Every year, 1 December marks the commemoration of the united fight against HIV and AIDS. ‘World AIDS Day’ has been raising awareness of the epidemic that kills at least 1 million people every year, since 1988.
The idea behind the international observance is to expunge the outmoded stigma and to show solidarity to the HIV affected. AIDS and HIV infections are one of the biggest problems of the current world, despite the establishment of enhanced and upgraded preventive measures.
The idea of World AIDS Day was initially proposed by James Bunn and Thomas Netter, two public health officials from the World Health Organisation in 1987. Dr Mann, then director of UNAIDS approved the notion and the first-ever World AIDS Day was observed on 1 December 1988.
The theme of World AIDS Day 2020 is Global Solidarity, Shared Responsibility. The global HIV epidemic may be accelerating during the Covid-19 pandemic, as there has been a breakdown in essential HIV services due to the pandemic, making it difficult for health workers to deliver continuous, high-quality HIV services.
Today, we will talk about the serious complications of HIV/AIDS.
Complications Of HIV/AIDS
HIV infection is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus that damages the immune system . With time, the virus affects and kills CD4 cells, which are a type of immune cell called T cell, and this can result in the body being exposed and prone to various types of health issues and cancers .
An individual can have an HIV infection, with few or no symptoms, for years before it turns into AIDS, which is diagnosed when the CD4 T cell count falls below 200 or if the individual has an AIDS-defining complication, such as serious infection or cancer. However, with timely medical care, including antiretroviral therapy, HIV can be managed, which otherwise can result in severe complications such as opportunistic infections (infections that capitalise on weakened immune systems) .
- Candidiasis: Candidiasis or simply candida or thrush is a fungal infection caused due to an abnormal overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans. Most people already have this pathogen inside their bodies, but it is kept under control by certain good microbes within the body .
- HIV-related encephalopathy: HIV-encephalopathy, also called HIV-associated dementia or AIDS-dementia complex is the result of damage to the brain by longstanding HIV infection.
- Isosporiasis: Also known as cystoisosporiasis, this is a human intestinal disease caused by the parasite Isospora bel and develops when people consume or come into contact with contaminated food and water sources .
- Chronic pneumonia: Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) is the most common cause of pneumonia in people infected with HIV.
- Tuberculosis: TB is the most common opportunistic infection associated with HIV and is the leading cause of death among people with AIDS.
- Cytomegalovirus: A common herpes virus, this one affects a weakened immune system, causing damage to the eyes, digestive tract, lungs, or other organs.
- Toxoplasmosis: A potentially deadly infection caused by Toxoplasma gondii, this parasite spread primarily by cats through their stools, which may then spread to other animals and humans and cause heart disease, and seizures, when it spreads to the brain .
- Cryptococcal meningitis: Meningitis is an infection causing the inflammation of membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain . Cryptococcal meningitis is a common central nervous system infection associated with HIV.
- Kidney diseases: HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN) is an inflammation of the filters in kidneys that remove excess fluid and wastes from the blood.
- Liver diseases: Liver disease is also a major complication, especially in people who also have hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
- Wasting syndrome: It is the unwanted weight loss of more than 10 per cent of a person’s body weight due to diarrhoea, chronic weakness, and fever .
- Neurological complications: HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders, also termed as HAND, can range from mild symptoms of behavioural changes, and reduced mental functioning to severe dementia causing weakness and inability to function .
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent HIV infection and no cure for AIDS. However, there are different measures and habits that can help one prevent the onset and live a healthy life with an HIV infection. Read the following articles to see how one can live healthy with HIV and different ways to improve and strengthen the immune system .
On A Final Note…
Reports point out that the economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic can make HIV services unaffordable or unobtainable, interfering with supply chains and service delivery.
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