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Some of the illnesses linked with AIDS can be prevented or cured through other treatments ("What is the difference" par, 5).
Symptoms of HIV / AIDS:
Depending on the phase of the infection, the symptoms of HIV and AIDS vary. In early HIV infection, a person may have no signs or symptoms at all. Nonetheless, a person may develop a brief (two to four-week) flu-like illness when first infected with HIV. The signs and symptoms in this phase of infection include fever, sore throat, headache, rash and swollen lymph glands. It's also important to note that someone is still able to transmit the virus to others even when he/she doesn't have any symptoms.
In the later phase of infection, an infected person may remain symptom-free for close to nine years or more ("Symptoms" par, 3). As the virus continues to multiply and destroy the immune cells in this phase, the infected person may develop chronic symptoms or mild infections. These mild infections or chronic symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, fever and cough and shortness of breath.
The last or latest phase of infection occurs within 10 or more years after the initial infection. During this phase, the appearance of more serious symptoms is evident and the infection may proceed to the official definition of AIDS. By this time, the immune system has been severely damaged and the signs and symptoms include chronic diarrhea, dry cough, soaking night sweats, weight loss, headaches, blurred and distorted vision and fever higher than 38 C.
AIDS-Defining Illnesses and Infections:
In addition to a laboratory-based AIDS diagnosis, the independent and presumptive diagnosis of AIDS is based on the presence of an AIDS-defining illness in a person whose HIV positivity and CD4 cell count are unknown. The variety of infections and diseases experienced by a patient with a weakened immune system is usually referred to as AIDS-defining illnesses ("AIDS-defining illnesses" par, 1).
The occurrence of an AIDS-defining illness is a sign that the infected person has entered the latest phase of HIV infection and is developing AIDS. These AIDS-defining illnesses are in four major categories namely opportunistic infections, central and peripheral nervous systems' diseases, malignancies and wasting syndrome. The examples of diseases affecting the central or peripheral nervous system include AIDS dementia complex, neuropathy, myelopathy and myopathy.
Natural AIDS Immunity:
Despite HIV / AIDS being a deadly disease, it has been discovered that about 2% of HIV patients were protected in some way. According to American and Chinese researchers, a group of bodily proteins block the development of HIV into AIDS ("Secrets of AIDS Immunity" par 3). Since mid-1980's, scientists have always known that some HIV infected people don't proceed to develop AIDS. This is as a result of immune cells known as CD8 T cells which were discovered to produce some unidentified features that subdued the HIV cells from replicating. The body proteins appeared to block all threads of HIV and researchers suggest that the proteins could be developed to suppress the greater population's HIV infections.
There is also the discovery of a group of Gambian women who have a noticeable immunity to HIV infection. Despite being exposed to HIV once a week for five years, the Gambian female prostitutes were continuously free of signs of HIV infections. This is because the women were producing highly specific cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTL) reactions to HIV-1 and HIV-2 peptides. In order to detect the CTL's in the Gambian women, the researchers had to resort to some visualized laboratory work ("Natural Immunity" par, 4). While the specific HIV CTLs could be identified by using a patient's own virus to arouse CTLs in vitro in HIV-infected people, the process would not work in uninfected people.
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