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AIDS Awareness Month

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the most advanced stage of infection caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV attacks the immune system making your body more susceptible to infections and diseases. 

Transmission 

AIDS/HIV is primarily transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, etc., containing the virus. One of the most common ways of transmission is unprotected sexual contact. Unprotected intercourse with an infected person can transmit the disease which is why having multiple sexual partners can increase the risk of AIDS. Another form of transmission is through the sharing of needles or syringes containing the blood of someone who may be infected. It is important for hospitals to keep sterilized needles and do multiple screenings for people who may be receiving blood transfusions. Needles are also commonly shared between people who inject drugs. 

Symptoms

Although symptoms of HIV may not be as noticeable or harmful, symptoms of AIDS can cause severe damage to the immune system that can lead to more harmful infections or cancer. Some main symptoms listed before are: 

  • Recurrent Infections, many people with AIDS begin to have frequent and severe infections despite having a healthy immune system. Infections can include pneumonia, specifically those affecting the lungs, tuberculosis, candidiasis, meningitis, etc. 
  • Rapid Weight Loss, as many infections may cause the body’s inability to absorb nutrients needed to maintain your weight and health
  • Extreme fatigue and tiredness
  • Persistent Diarrhea, which can last more than a month  
  • Red, brown, pink, or purplish blotches under the skin, mouth, nose, or eyelids

Many symptoms can be recognized as AIDS/HIV but the only way to diagnose it is by getting tested. Tests such as an antigen/antibody test help detect the virus through the antigens in HIV. If you come in contact with anyone with this disease, it is always important to test even if you do not have any present symptoms. 

Treatments 

As the HIV/AIDs virus and treatments are still evolving and being researched, there is currently no cure. However, many ways exist to help control the virus and slow down the symptoms. 

One of the main treatment options is Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). ART is a combination of two or more medicines in different drug classes to account for different drug resistances and maximize suppression of virus in the blood. The treatments of ART help keep your immune system strong, reduce your chances of infection, reduce the chances of developing treatment-resistant HIV, and lower chances of transmission. It is important to talk to your physician about which HIV antiretroviral therapy will work best for you. As ART is a treatment option, prevention methods and stopping the virus from entering your body is the most effective method of stopping HIV. 

World AIDS Day

December 1st is the observance of World AIDS Day every year. This day shows those living with HIV/AIDS that there is support for them. We as a community must end AIDS as a public threat by 2030 and end the stigma behind people living with AIDS.  During this day, many walks help raise money to increase HIV/AIDS testing and treatments. To learn more information about World AIDS Day, CLICK HERE.

To learn more about AIDS:

About UCR Health

UCR Health is comprised of a team of physicians, specialists, and healthcare professionals dedicated to improving people’s health. With five medical offices located throughout the Inland Empire and Coachella Valley, UCR Health is growing to meet the healthcare needs of the region, bringing innovative, culturally sensitive medical care to the community. Established alongside the School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside, UCR Health’s patient-centered primary care and specialty services deliver university-based healthcare excellence and innovation to all communities.

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