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What is HIV?
AIDS (Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a syndrome caused by a virus called HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). The illness alters the immune system, making people much more vulnerable to infections and diseases. This susceptibility worsens as the syndrome progresses.
HIV is found in the body fluids of an infected person (semen and vaginal fluids, blood and breast milk). The virus is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood and sexual contact. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy, delivering the baby during childbirth, and through breast feeding.
HIV can be transmitted in many ways, such as vaginal, oral sex, anal sex, blood transfusion, and contaminated hypodermic needles.
Both the virus and the syndrome are often referred to together as HIV/AIDS. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. As a result, some will then develop AIDS. The development of numerous opportunistic infections in an AIDS patient can ultimately lead to death.
According to research, the origins of HIV date back to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century in west-central Africa. AIDS and its cause, HIV, were first identified and recognized in the early 1980s.
Symptoms of HIV
The symptoms of HIV can vary greatly from person to person. No two men with HIV will experience the exact same symptoms. However, an HIV infection in men will generally follow this pattern:
- acute illness
- asymptomatic period
- advanced infection
Approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with HIV experience flu-like symptoms within two to four weeks after becoming infected. This flu-like illness is known as acute HIV infection. It’s the primary stage of the infection and lasts until the body has created antibodies against the HIV virus.
The most common symptoms include:
- body rash
- sore throat
- severe headaches
Less common symptoms may include:
- swollen lymph nodes
- ulcers in the mouth or on the genitals
- muscle aches and joint pain
- nausea and vomiting
- night sweats
Symptoms typically last one to two weeks. If you’re experiencing several of these symptoms and suspect you may have been infected, schedule an appointment with your doctor and get tested.
After the initial symptoms disappear, HIV may not cause any other symptoms for months or years. During this time, the virus replicates within your body and begins to weaken your immune system. You won’t feel or look sick, but the virus is still active, and you can easily transmit it to others. This is why early testing, even when you feel fine, is so important.
It may take up to 10 years or longer, but HIV may eventually break down your immune system. Once this happens, HIV will progress to AIDS, which is the last stage of infection. At this point, your immune system is severely damaged, making you more susceptible to opportunistic infections.
These are conditions that the body would normally be able to fight off, but that can be life-threatening to those infected with HIV. You may notice that you frequently get colds, flus, and fungal infections. You might also experience the following AIDS symptoms:
- persistent diarrhea
- chronic fatigue
- rapid weight loss
- cough and shortness of breath
- recurring fever, chills, and night sweats
- rashes, sores, or lesions in the mouth or nose, on the genitals, or under the skin
- prolonged swelling of the lymph nodes in the armpits, groin, or neck
- memory loss, confusion, or neurological disorders
How is HIV Spread?
People have lots of questions about the ways you can get HIV. HIV is transmitted in blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. The most common ways HIV is spread are by
- having vaginal or anal intercourse without a condom with someone who has HIV/AIDS
- sharing needles or syringes with someone who has HIV/AIDS
being deeply punctured with a needle or surgical instrument contaminated with HIV
- getting HIV-infected blood, semen, or vaginal secretions into open wounds or sores
Babies born to women with HIV/AIDS can get HIV from their mothers during birth or from breastfeeding.
HIV is not transmitted by simple casual contact such as kissing, sharing drinking glasses, or hugging.
Getting and Giving Blood
Some people are concerned about the risk of HIV when getting or giving blood. Hospitals, blood banks, and health care providers in the United States are extremely careful. Syringes and needles are only used once. And blood is always tested before it’s banked. So, today, there is practically no risk of getting or spreading HIV by giving or receiving blood.
What is Tonsillitis?
The tonsils are two small glands that sit on either side of the throat. In young children, they help to fight germs and act as a barrier against infection.
When the tonsils become infected, they isolate the infection and stop it spreading further into the body.
As a child’s immune system develops and gets stronger, the tonsils become less important and usually shrink. In most people, the body is able to fight infection without the tonsils.
Removal of the tonsils is usually only recommended if they’re causing problems, such as severe or repeated episodes of tonsillitis (see below).
Causes and Symptoms of Tonsillitis
Bacterial and viral infections can cause tonsillitis. A common cause is Streptococcus (strep) bacteria. Other common causes include:
- Influenza virus
- Epstein-Barr virus
- Parainfluenza viruses
- Herpes simplex virus
The main symptoms of tonsillitis are inflammation and swelling of the tonsils, sometimes severe enough to block the airways. Other symptoms include:
- Throat pain or tenderness
- Redness of the tonsils
- A white or yellow coating on the tonsils
- Painful blisters or ulcers on the throat
- Loss of appetite
- Ear pain
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing through the mouth
- Swollen glands in the neck or jaw area
- Fever, chills
- Bad breath
In children, symptoms may also include:
- Abdominal pain
Can tonsillitis be prevented?
- In certain instances, tonsillitis can be prevented by avoiding exposure to potential sources of infection.
- Avoid contact with individuals with upper respiratory tract infections or strep throat.
- Wash hands frequently to prevent the spread of the virus or bacteria that can cause tonsillitis.
- Do not use utensils or other items touched by infected individuals.
HIV and Tonsillitis
HIV symptoms can be part of a reaction to newly-acquired HIV, but HIV is not the most common cause of tonsillitis and swollen glands, not by a long shot. Lots of other germs can cause these symptoms.