HIV and the AIDS it causes have appeared 40 years ago

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The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes a weakening of the immune system. This can lead to serious infections that, if left untreated, can often lead to death.

Incidence of HIV infection / AIDS

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that HIV infection and AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) are the fourth leading cause of death worldwide, with about 36 million people dying from AIDS-related illnesses so far.

According to the epidemiological data available from 1985, by the first half of 2021, 4344 people living with HIV were registered in Hungary, 1122 of them had entered the AIDS stage, and 433 people had died due to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

The highest proportion of those infected are homosexual men, so a small number of educational programs also reach them. As a consequence, the lack of knowledge about HIV infection among heterosexual women and men is a significant risk factor.

The case of Márta L., a retired math teacher and grandmother who has been living with HIV for 20 years, is a good example of this. In the spring of 2000, her husband was diagnosed with AIDS after a major weight loss and recurrent fever attacks. Or Éva L., a 42-year-old high school teacher who gave birth to a healthy child in September this year.

HIV infection and AIDS

There are many possibilities for its spread (such as unprotected sexual intercourse, intrauterine infection of the fetus in the case of an undiagnosed expectant mother, joint use of needles in the case of intravenous drug use). The virus is not spread by blood-sucking insects, food, drinking and bathing water, and everyday contact (handshake, kissing, etc.) is not a risk either.

HIV is characterized by the fact that after being introduced into the body, it gradually destroys the cells involved in the immune system over the years to protect them from harmful bacteria, viruses and fungi. Only mild, flu-like symptoms usually develop after infection.

This is when the onset of asymptomatic HIV disease begins, which can last for 5-6 years. 40-50% of those who do not receive medication develop symptomatic HIV disease, during which the body’s immune system becomes weaker (this is caused by the appearance of oral fungus and shingles, for example). In the untreated case, the AIDS stage appears after 8-10 years, with cancers, severe infections, and so on.

Diagnosis of HIV infection

There are two stages in laboratory diagnosis to detect HIV infection: screening tests and confirmatory tests, because a positive result is not enough to make a definitive diagnosis. With the tests used today, the infection can be detected as early as the 2nd week.

Treatment options

According to the medical protocol, medication for a newly diagnosed symptomatic HIV-infected / AIDS patient should be initiated immediately to render it asymptomatic and infectious. In Hungary, the National Institute of Hematology and Infectious Diseases of the South Pest Central Hospital – Szent László site III. The Department of Infectious Diseases and the Outpatient Clinic, as well as the infectious disease centers in Debrecen, Miskolc and Pécs provide care.

How does the Retro Shield Association for People Living with HIV?

In an interview volume entitled Rainbow Lives, published in 2018, one of the transvestite performers, Zoltán Petróczi (artist named Lady Dömper), described the problem as follows: “An average hetero doesn’t see anyone with Kaposi’s sarcoma and has no idea about this disease. What they do not know, they are not afraid of.

The solution could be mass, anonymous filtering campaigns. Although this is primarily the responsibility of the individual, people need to be made aware of the importance of this. Among other things, the association wants to achieve this, as it is important that people have access to credible information about HIV, the importance of screening, and that HIV is not the equivalent of a death sentence.

Anyone who regularly takes their medication as prescribed by a doctor and has a viral load below the measurement range will no longer be infected, such a person is not dangerous to their partner, their child, or the environment!

dr. Rita Szabó, epidemiologist, Retro Shield Association for People Living with HIV
Tamás B. is a volunteer, Retro Shield Association for people living with HIV

Source: Patika Magazin Online by

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