AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is the last stage of the HIV disease that leads to various sever damage to an individual’s immune system.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

  • The World Health Organization estimates that more than 25 million people worldwide have died from this infection since the start of the epidemic
  • AIDS is the sixth leading cause of death among people ages 25 – 44 in the United States, down from number one in 1995.
  • In 2008, there were approximately 33.4 million people around the world living with HIV/AIDS, including 2.1 million children under age 15.

The main cause of AIDS is the Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that attacks mainly the immune system of the body and leaves it vulnerable to various diseases and other life-threatening infections and cancers. Individuals with a healthy immune system are not easily affected by common bacteria, such as yeast, parasites and other viruses, but can cause a fatal illness to people with AIDS.

The virus can be spread/transmitted through the following:

  • Through sexual contact
  • Through blood-via blood transfusions
  • From mother to child

HIV infection is NOT spread by:

  • Casual contact such as hugging
  • Mosquitoes
  • Participation in sports
  • Touching items previously touched by a person infected with the virus

People with high risk of getting HIV include:

  • People who received blood transfusions or clotting products between 1977 and 1985 (before screening for the virus became standard practice)
  • People engaging in unprotected sex, especially with people who have other high-risk behaviors, are HIV-positive, or have AIDS
  • Sexual partners of those who participate in high-risk activities (such as injection drug use or anal sex)
  • Injection drug users who share needles
  • Infants born to mothers with HIV who didn’t receive HIV therapy during pregnancy

HIV infection is the first stage of AIDS, and individuals suffering from this disease may not possess the symptoms for 10 or more years, they can still transmit the infection. And if this is not detected in the early stage, and not treated the person’s immune system slowly deteriorates, which can lead to the development of AIDS.

Common symptoms include: Fevers, Weight Loss, Chills, Sweats (specifically during night time), Weakness, and Swollen Lymph Glands.

NOTE: People infected with the HIV virus may be negative from symptoms fro the time they are exposed to the virus. Others may also experience flu-like symptoms with fever, rash, sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes.