-2 was first identified among patients in Cameroon in 1985” (Human Immunodeficiency Virus and HIV Disease, 2001). The human immunodeficiency virus becomes a pathogenic agent that is called HIV. The disease progresses slowly increasing the strength of the virus present inside the human body with every stage. The scientists mark three stages of the sickness development that have the distinct features.
Flu symptoms characterize the initial stage of the HIV infection. The first symptoms of HIV infection resemble acute respiratory viral infection: one can have a fever, swollen lymph nodes, permanent fatigue, somnolence, eye pain, and headache. A person may suffer from photophobia, rash, cough, and imply has a running nose. The second latent stage can last for a long period of time without any symptoms if a person does not even suspect being infected with HIV. During this time, one may notice stabilization and regard patient’s health status as satisfactory. The period of the latent (chronic) state varies from 12 to 20 years, though there are fatal cases in one or two years after being infected. The only feature of the second stage is swollenness of the lymph nodes. Finally, the third stage of HIV infection is called AIDS (the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) within which the immune system is suppressed and unable to fulfill its defense functions properly. A sick person feels immune deficit greatly. The deficiency causes progress of other diseases. Different bacteria, fungi, viruses can affect organs of the body and develop complications which can be fatal.
HIV belongs to a retrovirus subfamily that is named lentivirus or so-called passive viruses. This virus can infect the humans during contacts with organ tissues or through damages on the skins (wounds, scratches, ulcers). There can be a substantial period of time between the moment of infection and the first signs of the disease. In the case of coming into blood circulation, HIV selectively attaches to the lymphocytes, especially to the white blood cells responsible for the immune response and memory. HIV duplicates within the cells at a high speed before the immune system is capable of recognizing the virus. HIV penetrates inside the immune system “by destroying CD4 positive (CD4+) T cells” and as a consequence of such destruction, people infected with HIV become “vulnerable to other infections, diseases and other complications” (HIV/AIDS Overview., n.d.). Primarily, the virus attacks lymph nodes because there is the major part of the immune cells.
Once HIV enters a human body, the virus can be identified in various fluids and tissues in the human body. “The virus can be found in blood, semen, fluids from the vagina, and breast milk, in saliva, tears, and spinal fluid” (HIV/AIDS. Health Topics, n.d.). There are certain ways of getting HIV: sexual, contact with infected blood, virus transmission from a mother to a child during pregnancy, child delivery, or lactation. There are definite HIV risk groups which consist of drug addicts, persons with several sexual partners, people who lead unsecured sexual relationships, unprotected anal sex, infants of the infected mothers, homosexuals, people with sexually-transmitted diseases, etc. It is already a well-known fact that there is no remedy for HIV, but the scientists have succeeded in developing the “medications that can dramatically slow down the progression of the disease” and as a result cut down the quantity of the fatal cases caused by HIV (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2016).
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Therefore, people can come to the conclusion that HIV still belongs to the incurable, dangerous diseases that jeopardize human lives. At the same time, if a person is well-informed regarding the risks, one can secure oneself and avoid contamination.