Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) In India

The HIV is a virus that destroys or impairs the function of the body’s immune system making the person more susceptible to infections. Unless treated, it develops into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

AIDS is the advanced stage of HIV infection. It is a condition when body’s immune system fails to fight with foreign microorganisms. It leads to various serious infections and/or certain cancers.

Most People living with HIV/AIDS have to face rejection, violent attacks, refusal to medical treatment, and even in some cases, face denial for the last rites at the time of their death.

Status of HIV/AIDS patients in India:

The adult HIV prevalence in India is 0.27 percent, as of 2012-13. Whilst this figure is small relative to other middle-income countries, the large population of 1.2 billion inhabitants means there are still around 2.1 million people living with HIV in India. Overall, India’s HIV epidemic is slowing down, with a 57 percent decline in new infections between 2012 and 2013, and a 29 percent decline in AIDS-related deaths between 2012 and 2013.

India’s HIV epidemic varies across its 28 states. The four states with the highest number of people living with HIV (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu) are all in the south, and account for 53 percent of all HIV infections in India. However, in a few states in the north and northeast, HIV infections are rising.

In India, as elsewhere, HIV/AIDS is seen as stigma and misunderstood by the community because of lack of awareness about HIV/AIDS.

There is a need that people must have the knowledge of facts about it which are given below:

HIV is spread by the following ways:

• By the use of HIV infected needles for transferring  blood.
• When semen, or vaginal fluids from an HIV infected person enter into another person's body, usually through sexual contact.
• Sharing needles of HIV infected person for injecting drugs.
• Transmitted from HIV infected mother to child at the time of pregnancy.

HIV is not spread by following ways:

• Sharing of Utensils
• Hugging  and Handshakes
• Sharing Toilet Seats
• Mosquito Bites

  Sign and symptoms that indicate that person is suffering from AIDS

• Persistent fever
• Extreme fatigue not related to stress or lack of sleep
• Persistent diarrhea
• Severe malnutrition, losing weight
• Swollen glands in the neck, groin, etc...
• Difficulty in swallowing
• Oral thrush
• Headache, confusion and forgetfulness
• Increased risk of developing various cancers like Kaposi sarcoma, lymphomas, cervical cancer, etc.

Diagnosis

The only way to diagnose HIV is to take a test which looks for signs of the virus in the blood. Presence of the virus in the blood is termed as HIV positive (HIV+). If no signs of the virus are found in the blood, the result is considered negative. It is diagnosed on the basis of positive results from two different HIV tests.

The plasma HIV RNA test (a viral load test) is recommended when recent infection is suspected. The test detects the virus in the blood within 9 days of infection; before the body develops detectable antibodies to it.

Antibody tests: The antibody tests check for HIV antibodies that the body produces in response to the infection. In most people, antibodies to the virus are not detectable during a window period of 3 to 12 weeks after infection. Hence, a HIV antibody test is not useful during this period. Retesting should be done after three months to confirm the test results. Some of the antibody tests are as follows:

• Rapid HIV antibody test, the most common HIV test, is done using blood, urine, or saliva and can produce results within an hour.
• Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is an antibody test that is usually the first one used to detect HIV infection. If the result is positive, the test is usually repeated to confirm the diagnosis.
• Western blot test is one of the oldest but most accurate confirmatory antibody tests. It is done to confirm the results of two positive ELISA tests.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR, a viral load test) test finds either the RNA or the DNA of the HIV in white blood cells even if other tests are negative for the virus. The PCR test is very useful to find a very recent infection, screen blood for HIV before donation and in babies born to mothers infected with the virus.

Protein p24, the antigen on HIV that produces an antibody response in the body is produced in excess early in the infection. Antigen p24 tests detect these proteins in the blood. This test is usually not used for general HIV diagnostic purposes.

HIV-infected people may not have any symptoms of disease for eight to ten years or longer (asymptomatic period). Their CD4 (T-cell) count should be watched closely during this time. If they have a CD4 count below 200 and/or if AIDS-related conditions appear, then they are considered to have AIDS.

Treatment

The best treatment is awareness, precautions and diagnosis at the right time. Even though, the cure for HIV/AIDS hasn’t yet been found, there might be a cure on its way. Here are some of the advances made in the direction by researchers which are as follows:

Antiretroviral (ARV) drugs

ARV drugs are used for treating and preventing HIV infection. They stop or interfere with the reproduction of the virus in the body.

HIV therapy includes combinations of drugs. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) consisting of combination of three or more antiretroviral drugs to suppress the virus. ART does not cure HIV infection. It controls replication of the virus thereby strengthening an individual’s immune system to fight off infections. These drugs must be taken at the right time every day. Incorrect or inconsistent therapy can mutate the virus causing resistance to treatment. In such cases, other medication options must be used. The amount of the virus in the blood (viral load) is measured to monitor the efficacy of the treatment. The goal of treatment is to get an undetectable viral load in lab tests.

Bone Marrow Transplant

Brown aka the Berlin Patient. Brown – an HIV– Positive man who developed leukemia. After In After first-line cancer treatments failed, a bone marrow transplant procedure was done. Two transplants later, not only was his leukemia in remission, his immune system actually managed to ward off HIV.

 Stem cell therapy to overcome HIV

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