How big is the AIDS problem?
Nowadays, AIDS has a pandemic character. According to data published by UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS), in 2012 there were approximately 35.3 million HIV carriers in the world.
In connection with the approaching commemoration of the World AIDS Day and the beginning of the month-long campaign “It’s not a shame to know”, the manager of the “City Lab” laboratory, Dr. Paulina Draghieva-Ivanova, answered some of the main questions regarding the disease
- What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
HIV is a virus. Its name is derived from the English Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
Untreated HIV infection turns into AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS) after 10-15 years. The HIV virus attacks important cells of the body’s immune system called CD4. CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell that play a major role in protecting the body from infection. The normal number of such cells in a healthy organism is between 500 and 1,500 cells per cubic millimeter of blood. By destroying these cells, HIV disrupts the proper functioning of the immune system, making the body susceptible to a number of life-threatening diseases (so-called opportunistic infections) that would not affect a healthy organism. The progressive decrease in the number of CD4 cells is an indicator of the presence of HIV, and in the event that their number falls below 200 cells per cubic meter, it is considered that the infection has entered the third stage – the so-called. AIDS.
It is important that people are informed that an HIV positive result does not mean that a person has AIDS, but that he is a carrier of the virus.
- Who are the most vulnerable population groups?
In Bulgaria, the tendency for the number of HIV-positive men to be greater than that of women is maintained. The organizations advise everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 to be screened at least once, and high-risk groups even more often. High-risk populations include gay and bisexual men, people who use intravenous drugs, people involved in prostitution, and young people who have unprotected sex.
- How is the infection transmitted?
Despite common concerns, there are only a few ways a person can become infected with the HIV virus:
- Sex without protection (including oral sex)
- Using the same needle
- Transmission from mother to baby during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding
- Direct blood contact: infected blood transfusions and tissue and organ transplants
According to data from the Ministry of Health, 90% of those newly registered with HIV infection in Bulgaria are sexually infected.
It is important to note that the infection is not transmitted by airborne droplets, toiletries, insect bites or touch.
- What are the symptoms and stages of the disease?
First, it is important to emphasize that you cannot rely on symptoms to tell you that you are carrying the HIV virus. The only way to know for sure is to research yourself!
The development of HIV infection can be conditionally divided into three stages, depending on the specific symptoms. It is important to know that symptoms vary from person to person and not everyone experiences the same symptoms. The distinct stages are:
- Primary HIV infection – Symptoms are non-specific. In some people, it can be expressed by flu-like symptoms (high fever, sore throat, skin rashes, diarrhea, etc.) between the 2nd and 4th week after infection. Others infected may not show any symptoms. For this reason, the risk of the infection at this stage remaining undiagnosed is very high, and it is recommended that if you have concerns that you may have been infected, you must be examined. One in eight living with the HIV virus is unaware of their infection! During this stage, the virus develops very actively and a person is highly contagious.
- Asymptomatic latent phase – this is a period during which there are no symptoms of infection. This stage can last up to 10 years and with proper treatment, this period can be extended to several decades. Even without symptoms, an infected person can transmit the virus.
- Stage of advanced Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome – it is considered that when the CD4 cells decrease below the limit of 200 cells per cubic liter of blood, the disease has entered the third stage. AIDS symptoms are actually symptoms of diseases and conditions that develop in a person with a damaged immune system, such as Opportunistic infections are most common among AIDS patients.
- Is there a cure?
There is no cure. Therapy that controls the progression of HIV infection allows people to live long and fulfilling lives, which also necessitates periodic HIV testing. Testing is the only way to detect infection, and prevention is the best. a method of preventing disease.
We, at City Lab, believe that it is extremely important for one to be informed. In this regard, and with the upcoming celebration of the World AIDS Day, we want to offer our patients a fourth-generation “antigen-antibody” test, which will be available at a preferential price of 15 BGN