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The Hiv & Aids Virus

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AIDS.org - news, treatment information, and other resources.

www.aids.org/

HIV and AIDS Activities - information from the FDA Office of Special Health Issues.

www.fda.gov/oashi/aids/hiv.html

Specialized Information Services Home Page - US National Library ... - ... Library of Medicine (NLM) is responsible for information resources and services in toxicology, environmental health, chemistry, HIV/AIDS, and specialized ...

www.sis.nlm.nih.gov

CDC-NCHSTP-Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP) Home Page - ... CDC - Divisions of HIV / AIDS Prevention Home Page; logo: HIV / AIDS Prevention National Center for HIV, STD and TB Prevention Divisions of HIV/AIDS Prevention. ...

www.cdc.gov/hiv/dhap.htm

AIDSinfo - federally approved information on AIDS research, clinical trials, and treatment from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Created by merging the AIDS Clinical Trials Information Service (ACTIS) and the HIV/AIDS Treatment Information Service (ATIS).

www.hivatis.org/

HIV InSite - comprehensive and reliable information on HIV/AIDS treatment, policy, research, epidemiology, and prevention from the University of California, San Francisco.

hivinsite.ucsf.edu/

HIV & AIDS Virus

AIDS - acquired immunodeficiency syndrome - was first reported in the United States in 1981 and has since become a major worldwide epidemic. AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By killing or damaging cells of the body's immune system, HIV progressively destroys the body's ability to fight infections and certain cancers. People diagnosed with AIDS may get life-threatening diseases called opportunistic infections, which are caused by microbes such as viruses or bacteria that usually do not make healthy people sick. More than 790,000 cases of AIDS have been reported in the United States since 1981, and as many as 900,000 Americans may be infected with HIV. This epidemic is growing more rapidly among minority populations and is a leading killer of African-American males ages 25 to 44. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), AIDS affects nearly seven times more African Americans and three times more Hispanics than whites.

Transmission of HIV

Having unprotected sex with an infected partner most commonly spreads HIV. The virus can enter the body through the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis, or mouth during sex. HIV also is spread through contact with infected blood. Before donated blood was screened for evidence of HIV infection and before heat-treating techniques to destroy HIV in blood products were introduced. HIV was transmitted through transfusions having the contaminated blood or blood components. Today, because of blood screening and heat treatment, the risk of getting HIV from such transfusions is extremely small. HIV frequently is spread among injection drug users by the sharing of needles or syringes contaminated with very small quantities of blood from someone infected with the virus. It is rare, however, for a patient to give HIV to a health care worker or vice-versa by accidental sticks with contaminated needles or other medical instruments.

Although researchers have found HIV in the saliva of infected people, there is no evidence that the virus is spread by contact with saliva. Laboratory studies reveal that saliva has natural properties that limit the power of HIV to infect. Research studies of people infected with HIV have found no evidence that the virus is spread to others through saliva by kissing. No one knows, however, whether so-called "deep" kissing, involving the exchange of large amounts of saliva or oral intercourse increase the risk of infection. Scientists also have found no evidence that HIV is spread through sweat, tears, urine, or feces.

Studies of families of HIV-infected people have shown clearly that HIV is not spread through casual contact such as the sharing of food utensils, towels and bedding, swimming pools, telephones, or toilet seats. Biting insects such as mosquitoes or bedbugs does not spread HIV.

HIV can infect anyone who practices risky behaviors such as

 Sharing drug needles or syringes

 Having sexual contact with an infected person without using a condom

 Having sexual contact with someone whose HIV status is unknown

Having a sexually transmitted disease such as syphilis, genital herpes, chlamydial infection, gonorrhea, or bacterial vaginosis appears to make people more susceptible to getting HIV infection during sex with infected partners.

What are the early symptoms of HIV infection?

Many people do not have any symptoms when they first become infected with HIV. Some people, however, have a flu-like illness within a month or two after exposure to the virus. This illness may include:

 Fever

 Headache

 Tiredness

 Enlarged lymph nodes (glands of the immune system easily felt in the neck and groin

These symptoms usually disappear within a week to a month and are often mistaken for those of another viral infection. During this period, people are very infectious, and HIV is present in large quantities in genital fluids. More persistent or severe symptoms may not appear for 10 years or more after HIV first enters the body in adults, or within two years in children born with HIV infection. This period of "asymptotic" infection is highly individual. Some people may begin to have symptoms within a few months, while others may be symptom-free for more than 10 years. Even during the asymptotic period, the virus is actively multiplying, infecting, and killing cells of the immune system. HIV's effect is seen most obviously in a decline in the blood levels of T-cells (also called T4 cells) the immune system's key infection fighters. At the beginning of its life in the human body, the virus disables or destroys these cells without causing symptoms. As the immune system worsens, a variety of complications start to take over. For many people, their first

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