IntroductionHIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. This virus ispassed from one person to another through blood-to-blood and sexual contact. Inaddition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their baby during pregnancy ordelivery, as well as through breast-feeding. People with HIV have what is called HIVinfection. Most of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection.An INFECTION with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that ultimately resultsin the illness acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Though new HIV/AIDSinfections are on the decline in the United States and other industrialized nations,HIV/AIDS remains endemic on the African continent.HIV/AIDS spreads throughcontact with body fluids such as occurs with sexual contact (vaginal intercourse, analintercourse, and oral sex) or through shared needles among intravenous DRUGusers. Though previously infection through transfused BLOOD or blood productswas a key means of infection, screening for HIV antibodies in donated blood supplieshas significantly reduced this risk and infection through blood products is nowuncommon.Though there are numerous treatments for HIV/AIDS, there is no cure.HIV, the infection, nearly always progresses to AIDS, the illness, over the course of 5to 20 years. Aggressive treatment can further manage the symptoms andcomplications of AIDS for years to sometimes decades. However, AIDS is ultimatelyfatal. AIDS does not itself cause death but instead so extensively damages theIMMUNE SYSTEM, the infection’s target, that the body cannot protect itself frominfections or conditions such as cancer, which become the causes of death.Causes of HIV and AIDSThe virus can be found in the blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breast milk of infectedpeople. HIV is also found in saliva, sweat, and tears, though not in high enoughamounts to transmit the virus to another person. There are no known cases of
anyone catching HIV through sneezing, shaking hands, or from toilet seats ormosquito bites. The two most common ways to be infected with HIV in NorthAmerica are through unprotected sex and sharing needles. HIV may be transmittedthrough unprotected heterosexual or homosexual, vaginal, anal, or oral sex.Although the risk of infection is lower with oral sex, it is still important to useprotection during oral sex, such as a dental dam (a piece of latex to cover the vaginaduring oral sex) or a condom. HIV can also be passed on through perinatal infection,where mothers who have HIV are at risk of giving the disease to the baby duringbirth. The risk of perinatal infection is declining with new treatments. Breast-feedingby an infected mother can also transmit HIV. Once HIV enters the bloodstream, ittakes over cells vital to the immune response, known as CD4+ lymphocytes. Thevirus then inserts its own genes into the cell, turning it into a miniature factory thatproduces more copies of the virus. Slowly, the amount of virus in the blood goes upand the number of healthy CD4+ cells goes down. The destruction of CD4+ cellsinterferes with the bodys ability to fight off infections and other diseases.Symptoms of HIV and AIDSSymptoms of HIV infection appear 2 to 12 weeks after exposure. At this point thevirus begins rapidly taking over immune cells in the blood. The symptoms of thisphase are flu-like and include:•diarrhea•fatigue or weakness•fever•headache•joint pain•night sweats•rash•swollen glands•weight loss
•yeast infections (of the mouth or vagina) that last a long time or occur frequently.When the symptoms begin to appear, the person with HIV is very infectious. Thesymptoms usually go away within a week to a month, and the person will feel fineagain. However, the symptoms may return from time to time. The symptoms of HIVare similar to symptoms of other diseases. The only way to know for sure whetheryou are HIV-positive is to be tested. After infection with HIV, it can take 3 months forantibodies to the virus to be detectable in the blood. On average, it takes about 22days to develop antibodies. This is called seroconversion. After seroconversionoccurs, the virus can be detected using a blood test. After the initial symptoms goaway, the bodys immune system tries to control the virus. The immune system cankeep the virus at bay for a while, but it cant completely get rid of it. Many people willfeel fine for years before their immune system weakens and they develop AIDS.Without treatment, about half of HIV-positive people develop AIDS within 10 years ofinfection. Some people develop AIDS within a few years of infection. A few, calledlong-term non-progresses, do not develop AIDS until much later. Many factors affectthe timeframe to develop AIDS, including medications and the persons generalhealth and lifestyle.AIDS is a term applied to advanced HIV disease. AIDS is defined as having HIV andan opportunistic infection (an infection by a microorganism that ordinarily does notcause disease unless the immune system is weakened) normally associated withAIDS. These infections can be bacterial, fungal, viral, or parasitic. Examples ofopportunistic infections include toxoplasmosis, pneumocystis pneumonia,Cryptococci meningitis, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML),cryptosporidium, cytomegalovirus, and Mycobacterium valium complex (MAC). Withthe use of better medications to treat HIV, the risk of opportunistic infections hasdropped over the years; however, people with AIDS will usually need to takemedications (such as antibiotics) to prevent opportunistic infections. People whohave AIDS are also more likely to develop cancer, especially cancers of the immunesystem (lymphomas). Another cancer common for people with AIDS is Kaposissarcoma, a type of cancer that causes bluish red nodules on the legs and thatspreads to the lymph system. Women with AIDS are prone to developing cancers ofthe cervix. Gay men with HIV have higher rates of infection by HPV, a virus linked toanal cancer, and precancerous HPV strains. Children with AIDS tend to get common
