Virtually unknown 20 years ago, it has now reached into every corner of society, affecting parents children, teachers, health workers, white, black, rich, poor. I am talking about the leading cause of death in Sub-Sahara Africa - I am talking about the epidemic that has cut life expectancy by more than 10 years - yes I am talking about HIV/AIDS.
So what is AIDS and HIV?.
AIDS or (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a condition caused by a virus called HIV. This virus attacks the immune system, the body's "Security Force- that fights of infections. When the immune system breaks down, you lose the protection and develop many serious often-deadly infections and cancers. These are called "opportunistic infections- because they take advantage of the body's weakened defenses. You have heard it said that someone "died of AIDS-. This is not entirely accurate, since it is the opportunistic infections that cause death. AIDS is only the condition that lets the opportunistic infections take hold.
So what is HIV?.
HIV is a virus like flu or cold. A virus is really nothing else but a set of instructions for making new viruses, wrapped in some fat, protein and sugar. Without living cells, a virus can't do anything - it's like a brain without a body. In order to make more viruses, a virus has to infect a cell. HIV mostly infects white blood cells, also known as T-cells, which turns on the immune system to fight the disease. Once inside the cell, HIV starts producing millions of little viruses, which eventually kills the cell, and then goes out to infect other cells. All of the drugs market today to tread HIV works by interfering with this process.
So what are the Symptoms of HIV.
In the period immediately after infection has taken place there aren't any specific symptoms. Within two to four weeks after exposure to HIV, you might have flu-like symptoms such as fever, swollen glands, muscle aches, diarrhea, fatigue or rash.