Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) refers to a range of conditions caused by HIV. Since being identified in the 1980s, HIV/AIDS has killed an estimated 35 million people worldwide. This disease has significantly impacted society, as people with the virus have been wrongfully discriminated against because of misconceptions surrounding AIDS.
After being initially infected, a person may feel like they have the flu for a short time, followed by a long period of no symptoms. Once the infection starts to progress, the immune system starts to gradually decline, making it more susceptible to developing tuberculosis and other diseases or tumors. Once the body begins to create additional infections, the infection becomes AIDS.
The most common methods for transmitting HIV are unprotected sex, hypodermic needles, contaminated blood transfusions, and from mother to child. It’s important to know that HIV cannot be sent through certain bodily fluids like tears and saliva. Safe sex, pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis, treating those infected and needle exchange programs are some examples of preventative methods. Currently, there is no cure or vaccine for HIV/AIDS, but antiretroviral medication slows the disease down and can lead to a near-normal life expectancy. The average survival time for HIV/AIDS without treatment is 11 years.