Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome



Overview
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    AIDS (Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome) is a disease caused by a virus called HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). HIV attacks the body's immune system.
    A healthy immune system is what keeps you from getting sick. When people have AIDS, their bodies can't fight disease. They get sick easily and have trouble getting well. They usually die of an infection or cancer.
    Source: Familydoctor.org (familydoctor.org)

Causes
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    Transmission of the virus occurs:
    • Through sexual contact -- including oral, vaginal, and anal sex
    • Through blood -- via blood transfusions or needle sharing
    • From mother to child -- a pregnant woman can transmit the virus to her fetus through their shared blood circulation, or a nursing mother can transmit it to her baby in her milk

    • (Details: open / close)

    Source: RevMed.ch -06.12.2006- Edito: L'urologie, un regard du passé au futur (nlm.nih.gov)

Epidemiology
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    A total of 39.5 million people were living with HIV in 2006 (2.6 million more than in 2004). Sub-Saharan remains the most affected region in the world. Increasing numbers of women have been affected in all regions. The 17.7 million women living with HIV in 2006 represent an increase of over one million compared with 2004.
    Source: UNAIDS (data.unaids.org)

Prevention
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    The best ways to protect yourself from getting infected with HIV are to:
    • Not have sex with a person who is infected or is having sex with others.
    • Practice "safer" sex if you do have sex.
    • Not share needles and syringes.

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    Source: HIV and AIDS: How to Reduce Your Risk -- familydoctor.org (familydoctor.org)

Symptoms
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    Some people have a flu-like illness within several days to weeks after exposure to the virus. These symptoms usually disappear on their own within a few weeks. Following initial infection, you may have no symptoms from a few months to more than 10 years. During this period, the virus continues to multiply actively and infects and kills the cells (CD4 cells) of the immune system. Once the immune system weakens, a person infected with HIV can develop symptoms.
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    Source: WebMD (webmd.com)

Diagnosis
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    Screening for HIV infection is most commonly done by testing blood for HIV antibodies. A newer test, the Orasure test, involves collecting secretions between the cheek and gum and evaluating them for HIV antibodies. Finally, a new urine test is available for screening, although if the test is positive, blood tests need to be performed for confirmation of the presence of HIV.
    Source: AIDS and HIV Infection - Diagnosis of AIDS and HIV Infection (healthscout.com)

Treatment
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    According to current guidelines, treatment should focus on achieving the maximum suppression of symptoms for as long as possible. This aggressive approach is known as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). The aim of HAART is to reduce the amount of virus in your blood to very low, or even nondetectable, levels, although this doesn't mean the virus is gone. This is usually accomplished with a combination of three or more drugs.
    Antiretroviral drugs inhibit the growth and replication of HIV at various stages of its life cycle. Six classes of these drugs are available.The goal of AIDS treatment is to find the strongest possible regimen that is also simple and has the fewest side effects
    Source: MayoClinic.com (mayoclinic.com)

Living day to day
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    There are many things you can do, day to day, to stay healthy. Here are a few:

    • Make sure you have a health care provider who knows how to treat HIV. Begin treatment promptly once your doctor tells you to. Keep your appointments. Follow your doctor's instructions. If your doctor prescribes medicine for you, take the medicine just the way he or she tells you to because taking only some of your medicine gives your HIV infection more chance to fight back.
    • If you get sick from your medicine, call your doctor for advice; don't make changes to your medicine on your own or because of advice from friends.
    • Get immunizations (shots) to prevent infections such as pneumonia and flu. Your doctor will tell you when to get these shots.
    • Practice safe sex to reduce your risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or another strain of HIV.
    • If you smoke or use drugs not prescribed by your doctor, quit.
    • Eat healthy foods. This will help keep you strong, keep your energy and weight up, and help your body protect itself.
    • Exercise regularly, get enough sleep and take time to relax. Many people find that meditation or prayer, along with exercise and rest, help them cope with the stress of having HIV or AIDS.

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    Source: Living with HIV/AIDS | Brochures | CDC HIV/AIDS (cdc.gov)

Illustrations
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Source: National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (ncadi.samhsa.gov)

News
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    HIV Can Spread Without Symptoms
    People With Moderate Amount of HIV Particles in Their Blood Can Spread Virus

    Monday, October 22nd 2007
    Source: WebMD (webmd.com)

Scientific Articles (a selection for patients)
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    Systematic review of the efficacy of antiretroviral therapies for reducing the risk of mother-to-child transmission of HIV infection.
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    Source: PubMed (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
    Nonoxynol-9 for preventing vaginal acquisition of HIV infection by women from men
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    Source: PubMed (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
    Condom effectiveness in reducing heterosexual HIV transmission
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    Source: Condom effectiveness in reducing heterosexual HIV transmission (cochrane.org)

Medical Journals (for health professionals)
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Clinical trials
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