“a global epidemic”

As of 2007, 33.2 million people on this earth are living with HIV out of which 30.8 million are adults, 15.4 million are women and 2.5 million are children below 15.


In 2007 alone, 2.5 million new people got infected with HIV out of which 2.1 million are adults and 420,000 children below the age of 15.


2.1 million people died in 2007 of AIDS out of which 1.7 million were adults.


HIV stands for “human immunodeficiency virus”. HIV is a virus (of the type called retrovirus) that infects cells of the human immune system (mainly CD4 positive T cells and macrophages – key components of the cellular immune system) and destroys or impairs their function. Infection of the virus results in the progressive deterioration of the immune system, leading to “immune deficiency”.


The immune system is considered deficient when it can no longer fulfill its role of fighting off infections and diseases. Immunodeficient people are more susceptible to the wide range of infections, most of which are rare among people without immune deficiency.


Infections associated with severe immunodeficiency are known as “opportunistic infections”, because they take advantage of a weakened immune system.


AIDS stands for “acquired immunodeficiency syndrome” and is a surveillance definition based on signs, symptoms, infections and cancers associated with the deficiency of the immune system that stems from the infection with HIV.


Most people infected with HIV do not know that they have become infected, because they do not feel ill immediately after infection. However, some people at the time of seroconversion develop “acute retroviral syndrome”, which is a glandular fever like illness with fever, rash, joint pains and enlarged lymph nodes.


Seroconversion refers to the development of antibodies to HIV and usually takes place between one (1) and six (6) weeks after HIV infection has happened.


Whether or not HIV infection causes initial symptoms, an HIV infected person is highly infectious during this initial period and can transmit the virus to another person. The only way to determine whether HIV is present in a person’s body is by testing for HIV antibodies or for HIV it self.


After HIV has caused progressive deterioration of the immune system, increased susceptibility to infections may lead to symptoms. HIV is staged on the basis of certain signs, symptoms, infections and cancers grouped by the World Health Organization (WHO).


Interim WHO staging of HIV/AIDS and HIV/AIDS case definitions for surveillance (2005)


The term AIDS applies to the most advanced stages of HIV infection, defined by the occurrence of any of more than 20 opportunistic infections or HIV related cancers. In addition, United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines AIDS on the basis of CD4 positive T cell count of less than 200 per mm3 of blood.


The length of time can vary widely between the individuals. The majority of people infected with HIV, if not treated, develop signs of H IV related illness with in five (5) and ten (10) years, but the time between the infection with HIV and being diagnosed with AIDS can be ten (10) to fifteen (15) years, some times longer. Antiretroviral therapy can slow down disease progression to AIDS by decreasing the infected person’s viral load.


As we breathe, for every ten seconds one new person gets infected with HIV.


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