HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency virus as per the definition given by a medical center called UCSF. The virus is acquired through unprotected sexual intercourse with an infected partner, from an infected mother to an unborn child, blood transfusion and during breastfeeding. The virus weakens the immune system of a person by destroying the CD4+T cells making a person the infected person’s immune system weak. As the HIV viruses increase, the number of CD4+T cells in the body reduces from the normal 800-1200 cells per cubic millimeter (mm3) to as low as 50 CDA+T cells per cubic millimeter(mm3). The infections develop in different stages.
One of the foundations dealing with HIV and AIDS called San Francisco has given the stages as follows. The first stage is the window stage or the primary stage which occur a few weeks after infection .The symptoms in this stage include fevers, night sweats and rashes on the skin. However, after a few weeks the person‘s body returns to its healthy state. If a person takes an HIV/AIDS test at this time the result might be faulty because the virus may have not established itself fully in the blood stream. It should be known however that such a person can still infect other people with the HIV virus .Later the symptoms may recur but the time may differ depending on the strength of the immune system of a person.
The second stage which is the seroconversion stage occurs after the first six months after but differs with the capability of the immune system to fight diseases. At this stage the body starts reacting to the virus by producing antibodies .If one gets tested at this stage the results will not be correct.
The third stage is the asymptomatic stage; the person still looks healthy but can infect other people if they have unprotected sexual intercourse. The virus continues to destroy the CD4+T cells weakening the immune system.
The next stage is the symptomatic stage. At this stage of the infection, a person develops pneumonia, sores on the throat, mouth, anus and genitals, reddish, purplish brownish and pinkish batches on the skin, memory loss, depression, slight weight loss in women, tiredness, hair loss , recurring fever , extreme tiredness and profuse night sweats, diarrhea . This does not mean that each person infected develops the symptoms immediately; some may take up to twelve years to show these signs while some may develop earlier.
As the HIV virus multiplies it continues weakening the body immune system of a person giving way to opportunistic diseases. The person becomes immune deficient or has now developed AIDS, which is a short form of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. The body can no longer fight opportunistic diseases such as; bacterial diseases like tuberculosis, pneumonia and blood poisoning, the body cannot also fight diseases caused by protozoan’s like toxoplasmosis, fungal diseases like candidiasis, and penicilliosis and viral diseases like herpes simplex and herpes zoster which are more common in women than in men.
These diseases develop at different times e, g malaria and pneumonia tuberculosis and herpes zoster occur in the early stages of the infection where else toxoplasmosis and PCP occur affecting major body organs. People with HIV/AIDS are prone to cancers like cervical cancer and Kaposi’s sarcoma and treatment using therapy to treat cancer is difficult as the ability of the lymphocyte to fight germs has been weakened by the virus.
Children are also in high risk of getting infected with the opportunistic diseases such as those affecting older people, but are more affected by bacterial infections like ear infections, tonsillitis, stunted growth, and pink eyes. This is because the defense is lower compared to those of adults (HIV AND AIDS: Mayo clinic).
When the CD4+T cells of a person are less than 200 per cubic millimeter then the person has full blown HIV virus and should seek medical help so that he/she can be examined by a doctor which include pregnancy tests for women. The person is then given antiretroviral medication and antiretroviral (ARV) therapy.