Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a serious and often fatal disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV attacks and weakens the immune system, making it more vulnerable to infections and other diseases. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection and is characterized by severe immune system damage and the development of opportunistic infections and cancers.
HIV is primarily transmitted through sexual contact, sharing of needles or other injection equipment, mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding, or exposure to infected blood or other bodily fluids.
The symptoms of HIV/AIDS can vary widely and may include fever, fatigue, weight loss, night sweats, and swollen lymph nodes. As the disease progresses, more severe symptoms may develop, such as diarrhea, opportunistic infections, and cancers.
While there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, antiretroviral therapy (ART) can slow the progression of the disease and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS. ART involves the use of a combination of medications that target different stages of the HIV life cycle, such as reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors.
Prevention is key in the fight against HIV/AIDS. This includes practicing safe sex, using sterile injection equipment, and getting tested regularly for HIV. There are also preventive measures, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which involves the use of medication to reduce the risk of HIV transmission, and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which involves taking medication after potential exposure to HIV to prevent infection.
AIDS has had a significant impact on public health and society as a whole, particularly in low- and middle-income countries with limited access to healthcare resources. Efforts to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS remain a critical global health priority.