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AIDS is caused by a virus called Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV), which has the capacity to destroy the body's immune power. So the body loses the power to resist any infection. Since this deficiency of immunity is acquired after being affected by the HIV virus, this disease state is known as Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS in short.
Why does one get AIDS?
AIDS is transmitted by any of the following:
  • Sexual intercourse with an affected person, with a greater tendency for transmission through repeated anal intercourse. It maybe through homosexual or heterosexual means.
  • Transfusion of infected blood or blood products that have not been tested for HIV.
  • Use of contaminated needles, knives, blades or other instruments that pierce the skin. Intra-venous drug users who share hypodermic syringes without proper sterilization are highly prone to HIV infection.
  • An infected pregnant mother to the child at the time of pregnancy, or at the time of birth. HIV may also be transmitted to the child through the breast milk of an infected mother.
Will a person get AIDS by shaking hands with an infected person?
Thorough investigation reveals no proof of transmission of HIV through the following means:
  • By working together with an infected person
  • By sharing clothes
  • By playing together
  • By family interaction including use of same utensils
  • By travelling in a bus or train
  • By being bitten by mosquitoes and bed bugs
  • By kissing
  • By sneezing
What are the clinical manifestations of AIDS?
The clinical manifestations of AIDS ranges from no symptoms in the early stage to life-threatening symptoms in the advanced stage.
After the primary infection, symptoms of malaise, fever and enlargement of lymph nodes develop in a majority of patients in 3-6 weeks. Many of them recover spontaneously in 2 weeks time and remain in a silent state for even a period of 5-10 years. During this period there maybe no symptoms and only blood tests can detect the disease.
As time advances and the defense mechanism declines, patients develop repeated infections, recurrent diarrhoea and repeated chest infection with poor a response to conventional treatment. Enlargement of lymph glands, fungal infection of the mouth and bleeding disorders due to reduction of blood cells can occur.
Cancerous growths may also develop. The cause of death is usually due to infection or malignant diseases.
What is the test done to detect AIDS?
4-8 weeks after the infection, antibodies to HIV appear in the blood and can be detected by the ELISA Test and the confirmatory Western Blot Test.
How can AIDS be prevented?
HIV transmission can be prevented by:
  • sexual relationship with one faithful partner only
  • practising safe sex by use of condoms
  • use of disposable syringes
  • if blood transfusion is to be given, then use of blood that has been tested and confirmed to be free of HIV.





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If you need help regarding AIDS or wish to take a test in confidence, please click here.

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Sexual intercourse is not the only method of transmission of AIDS

HIV, AIDS, and Older People

National AIDS Control Organisation







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