From ArticleWorld

AIDS affects the immune system's ability to fight infections. AIDS itself is defined as a collection of symptoms and infections that occur because of the infection with HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

At the moment, the WHO considers that we are facing a global epidemic of AIDS, and, given its proportions, it would be the greatest one in history. AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since its discovery in the 1980s. In 2005 alone AIDS over three million people, 600,000 children among them, died of AIDS-related complications. There is no cure or vaccine available for AIDS at the moment, and AIDS will invariably lead to death because of spontaneous infections that occur. However, in countries where antiretroviral treatment is accessible, the life expectation for an infected person is longer, with some associated side effects because of the treatment.


HIV is a retrovirus that infects vital components of the immune system and indirectly destroys others. Because of its damage, the immune system's functionality is severely impaired, and this acute HIV infection leads to clinical latent HIV infection, early symptomatic HIV infection and, later, to AIDS. However, the mere presence of HIV in the blood is not enough for the diagnosis of AIDS.

The clinical progression itself is quite slow, commonly between nine and ten years, but the survival time after developing AIDS is much shorter, about 9 months.


HIV infection by itself doesn't cause any obvious symptoms. The symptoms occur because of affections that wouldn't normally appear in a person with a healthy immune system. These are usually infections caused by various pathogen agents that would be controlled by the immune system if it were functional. Infections appear spontaneously, in almost every organ system, and the immune system cannot control them. Some systemic symptoms of infection may also occur, involving fever, sweats, chills and weight loss. Most patients actually die of these infections.

The clinical symptoms of AIDS include major pulmonary illnesses like tuberculosis, gastro-intestinal illnesses like esophagitis and chronic diarrhea, and major neurological illnesses like toxoplasmosis and a special type of dementia.


There are a number of ways to prevent AIDS. HIV is transmitted sexually, by blood transfusion or from mother to child. Safe sex practices and through testing of blood supplies before usage are generally enough to prevent infection. Direct contact with blood is to be avoided.