Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS, as we know it, is a condition caused by the human immune deficiency virus (HIV). This virus produces reverse transcriptase, an enzyme, inside the infected persons’ cells. HIV usually has an affinity for T-lymphocytes, macrophages, some B-lymphocytes, monocytes and neuroglial cells.
Of these cells the T-lymphocytes are the main cells that get affected. When these get affected the immunity of the human body is lowered, thereby, leading to development of widespread infections; even by microbes that have low degree of pathogenic capacity.
The secretions that are especially infectious are blood, blood products, semen and cervical secretions. The ways by which infection is spread are:
1. Through sexual intercourse, both vaginal as well as anal.
2. Through donated organs and semen, blood, blood products that are infected.
3. Through use of contaminated needles when used in the treatment of patients or when shared by drug abusers.
4. Also from the infected mother to her child. This is possible through the placenta before birth in the womb, or when the child is passing through the birth canal during birth. This can probably be transmitted through breast milk also.
Symptoms involve acute influenza followed by a period of no special symptoms for the next one or two years. It is seen that when AIDS spreads in the body some common complications are seen to recur frequently. These complications are usually tumors and infections while some other manifestations are:
1. Occurrence of pneumonia caused by Pneumocystis carinni as also other microbes.
2. Diarrhea, nausea and weight loss are commonly seen in the infected persons.
3. Occurence of skin infections like eczema, psoriasis, warts, shingles and cellulitis.
4. Frequent occurrence of encephalitis, meningitis leading to the deterioration of the neurological functions.
5. Tumors that are found to be malignant are also reported. Some of those malignant tumors are those of the lymph glands, and of the internal organs.