September features two days important to the AIDS awareness cause: National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day on the 18th and National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day on the 27th.
While most people know that AIDS is a very serious condition, many don’t know much about it. Today, ARCpoint Labs shares the basics on AIDS.
What You Should Know About AIDS
What is AIDS?
AIDS, short for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is the last stage of HIV infection. When HIV progresses to AIDS, it means the immune system is damaged to the point that it is extremely vulnerable to infections and cancers.
AIDS is not inherited — you can catch HIV after birth, and it may progress into AIDS due to immune system deficiencies. AIDS is a syndrome, not a single disease — it is complex and includes a range of symptoms.
Though everyone must have HIV to have AIDS, not all HIV infections progress to AIDS. If you have a low T-cell count or one or more opportunistic infections (OIs) associated with AIDS, then you are diagnosed with AIDS and should receive medical treatment, or AIDS could prove fatal.
How is AIDS Spread?
There is a misconception that AIDS is a disease that can be spread. In reality, AIDS is the last stage of HIV infection. AIDS itself is not a disease — HIV is the disease that can be transmitted through direct contact with certain bodily fluids, including blood, semen, pre-seminal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. For HIV to spread, these infected fluids must contact another person’s mucouse membrane or damaged tissue (as in a cut), or be injected into the bloodstream. Often, HIV is spread through sexual activities and drug use.
How Prevalent is AIDS?
In the US alone, 32,052 people were diagnosed with AIDS in 2011, with the vast majority of these among male adults and adolescents. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that there were 487,692 people with an AIDS diagnosis in the US, and 15,529 deaths in that year alone.
Globally, over 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981, when the first cases were reported. Citizens of low- and middle-income nations are particularly at risk for AIDS, since HIV infection is prevalent and access to preventative treatments and medical care is limited.
AIDS Prevention With ARCpoint Labs
ARCpoint Labs provides HIV testing to help you monitor your health and ensure that you and your sexual partner(s) don’t have HIV. Our services are non-judgmental, accurate, and completely confidential. In fact, since we don’t require insurance, your HIV testing doesn’t have to appear on your medical record.
To learn more about HIV testing in your area, contact your nearest ARCpoint Labs today!