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Facts on HIV/AIDS
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused by Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). AIDS is an advanced condition where the immune system slowly deteriorates leading to many opportunistic infections. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is given to infected patients to inhibit the virus at different stages of its life cycle thereby reducing opportunistic infections. These drugs do not cure the disease but increases the patient’s longevity and improves their quality of life. They also reduce the risk of transmission. There is no vaccine against HIV till date.
At early stages HIV continues to multiply, but at very low pace. Few of them do not show any symptoms but this varies from person to person. An infected person gradually becomes symptomatic with chronic diarrohea, rapid weight loss, and other signs of opportunistic infections. This can be prevented to an extent by Bactrim DS(Cotrimoxazole) one tablet a day. HIV infection advances to AIDS stage in 10 years time or more but it varies from patient to patient.
HIV spreads through contact with certain body fluids from an infected person. These body fluids include:
- Pre-seminal fluid
- Vaginal fluids
- Rectal fluids
- Breast milk
90% of them become infected through sexual contact. Mother-to-child transmission is the most common way that children become infected with HIV. ART is given to HIV-infected women during pregnancy and childbirth and even to babies after birth which reduces the risk of transmission of HIV.
One cannot become infected with HIV by shaking hands or hugging a person infected with HIV or sharing their objects like dishes, soaps, towels, toilets etc.
Facts on Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by bacteria which spreads from person to person through air from untreated patients. TB is a leading killer among HIV-infected people who have a weak immune system. It generally affects the lungs, but can affect other parts of the body like lymph nodes, bones, brain etc. General symptoms of TB include fever, night sweats, weight loss, loss of appetite and tiredness. Symptoms of TB in the lungs also include coughing, coughing up blood, and chest pain. Very few patients with TB do not show any symptoms.
Prolonged exposure is normally necessary for infection to occur. With appropriate treatment, TB can be cured in most of them. Successful treatment of TB depends on close cooperation between patients and healthcare providers. Treatment usually involves taking a course of antibiotic drugs for at least 6 months and sometimes for as long as 12 months. The most important way to stop the spread of tuberculosis is to cover the mouth and nose when coughing. when the cough persists over 10 days one must get a sputum test for TB and an X ray at the closest medical center under a physician’s prescription.
Facts on LEPROSY
Leprosy is also known as Hansen’s disease (Named after a physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen) and its existence dates back to at least 4000 It is a chronic disease caused by a slow multiplying bacillus, Mycobacterium leprae. The disease mainly affects the skin, peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract and also eyes. Men are twice more likely to contract leprosy than women. Leprosy is a curable disease with the use of multidrug therapy (MDT).
The first signs of leprosy are often pale patches which appear on the skin and/or loss of sensation on the hands and feet.
Most people (approximately 95%) have a natural immunity to leprosy. The leprosy germ attacks the nerves, especially those of the legs, arms and face.
The nerve damage causes loss of sensation, weakness and paralysis of the muscle.
Untreated, leprosy can cause progressive and permanent damage to the skin, nerves and eyes which lead to deformities and loss of vision.