Healthy Living

What Causes AIDS?

What Causes AIDS?

Key Takeaways

  • Origin of AIDS
  • How humans contract AIDS
  • Causes of AIDS

The Origin of AIDS

AIDS is caused by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). Thus, it is not possible to get AIDS without having HIV first. HIV is a retrovirus that is thought to come from chimpanzees. HIV is said to originate from Africa, where humans hunted chimpanzees and came in contact with their blood.

The earliest known case of HIV was in 1959, when there was a blood sample collected from a man in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is then that scientists determined that the HIV virus started in the late 1940s or early 1950s. It was somewhat contained for many years until connections became global in Africa and the virus became worldwide.

It wasn't until the mid to late 1970s that the virus reached the United States. Doctors reported strange pneumonia, cancer, and other illnesses that male patients contracted. These were male patients that had sexual acts with other males. In 1982, public health officials began to use the term "acquired immunodeficiency syndrome," or AIDS, to describe the occurrences.

Then, in 1983, scientists discovered the virus that caused AIDS. The international scientific committee determined that the virus HIV caused AIDS. There is still no cure for HIV, but there has been extensive research and testing for a cure. Even today, there is still ongoing research and dedicated organizations that are looking for a cure to HIV and AIDS.

How do humans contract AIDS?

AIDS is most commonly transmitted through sexual acts. It is usually contracted through unprotected sex with a partner who has HIV. This is usually when body fluids, such as semen, vaginal fluids, or blood, come in contact with someone who does not have HIV. It is still possible for someone to become infected, even if there are only tiny amounts of these fluids being in contact with another person.

People who already have an STD, or sexually transmitted disease, are at even more risk to contract HIV, which will then lead to AIDS. HIV can be spread sexually from a male to a female, a female to a male, a male to a male, and a female to a female. Therefore, anybody can be infected.

Another way people can get HIV is through sharing needles. When people share needles, the blood can be transmitted and will lead to infection. Sharing needles is very serious and can lead to serious infections, such as HIV, from someone who is already infected.

There is no need to worry about blood transplants, as all blood in the United States is carefully tested for any viruses and HIV. The last way is a little uncommon in the United States. Newborn babies are at risk for getting HIV if their mother has HIV. If the mother has HIV and she breastfeeds, then the babies can become infected. That is why it is always best for pregnant women to get tested for HIV in order to receive treatment.

Highlighting the causes

The retrovirus HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, can manifest itself brutally in the form of AIDS. Knowing what causes the infection or the knowledge of the point of contraction can help in getting timely treatment. The virus causes an infection that could lead to AIDS at some point in time.

The structure of the virus is such that it keeps changing rapidly through different stages. Believed to have originated in Africa, the virus has now spread and caused AIDS among a rather large population of people. There are some myths surrounding the contraction of AIDS, and they ought to be busted. Knowing the right reasons that cause AIDS will help to prevent its spread.

When an infected person is in touch with someone through holding hands, hugging, sharing utensils, or even kissing, they will not pass on the infection. However, the infection spreads through sexual contact, vaginal discharges, or semen entering the other person’s body. It could be through anal, vaginal, or oral sex, especially if the partner has a cut, wound, or tear in the skin, which can spread the infection quickly.

Another common misconception is that AIDS is airborne. It is not. It can only spread through sexual contact, infected needles, and similar factors. If an infected mother breastfeeds her child, she can pass the virus down to her child. Thus, thorough screening and check-ups are done for infected mothers. They are then subjected to treatment and medication to lower the risk of passing the infection on to their babies.

Some of the other known causes are sharing of needles, which are used for taking drugs, making tattoos, and similar usages. These needles, if infected, will straight away pass on the disease into the receiver’s blood stream.

Age is not a factor

There is no particular age of contracting HIV. When the symptoms appear, it makes sense to get a very thorough check-up done and start the treatment with immediate effect. Having sex without protection greatly increases the chances of infection and spread to the partner. People who have multiple sex partners, at any age, are at a higher risk of infection.

Circumcision is another factor. A man who has not been circumcised has more chances of infection. Sometimes, other sexually transmitted diseases could predispose people to the condition. They might leave scars or sores through which HIV could enter the body.

Sex education, awareness of the condition, symptoms, methods of spread, and precautions are all important in the process of prevention. It should be mandatory to teach all children the right techniques and educate them about the possible risks and outcomes. They say curiosity kills the cat, but awareness kills curiosity and the urge to try something new without having proper knowledge of it.

