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About HIV/AIDS

I hear a lot of people talk about AIDS and HIV.
What ís the difference between the two?
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a condition that slowly destroys the body’s immune defense system and makes the body vulnerable to opportunistic infections. AIDS is caused by a virus known as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

What does the paragraph above mean? The process is better understood when broken down into its parts:

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AIDS:
ACQUIRED
=to get as one’s own or receive. AIDS is a disease that is blood-borne, so no matter how it is transmitted – you get it from another person.
IMMUNE = the virus of AIDS directly attacks your immune system, which includes: T helper cells, B cells, phagocytes and lymphocytes.
DEFICIENCY = over a span of many years your immune system is slowly destroyed by the replication of countless virus particles leaving your body open for exposure to a variety of diseases once extremely rare in humans.
SYNDROME = a syndrome is characterized by a process or pattern of symptoms.

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HIV:
HUMAN
= this particular virus attacks only human beings, although it is thought to have mutated from its “cousin” SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus).
IMMUNODEFICIENCY = as above, the body is rendered deficient by the immune-destroying virus.
VIRUS = a virus is a particle which gets inside a host’s cells and replicates itself, causing injury or death to the cell and, at times, host.

ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUGS CAN INCREASE YOUR RISK OF BECOMING INFECTED WITH HIV.

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THE VIRUS:
HIV is a retrovirus. This means that it has the ability to attach itself to a host’s cell and replicate itself. After HIV is transmitted into the body, it lives, and multiplies, in the CD4 (helper) cells, which are the cells that are called out by the body to protect it from disease. HIV then converts its own RNA genetic material ultimately into human double-stranded DNA. This “new” DNA may also begin reproduction of its own RNA again. Within a large number of T-cells this process occurs.

It is thought that after entrance into the host body, HIV first focuses on lymph nodes where there are the greatest numbers of immune cells. As the virus multiplies, it destroys these and other nearby cells (i.e. B-cells). Over a period of seven to ten years this slow, steady assault continues. The body’s total immune system becomes taxed and prey to a wide range of disease-causing microbes.

When HIV has destroyed enough immune cells, the body is no longer able to fight off many infections.

For more information on HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, contact the office of Brotherhood Inc. at 504-566-7955 or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention website at: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/dhap.htm.

HIV LIFE CYCLE:

It is recommended that you get tested once every six months or up to a year to be informed of your status. If you are diagnosed with HIV, it is important that you enroll in medical care as soon as possible. This will aid in improving your quality of life and reduce the transmission of the virus.