childhood infections like conjunctivitis, otitis media, and tonsillitis, but theyexperience symptoms much worse than the infection usually causes. Excessiveweight loss or "wasting syndrome" is a problem for approximately 20% of peoplewho have HIV infection. It is associated with an unexplained loss of 10% or more ofnormal body weight, plus chronic diarrhea (30 days or more) or chronic weaknesswith fever (30 days or more). Most people with AIDS die from the diseases that AIDSmakes them more susceptible to. The virus occasionally infects the brain, causingdementia that gets worse over time.Diagnosing HIV/AIDSIf you think you may be infected with HIV, the only way to know for sure is to betested. Testing is voluntary and can be anonymous. Your results will remainconfidential. You can be tested at your physicians office or at a sexual health clinic,many of which are run by local public health units. HIV testing can involve two typesof tests: a preliminary test that detects HIV antibodies and a final confirmatory test. Ifthe rapid test, which requires a finger prick of blood, is reactive to HIV, a secondlaboratory-based test is required to determine whether someone is HIV positive.However, if the rapid test is negative, then no further testing is required. If HIVinfection is confirmed, your doctor will discuss treatment options as well as supportgroups and other services to help you cope. You should inform your sexual partners(past, current, and future) to protect them from developing HIV or help them gettreatment if they have been infected. The laws about whether partners must beinformed vary from province to province, but most provinces have developedservices for notifying partners. Your doctor or provincial ministry of health may beable to help your partners get testing and treatment if needed.Treating and Preventing HIV/AIDSHIV is usually treated with HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy), a potentcombination of anti-HIV medications. HAART will not cure HIV, but it can reduce theamount of virus in the blood, improve the immune system, and slow the progressionof the disease. At least three medications are used together. Using multiplemedications that work in different ways helps prevent the virus from becomingresistant to the treatment. The risk of resistance increases when fewer medicationsare used, when too low a dose is taken, or when a medication is stopped, even if this
only happens for a short period of time. It is very important to take HIV medicationsexactly as prescribed. If you miss a dose, take less medication than you need, ortake doses at the wrong time, the medication will not work as well. Timing themedications around your meals and daily routine can be difficult. Your doctor orpharmacist can help you fit the medications into your day. They may alsorecommend that you use a beeper or a special medication container to keep track ofdoses. Once people develop AIDS, they usually take a range of antibiotic, antiviral,and antifungal medications that other people only take for a short time while they aresick. These medications help fight off opportunistic infections. People with "wastingsyndrome" may be offered various treatments according to the cause of significantweight loss. Agents such as growth hormone, anabolic steroids, and appetitestimulants are examples of medications that have been used to treat this condition.There is a great deal of research on new treatments for HIV. Treatment informationchanges quickly. To keep up-to-date, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. You can alsocontact CATIE (the Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange) for free,current, and confidential treatment information. You can reach CATIE by phone (1-800-263-1638) or on the Internet (www.catie.ca). You can also check with yourprovincial Ministry of Health for information on provincial and local programs. Anyonecan become infected with HIV. Fortunately, it can be prevented. The main ways toprevent HIV infection are:•using condoms during sex (including vaginal, oral, and anal sex)•having fewer sexual partners•not sharing needles or other equipment to take illicit drugsUnless you are in a mutually monogamous relationship (neither of you is having sexwith anyone else), and you are sure neither of you is HIV-positive, make sure to usea condom every time you have sex. In some cases, couples where one partner isinfected may decide to risk infection of the other partner, especially if they are tryingto get pregnant. If this is the case, talk to your doctor. Your choice of sexual partneris also important, since condoms do sometimes break or leak. You may know thatyou practice safe sex and that you havent used dirty needles, but you must alsoknow that your sexual partners and all their other partners do the same. Sharingneedles is very dangerous - it carries a high risk of getting HIV. People with other
sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as herpes are much more likely tocontract HIV during sex, probably because of tiny breaks in their skin or vaginallining. Keeping free of other STIs will help reduce your risk of HIV infection, but thisalone will not protect you from infection. Thats why it is important to use condoms. Ifyou have HIV and become pregnant, tell your doctor. The risk of infecting an infantduring birth has been reduced dramatically through the use of medication andcaesarean section when appropriate.
SURVIVORS Bradford McIntyre - HIV/AIDS Survivor - Living with HIV since 1984. "Today AIDS kills millions of people around the world but medical science hasHIV_Survivor_1.wmv learned how to keep the disease at bay and is getting closer to a cure. 20 (~17.8MB) years ago, however, an HIV diagnosis was like a death sentence!" Colleen Walsh, :Host/ Interviewer: Body and Health "I dont need to show up for my fear. I need to Show Up for LIFE!" Bradford McIntyre Body + Health - canada.com network Global TV-Canada Broadcast Date: First Aired - November 22, 2004
Positively Positive Designed to create Awareness around the many HIV and AIDS issues and promotes messages of positive living with HIV. "A Celebration of Life" "Everything you teach you are learning. Teach only love, and learn that love is yours and you are love." - A Course in MiraclesPositively_Positive_Video.wmv "I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to my Wellness, and what is NOW my life!" Bradford McIntyre Dedicated to all those we love that have died of AIDS.Positively_Positive_Video.wmv Love is the Way!