Research Paper on HIV and AIDS

Kimberly H. Morgan

EDRC-533: Medical and Psychosocial Aspects

Dr. Michelle L. Priester

April 30, 2018



HIV is a virus that causes AIDS. The term in full stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus has led to massive deaths globally with many more people being infected as well as being affected by the effects of the virus. In this paper, we shall describe the virus in depth, showing how it gets into a person’s body, its causes and symptoms. We shall also discuss its prevalence and how it has affected people’s lives. Most importantly, we shall discuss how a person can be treated after being infected with the virus. Finally, we shall study various preventative measures that can be used against the virus.

HIV Definition

The term HIV means Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This is a virus that makes the immune system of a person weak through destruction of vital cells that fight infection and diseases. To date, there is no existence of a cure in the United States nor in other parts of the world. Nevertheless, it is easy to prevent HIV infection through varying control measures. . Depending on different factors, some people are more prone to getting infected than others. Such factors include risky sexual behaviors, sex partners and environment (CDC, 2018).HIV is to a large extent spread through unsafe sex, blood contamination, needles, breastfeeding, and delivery and from a mother to her child during pregnancy.

AIDS Definition

Unlike HIV that is a virus, AIDS is a full-blown disease caused by HIV virus. Once a person’s immune system becomes extremely weak, then he\she is said to have AIDS. At this moment, a person’s immune system is not able to fight diseases or infection. There are certain illnesses and symptoms that develop as a result of a person contracting AIDS. This can also be described as the last HIV stage since at this moment the infection is highly advanced. If the symptoms of this disease are not controlled or treated, a person ends up losing life (Avert, 2017).

How a Person Get Infected with HIV and HIV Life-cycle

HIV attacks T- helper cells which are also known as CD4 cells. This are some forms of white cells. A person is able to have a strong immune system through CD4 cells being healthy because it’s the only way they can be able to fight infections and diseases. It is not possible for HIV to reproduce or grow without being in T-helper cells. HIV makes many copies or reproduces while inside these cells. As a result of the reproduction, the immune system gets damaged which causes it to weak a person’s natural immune system. The overall health of a person is the main determinant of how the HIV virus grows. Other determinants of HIV growth is how constant a person takes treatment and how early a person gets diagonalzed. If the antiretroviral treatment is taken correctly, then the immune system remains healthy hence preventing illnesses and symptoms that are associated with development of AIDS (May, 2011).

There are a number of stages involved in the HIV life cycle. First, the virus attaches itself on the T-helper cell before releasing HIV inside the cell. After HIV virus gets inside the T-helper cell, it alters its genetic material with an aim of getting into the cell nucleus where it overtakes it. After that the virus gets into replication stage where HIV proteins are produced facilitating more production of HIV. The last stage in the HIV life cycle is the assembly, budding and maturation stage. At this stage more particles of HIV are released from CD4 cells into a person’s bloodstream (Avert, 2017).

HIV\AIDS Prevalence

Since the epidemic of HIV\AIDS came into being, over 70 million individuals have been reported to be infected with the virus with more than 35 million individuals dying out of the disease. Approximately 37 million people are living with the virus globally with about 0.8% of the infected people being between the age of 15 and 49 years. The most affected part of the world affected by the epidemic is the Sub-Saharan Africa with proximately in person in every 25 living with the virus. This number accounts for about two-thirds of the people living with the virus globally (WHO, 2018).


The cause of HIV/AIDS is a virus. The virus spreads from one person to another either through blood or sexual contact, or it can pass through pregnancy from a mother to a child, during childbirth and through breastfeeding. During sexual contact, a person gets HIV virus if there is engagement of anal, vaginal or oral sex with a partner that has the virus. The virus enters a person’s body through small tears or through mouth sores and also it can get into a person’s blood through the vagina or rectum during sexual activities. A person can also get HIV virus infection though sharing of needles (Mayo Clinic, 2018).


As the HIV virus continues to destroy the immune cells in a person’s body, the person may begin developing some chronic or mild symptoms that may include fatigue, fever, diarrhea, swollen lymph nodes, yeast infection, loss of weight and herpes zoster. It is not advisable to rely on the above symptoms alone because they are familiar with symptoms of other illnesses. The only share of knowing if a person is infected with HIV or not is through getting tested. It is important to get tested for HIV because a person is able to make healthy decisions of either preventing the infection or living positively with the virus (HIV Gov., 2017).

The late HIV infection stage which is also when a person has a full- blown AIDS has symptoms that may include rapid loss of weight; night sweats or recurring fever; extreme fatigue; prolonged lymph glands swelling in places such as groin, armpits or neck; prolonged diarrhea; sore anus, genitals or mouth; pneumonia; blotches on the skin and memory loss and depression. Like mentioned earlier, the only way a person can determine if he has full-blown AIDS is by going for a test (HIV Gov., 2017).

Effects and Complications of HIV in a Humans Body

When a person contracts HIV virus, he begins with symptoms that are very familiar to a normal flu. Some of the symptoms may include skin rush, fever, swollen glands and joint pains (Joseph, 2012). If the victim fails to seek treatment, the person gets to a risk of developing symptomatic HIV. The virus at this stage is more likely to be passed on to other people. If treatment is not sought at this stage, the person gets to a high risk of contracting full blown AIDS. Further, a HIV\AIDS victim gets to a high risk of getting opportunistic infections that may include tuberculosis, pneumonia, some cancers, cytomegalovirus, thrush, cryptococcal meningitis and toxoplasmosis (Silvana, 2017).

Treatment of HIV

HIV treatment involves use of ART. ART is basically a combination of a number of drugs. Currently, there are 25 varying medicines that have been approved by FDA to treat HIV (Kalichan, 2013). The ART drugs function through preventing HI V virus from duplicating. As such, the immune system of the victim is maintained while the HIV progression is slowed down. Before prescribing these drugs to a patient, a doctor considers a number of factors such as allergy presence, costs and side effects. HIV drugs is classified into six classes that include: CCR5 antagonists; fusion inhibitors; intergrase stand transfer inhibitors; non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors; nuleoside reverse transcriptase inibitors and protease inhibitors (Health-line, 2017).

HIV\AIDS Preventative Measures

Even though a lot of efforts has been put in an effort to prevent HIV virus, there is no vaccine to help curb it that has been found. The only way HIV virus can be prevented is through avoiding risky behaviors. Among risky behaviors that can help prevent AIDS is avoiding unprotected sex and avoiding sharing of needles. HIV can also be prevented through avoidance of anal, oral and vaginal sex. Another prevention measure is to ensure that one only engages in sex with a single partner who is known to be free from HIV infection. A condom can also be used to prevent HIV infection if they are well and consistently used (Dana, 2012).

It is also important to avoid risky sexual behaviors with multiple partners. Avoidance of street drugs that require injections is also important in the effort to avoid HIV virus. Sharing of injections is also very risky when it comes to spreading HIV virus. Drugs should be fixed with sterile water with the skin of a patient being cleaned with alcohol swab during injection. Needles should also be disposed in the right manner. To prevent transmission of HIV from a mother to the baby during pregnancy, ART drugs should be used. Mothers should ensure that they are tested of HIV early in pregnancy to ensure that the right precautions are taken to secure the baby from infection. Most importantly, there are drugs that can be taken by people that are not infected to lower their chances of infection (NAP, 2018).


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