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Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).  Current data shows that it takes 10 years from the time of infection for AIDS to develop and 5 years from diagnosis to death.

AIDS has been listed among the known diseases since 1981.  The medical community first became aware of the symptoms among the gay community in San Francisco.  According to the World Health Organization’s 2012 Report, the persons infected with the HIV virus in the European Union numbered close to 30,000.  Of these, three-fourth were men and 10 percent involved the age group between 15 and 24 years.  The number of HIV infected persons in Hungary is above the Union’s average; however, the statistics include foreigners who arrived already infected but were only diagnosed in Hungary.

The HIV virus is transmitted sexually through blood,but, a pregnant woman may infect her baby through the womb or during the birth process.

The symptoms of AIDS (and HIV infection)

AIDS is actually the last phase of an HIV infection.  The first symptoms are the first symptoms of an HIV infection.   A few weeks after infection, pimples, fever and meningitis may appear.  This lasts for possibly only two weeks.  Most infected persons do not think of HIV at this point since it is followed by a symptom free phase.  Only a blood test would show the infection at this point.  The next phase of the disease is characterized by lymph node enlargement lasting, generally, through a period of several months.         

The actual AIDS develops at this point in the wake of the HIV infection.  Irreversible damage is caused to the immune system in this last phase.  The patients experience great amount of weight loss and the return of pimples and diarrhea and inflammation so characteristic of this phase of AIDS.  Symptoms affecting the nervous system, such as mental deterioration and infective diseases may also appear most prevalent of which is vacuolar myelopathy and cancer.  In the end, death is not caused by the HIV virus itself but by the fatal infection or cancer resulting from the damaged immune system.

Diagnosing AIDS

The HIV virus (part of the HIV-1 or HIV-2 virus family) may be shown with a blood test.  Blood is taken several times and tested with various different methods.  The simpler AIDS test is 96% accurate.  In case of a positive result, a more expensive test with 100% accuracy is used wherein the virus concentration may also be deduced.

Treatment of the HIV infection and AIDS

The main purpose of the treatment is to destroy the HIV virus and to prevent complications of the immune system.  The smaller the virus concentration in the body, the smaller amount of cells will be considered infected in which case the occurrence of symptoms of missing immunity will probably also decrease.  Various antiviral compounds are used to attain this since there is no currently available drug effective of itself.  If the disease remains untreated, the patient will reach the final phase of AIDS in a relatively short time.