Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome:
AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is very much in the air these days, both literally and metaphorically. We read about it in newspapers, view warnings about it on the television screen, and hear of many seminars on this disease. In fact, ever since AIDS was detected as a disease, it has sent shudders through the spines of all people who know how deadly it is. It may have been there in the past and people may have died of it. But its exact detection and subsequent knowledge about it have become known only recently. And both have created a kind of general panic among the people.
What exactly is AIDS? The word is an acronym formed by joining the initial letters of the full name of the disease: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. It can be detected through a specific blood test. It is caused by a particular kind of a deadly virus (Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV) that begins to prey on the leucocytes or the white blood cells of the human body once it manages to reach there. As these white blood cells (WBCs) form the natural defense system of the human body, their weakening and subsequent decrease make a person incapable of fighting and resisting any disease. So even a minor ailment like a cold will become the immediate cause of the death of an AIDS patient.
The AIDS virus is transmitted from one body to another largely by sex with an affected person. People who lead a permissive and promiscuous life, are more prone to catching this disease than people with normal sex life. And this explains why it is found among prostitutes, homosexuals, and those people who have sexual relations with more than one person. But AIDS can be transmitted from one person to another in two other ways. People who have to undergo blood transfusion repeatedly can fall prey to it because the blood they receive from outside may have in it the AIDS virus. Then the drug addicts, who generally use one needle for injecting drugs, are prone to this disease because one of the addicts may be suffering from AIDS. In the same way, AIDS can be transmitted from one person to another if they use the same razor.
It is difficult to detect the symptoms of AIDS at the start for the affected person seems to have nothing wrong with his body in the initial stage. But as the disease takes root in his blood, he begins to suffer from general weakness, loss of weight, night sweat, and a mild, unidentified fever. Of course, it is possible that a person with one or two or all of the symptoms may not have AIDS at all, but generally, these symptoms begin to appear in the body of an AIDS patient once the disease has taken root. As it is difficult to detect it early, through an apparent physical system, the best method is to go in for a special AIDS test.
Thus far there is no cure for this disease. Unfortunately, those who have been already affected have no reliable treatment available to them. But those who are free from it can certainly avoid it if they understand its causes and take the necessary precautions. These precautions include avoidance of frequent changes of sex partners, condom and barrier cream (example- dextrin sulfate) that are effective in checking HIV transmission, avoidance of using the hypodermic needle more than once, and of course avoiding blood transfusion or, at least, making sure that the blood received from outside does not contain the AIDS virus.
Though there is no foolproof cure for this disease at present, medical scientists and researchers all over the world are busy trying to invent a cure for this deadly disease. In India too, the allopathic, as well as the native systems of medicine, are trying to discover some kind of vaccine which may act against the AIDS virus and save the life of an affected patient. But until that happens, prevention is the only cure. And in this, the patient must minister to himself.