It is important that you read up on AIDS and what it is all about to keep yourself informed about the issue. While it may seem unlikely for you to get AIDS, the fact remains that AIDS can be spread in multiple ways from infected blood bank supplies to being intimate with another person.

Symptoms of AIDS

The symptoms of the disease vary widely, and since it is a immune disorder, you could end up suffering from various infections as a result of AIDS. This is exactly why the symptoms can vary widely from one case to another. However, here are some general indications and ones as for why it is important that you seek effective medial counseling for the same.

  • Body rash, if you have started experiencing body rash for no reason whatsoever, then it is time that you consulted a medical professional regarding the same.
  • Fever, if you are experiencing high fever, then you need to pay your doctor a visit. While several conditions can cause you to experience raging fevers, AIDS can also cause you to experience the same. Therefore, it is important that you get yourself tested at the earliest so that the doctor can confirm the diagnosis. If you are confirmed as having AIDS, then it is time you get started on your treatment process for the same right away. Your doctor would immediately put you on several powerful antibiotics and ensure that you are monitored round the clock.
  • Sore throat, if you are experiencing sore throat, as well, and it continues to be persistent despite taking several antibiotics, then it could be an indication of something serious. You need to consult a doctor and get it sorted out. At the same time, get yourself screened for AIDS and make sure that you get an effective treatment at the earliest. The diagnosis can take a while, but with effective testing methods available nowadays, you should be able to find out if you have AIDS or if the sore throat is on account of something else.
  • A severe headache, if you are experiencing severe headaches, then it is time that you sought medical consult at the earliest. The doctor may recommend a whole battery of tests to help identify the reason behind your headaches, and you would also be checked for AIDS, as well. It would be a good idea to have a loved one at hand to provide you with the emotional support you need at this time. Once the doctor informs you regarding the diagnosis, he should then be able to provide you with all the information on AIDS and how to handle it. Your doctor should discuss the medications, side effects, and the changes to your lifestyle that you need to adopt. The process can seem overwhelming, and that’s why it is important to have a loved one or a friend at hand to provide you with the support and love you need during this process.
  • Fatigue, if you find that you are experiencing fatigue for prolonged periods of time, then it is time that you went to the doctor and got yourself checked out at the earliest. The doctor should be able to provide you with an accurate diagnosis once all tests are carried out. The doctor would be carrying out several tests to help determine the underlying cause for your fatigue. With all the tests being done, you can count on an accurate diagnosis. Once the doctor has determined that you have AIDS, he would begin the counseling process of enabling you to deal with AIDS. The counseling process is mandatory, and usually the doctor would use this to advise you about AIDS, the treatment process for the same, and the changes to your lifestyle and the prognosis.
  • Ulcers in the mouth, as well as genitals, if you find that you are experiencing a lot of ulcers in the mouth as well as in and around the genital area, then you should seek an immediate medical consult. Schedule one at the earliest, and make sure that you take a loved one along with you when you visit the doctor. The doctor would run several tests to ensure that diagnosis, and once confirmed, he will inform you regarding the same. He would then counsel you about the disease, the prognosis, and the course of treatment and what it entails. You would also have to make sudden lifestyle changes on account of the same.
  • Joint painif you find that you are experiencing constant joint pain and even the pain killers are not effective, then you need to consult a doctor right away. There are several reasons as to why you may be suffering from persistent joint pain and your doctor would run a full panel of tests to rule out most of them. He would also test you for AIDS, as well, and upon confirmation, he would advise you regarding the same. AIDS itself is not a disease but a condition, and you would be required to make a few lifestyle changes, as well.
  • Nausea and vomiting, if you find that you are experiencing frequent bouts of nausea and vomiting, you need to check in with your doctor right away. Your doctor would run several tests and check it out for signs of various health conditions, including AIDS. If confirmed, he would then advise you regarding the condition, the treatment process, the cure, and the fact that you would need a support group to help you with it. This is why it is important that you take a loved one when visiting the doctor, since they can provide you the emotional and physical support you need to help you deal with AIDS.

AIDS is a formidable condition and one for which there is still no cure. However, some of the symptoms of the disease can be effectively managed with the new set of drugs. This is why it is important that you get yourself tested at the earliest so as to enable you to seek effective treatment for the same.

The bottom line

While the cure for HIV is still unknown, it is still possible for people with HIV to live long healthy lives. With the right treatment and medication, the HIV virus can be controlled, thus preventing it to progress into AIDS. It is best to seek medical attention immediately if you think you may have acquired the virus. Contact a local medical office to get tested for HIV and AIDS if anything is wrong.