The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infects cells of the human immune system, destroying or impairing their function. In the early stages of infection, no symptoms are apparent. However, as the infection progresses the immune system becomes weaker, and the patient becomes more susceptible to opportunistic infections such as Kaposi’s sarcoma or tuberculosis (TB). As many as 13% of new TB cases are also infected with HIV (WHO factsheet 2011).
The most advanced stage of HIV infection is called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome(AIDS). It can take 10–15 years for an HIV-infected person to develop AIDS; antiretroviral drugs can slow this process down even further.
HIV is transmitted through unprotected sexual intercourse, transfusion of infected blood, sharing of contaminated needles, and mother-to-infant transmission during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.
According to WHO and UNAIDS estimates, 34.2 million people were living with HIV at the end of 2011. That same year, some 2.5 million people became newly infected, and 1.5 million died of AIDS-related causes. Of these deaths, 230,000 were children.
More than two-thirds of HIV infections are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Though there is no known cure for HIV, antiretroviral treatment can substantially prolong patients’ lives. Standard antiretroviral therapy (ART) consists of the use of at least three antiretroviral drugs to suppress the HIV virus and stop the progression of the disease.
There are various methods of reducing the rate of HIV transmission, such as education on preventative methods and distributing and promoting condom use. This can be applied both to the general public and to specific groups such as sex workers.
We have been unable to find estimates of cost-effectiveness from the websites of charities that focus on HIV/AIDS. The DCP2 and WHO-CHOICE cost-effectiveness estimates are as follows:
In other words, according to these reports, it would cost $1000 to extend one HIV-sufferer's life for two years through antiretroviral therapy.  But the same $1000 could add a total of around 950 years of life to a population if spent on mass media HIV/AIDS education.
The cost-effectiveness estimate for mass media education from WHO-CHOICE is the most favourable we have come across. However, we are unsure how much confidence to place in this figure: while it is plausible that mass media education could be an extremely cost-effective intervention, there is at least some countervailing evidence.
Peer support education for high risk groups is also extremely impressive, but it too should be treated as only a rough estimate.
Positive side-effects of the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS include:
A decrease in the incidence and transmission of other diseases, such as TB.
Prevention strategies for HIV/AIDS can also help to prevent other sexually transmitted diseases.
Reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS has far-reaching socioeconomic benefits.
Education appears to be the most effective way to reduce the number of people who will suffer and die from HIV/AIDS. While we can't place a great deal of confidence in the WHO-CHOICE figures, if these are correct to within even an order of magnitude then peer education programmes for sex workers and, especially, mass media education, are hugely cost-effective.
Unfortunately, we have been unable so far to find charities that focus on or dedicate a significant amount of their resources to mass media education or education of high-risk groups. We therefore currently have no recommended charities for HIV/AIDS.
- WHO summary of HIV/AIDS.
- WHO online Q&A on HIV/AIDS.
- Using a figure of $500 per DALY, with a disability weight for HIV of 0.135.
- Using a figure of $1.25 per DALY, with a disability weight for HIV of 0.135.
- Jane Bertand et al. , 2006. 'Systematic review of the effectiveness of mass communication programs to change HIV/AIDS related behaviours in developing countries', Health Education Research 21:567–97.
Last updated: in or before 2012
April 27, 2000
Com 100/ Dequer
HIV and AIDS
Good afternoon everyone. Today I would like to inform you all about HIV, human immunodeficiency virus, and AIDS, aquired immune deficiency syndrome. Statistics show that about 35% of AIDS cases have been in the age group of 20-29. Now many of you may already know that AIDS has a long period between infection with the virus and the appearance of symptoms. Meaning that some of those people between the ages 20 and 29 probably contracted the virus when they were teenagers. Being that most of us in this room fall near or in that age range, my goal today is to inform you of how the virus is contracted, symptoms of this disease, and most importantly, the best way to go about taking more precaution into preventing this fatal disease.
AIDS is preceded by HIV infection. HIV can only be transmitted three different ways (refer to visual aid). (1) The first is through sexual contact. This is the most common way HIV is contracted. It can be passed when an infected person has vaginal or anal intercourse with another. (2) The second way this deadly virus is transmitted is through the exchange of blood. This method of transmission is now almost entirely limited to people who inject drugs and share needles. This type of contact between an infected person and someone else is the second most common way this virus is passed. HIV can also be contracted through blood transfusions. Now blood transfusions are far safer now than they were in the early years of the AIDS problem. (3) The third way is from mother to child. Sadly, most children with HIV contracted it from their infected mothers during pregnancy or childbirth. If the woman is infected, her child has a 50/50 chance of being born with the virus. Once, or if, this virus is contracted through these ways, the symptoms of the HIV infection may not appear for a long time after the person gets infected.
Initial symptoms of the HIV infection are usually the same as those of minor illnesses like the cold or flu. The symptoms are tiredness, swollen lymph glands, fever, loss of appetite and weight, diarrhea, and night sweats. The presence of these may indicate an HIV infection. Not being able to know right away if your illness is minor or major is just one of the complications this virus carries. A person cannot determine themselves if he or she has the infection. So if you think you might, the best thing to do is to see a healthcare professional so that they can diagnose your condition. If a person has contracted the virus, these symptoms tend to become more severe over a period of time. Since AIDS is the last stage of a long period of HIV infection, the number of AIDS cases is like the tip of a very large iceberg. (refer to visual). Acute HIV infection progresses over time to asymptomatic HIV infection and later to advanced HIV or full blown AIDS. So as you can see HIV and AIDS are a fatal disease that can be easily contracted without much precaution. (Refer to visual)
The best ways to prevent and reduce the risks that are related to sex are: (1) sexual fidelty. It is unlikely that a monogamous couple will become infected with AIDS. (2) Practice safe sex. For example, the proper use of condoms is one imperative way of preventing this virus from entering oneâs body. (3) Careful selection of partners. In other words, do not have sex with just anybody. Make sure your partner has not had several sex partners, does not use intravenous drugs, and make sure its not someone who has had any sexually transmitted diseases. (4) Avoid multiple sex partners. Simple as that, the more sex partners a person has, the greater the chance of getting an HIV infection. And last but not least (5) sexual abstinence. This is the most certain way of not contracting AIDS. This is also the healthiest choice of all of the above. There are no worries of contracting any sexually transmitted diseases and people who are abstinent usually have fewer problems than those who get sexually involved too soon. Furthermore, the best way to prevent and reduce risks related to drug abuse is to not use intravenous drugs. The prevention of AIDS requires a lot of self discipline and strength of character. The requirements often seem personally restrictive but are very effective and can save your life.
In conclusion, researchers have found that AIDS is the worst end result of HIV. People with AIDS usually lead to death. Over 50% of persons diagnosed with AIDS in the US have died. Unfortunately there is still no cure for this disease and no one has completely recovered from AIDS. With this, I would just like to remind you that the exchange of this disease, be it through sexual contact, the exchange of blood, and the pregnancy and childbirth of an infected mother, can be easily contracted through careless action and no precaution. Also, the symptoms of this disease, if contracted, and its severity can easily go unnoticed since they are almost the same symptoms as the cold or flu. Therefore, prevention and taking more precaution by reducing risks related to sex and drugs is the essential key to staying healthy and, most importantly, HIV negative. Remember that making careful decisions and being cautious can save your life. Thank you for your time.
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