AIDS Facts Part II...that's is more for you...


Stages, testing and current global infection rates
Grab a dictionary and read slowly, this clearly explains the deadly Human Immunodeficiency Virus - HIV

By: Dr. Carlton Fraser

Stop-AIDS-Hand.jpgThe CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in the United States, uses classification that divides the progress of HIV infection in adults into three clinical stages or categories.

Category A........At this stage the infection may be asymptomatic or cause persistent swollen lymph nodes. These are often those located on the underarm.

Category B.........This stage is characterized by persistent infections by the yeast Candida albicans oar thrush, which can appear in the mouth, throat or vagina. Often conditions may include shingles, persistent diarrhea, fever and certain cancerous and precancerous conditions of the cervix.

Category C ............ This stage is clinical AIDS. Important AIDS indicator conditions are Candida albicans or thrush, infections of the oesophagus, bronchi, and lungs; cytomegalovirus eye infections; tuberculosis, pnemocystis carinii, taxoplasmosis of the brain and Kaposi sarcoma.

The CDC also classifies the progress of HIV infections based on T-Cell populations or amounts, which provide guidelines for the administration of certain medications. The normal T-Cell count of a healthy individual is 800-1000 CD4 T-Cells. A count below 200 CD4 T-Cells is considered diagnostic for AIDS and medication is recommended at this stage. HIV can take almost 10 years to culminate into AIDS.

The development of HIV-I infection into AIDS is determined initially by the infectious dose of the virus, then the subsequent progression is a result of the impaired immune function caused by the direct infection of cells of the immune system by HIV-1. There is a loss of CD4+ cells and the development of opportunistic infections correlates with this loss. With clinical AIDS, the dementia syndrome and abnormal cell growth resulting in KS (Kaposi sarcoma) and B-cell lymphomas may be more directly associated with immune dysregulation as opposed to CD4+ loss.

Development of HIV-1 infection is defined by opportunistic infectious characteristics. Some people who are infected might experience flu like sensations within two to four weeks of exposure to the virus as it usually takes two to five years before any symptoms of HIV infection appear. The initial symptoms are essentially non-specific and variable. Persistent diarrhea or fatigue is common. Fever of unknown origin, excessive night sweating and minor cuts and/or bruises that fail to heal, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, tumors, pneumonia and even memory loss, confusion and depression can all contribute to a scenario if medical attention is not sought or available.

Many people, who are infected with HIV, are not even aware that they have it. Since there exists no reliable latency period, or specific length of time from being infected with HIV and developing AIDS symptoms, it becomes almost impossible to determine the initial onset of the disease, unless one is able to positively track all at risk activity. Testing HIV positive does not mean that one has AIDS as the majority of HIV infected people continue to be AIDS free, maintaining a CD4 T-Cell count of over 200. This occurs with the help of new AIDS medication called antiretroviral medicine. Approximately 25% of the million or so Americans infected with HIV are ignorant of the fact that they are infected…according to the CDC, who suggest annual screening. This number of people infected but unaware of it, increases rapidly across the world.

It is easier and cheaper to detect antibodies against HIV than to detect the virus itself; thus most tests detect HIV antibodies. A confirmed positive HIV test result, quite often, is the earliest indication that an individual may eventually develop AIDS. .

Although ELISA is the most commonly used test for HIV, false negative(s) may occur in the advance stage of AIDS disease or early in the infection prior to antibody formation. False positive(s) might result in individuals who have received hepatitis B immune globulin within 6 weeks of testing; also in multi pregnancy females who may form antibodies that cross react in ELISA testing. Also the presence of rheumatoid factors may cause false positive. A do-it-yourself home testing kit, Home Access HIV-1, has been approved by the FDA. Bi-digital O-ring testing also can be utilized in testing.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains by far the most affected region, being home to 2/3rd of all people living with HIV. 2 million people died of AIDS living in the region in 2005 and there were 2.7 million new infections. India surpassed South Africa as the world's worst-affected country relative to the absolute number of people with HIV.

According the US CDC and Prevention, approximately 62% of Americans diagnosed with AIDS since 1981 have died. AIDS is now the leading cause of premature death among Americans. In the USA, it (AIDS) disproportionately affects members of the minority communities especially African Americans, Hispanics and Homosexual men. In 1999, AIDS was the leading cause of death among African American females who are the fastest growing segment of the population becoming HIV positive.

Worldwide HIV and AIDS statistics for 2006, estimated that more than 39 million people are living globally with HIV/AIDS – 17.7 million women and 2.3 million children. Africa has 12 Million children orphanen as a result of AIDS. Young people under 25 years old account for 50% of all new HIV infections worldwide.

In the Caribbean, the AIDS epidemic has taken an estimated 27,000 lives, making it the leading cause of death among the age group 15-44 years old. A total of 330,000 people are currently living with HIV. The AIDS rate among black women is three times as high as Latino women and 18 times as high as Caucasian/ white women. Today black women make up more than half of all women who have died of AIDS.

In this hemisphere, the Caribbean is the region most affected by HIV/AIDS and is second to Sub-Saharan Africa relative to disease impact.

Basic epidemiological patterns for AIDS emerged, but these are not absolute indicators to prevalence, as more current research has revealed that this disease does not discriminate. In the US, Canada, Western Europe, Australia, North Africa and parts of South America, HIV was initially, primarily known to affect injecting drug users (IDU’s), homosexuals and bisexual males. However, the latest epidemiological trends indicate increased infections in ordinary women in these areas, particularly those unsuspecting ones who live unaware of their partners habits and heterosexual men (particularly those who are uncircumcised). Transmission amongst sex workers has decreased with global education.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South East Asia, HIV transmission is primarily from heterosexual contact and IDU. However, cultural denial of homosexuality in these regions has become recognized as a risk factor for transmission.