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Clinics and hospitals provide STD testing services, and you should definitely take advantage-- early detection is key in treatment. Watch this video to learn more.
Transcript: Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are passed from one...
Sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs, are bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are passed from one person to another through sexual acts. Most STDs can be treated or cured, but without treatment, can result in illness or even sterility. Once you begin having sex, it's important to see your doctor, or go to a testing clinic, for STD tests at least once a year. This will put your mind at ease, or enable you to seek treatment for an STD should you have one. In addition to this routine screening, you should see your doctor immediately if you experience: Abnormal discharge from your penis or vagina, pain during sex, pain during urination, or growths on your genitals or anus, such as bumps, blisters, sores or a rash. However, some STDs have minimal, or no symptoms, and this makes routine testing absolutely vital for sexually active people. (Most STDs can be diagnosed via blood, urine, or cell samples. But here's where things get tricky: Most doctors won't test you for STDs if you don't ask, and not every doctor will test for every disease. That is why YOU need to initiate the STD talk with your doctor. Ask what she usually screens for in an STD test, and see if you're being checked for everything that you're worried about. Most insurance plans will cover STD testing, but it is also possible to obtain inexpensive or free tests from government-funded and independent testing clinics. Your local Planned Parenthood is a great place to start. A blood test involves taking samples of your blood from a vein in your arm and sending those samples to a lab for screening. Blood tests can screen for common STDs like HIV, the potentially deadly virus that causes AIDs; HSV, the virus that causes herpes; hepatitis B, a virus that inflames the liver; and potentially deadly syphilis. Urine tests are not as always as accurate as blood tests. They are, however, a way to screen for diseases like HIV, or gonorrhea, which can cause infertility or even death. A physical exam is another way in which a doctor can check for STDs. Because some STDs involve outbreaks, a visual exam may be all that is needed for diagnosis. STDs like genital herpes, syphilis, pubic lice, or genital warts, which are caused by HPV, can be seen with the naked eye. However, a follow-up test is usually ordered to confirm the diagnosis. For women, the best confirmation for many STDs is a swab test, which usually involves taking a sample of the cells in the cervix. A cervical swab can test for gonorrhea; Chlamydia, which can cause infertility; and the bacterial infection trichomoniasis. A pap smear, which is a similar procedure, can test for HPV, the virus that causes genital warts and cervical cancer in women. STDs can be scary, but many are treatable. Ensure your safest, healthiest sex life by talking to a health care provider about regular screening for STDs!More »
Last Modified: 2013-10-15 | Tags »
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For most people, sex is a lot more fun when you know that you are NOT going to get pregnant. How well do you know your birth control? Are you an expert, or are you still practicing birth control at a junior high level?
Last Modified: 2013-08-29 | Tags »
Sex, safe sex, birth control, the pill, condoms, pregnancy, STDs.
What is diabetes, really? Do you know what GERD stands for? Test your knowledge about troubling health problems that affect millions of Americans.
Last Modified: 2014-09-18 | Tags »
diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, erectile dysfunction, schizophrenia, aids, hiv, adhd, migraines, headaches, copd, emphysema, bronchitis, depression, insomnia
Prescription birth control, otherwise known as the pill, is one of the most commonly used methods for contraception. Watch this video for more information about the pros and cons the pill.
Transcript: Oral contraception, more commonly known as "the pill," is the most popular method of prescription birth...
Oral contraception, more commonly known as "the pill," is the most popular method of prescription birth control in the United States. It comes in two forms: combination, and progestin-only, which is often referred to as the "mini-pill." Combination pills contain both estrogen and progestin, two types of hormones similar to those made naturally by a woman's ovaries. This combination pill works primarily by preventing the ovaries from releasing an egg each month. Some combination pills, like Yas and Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, contain less estrogen for women who feel the effects of the hormone more strongly or those who prefer to take minimal doses. The mini-pill, which only contains progestin, works by thickening a woman's cervical mucous and thinning the lining of the uterus. It may also suppress ovulation, but not reliably like combination pills. For this reason, the Mini-Pill is less forgiving than the combination pill and MUST be taken at the same time each day. To start taking the pill, you must get a prescription from a doctor, who will decide which type and dose is best for you. After getting the prescription filled, a woman should begin taking the pill according to her doctor's instructions. For maximum efficacy, the pill should be taken at the exact same time every day. Combination pills come in 21 or 28-day packs. Both have 21 hormonally active days of pills, while the last seven days in a 28 pack are simply "reminder" pills, which do NOT contain any hormones. Progestin-only pills come in 28-day packs, every day of which contains hormones. Regardless of the type of combination pill a woman takes, menstruation occurs during the fourth week of her cycle. Women taking combination pills have the option of suppressing a period by skipping the "placebo" week and starting a new pack immediately. Meanwhile, with the progestin-only pill, the periods can be irregular, or even disappear altogether. The pill is such a popular method of birth control due to its price tag-about $15 U.S. dollars a month-and its high rate of effectiveness-over 99 percent when used perfectly. In addition, the combination pill has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cancer of the ovaries and uterus. Other benefits include a reduction in acne, osteoporosis, and premenstrual symptoms. Of course, the pill is not for everyone. It has been shown to slightly increase the risk of a blood clot in the legs, lungs, heart, or brain. For this reason, it is NOT recommended for use by women with a history of blood clots, blood clotting disorders, or uncontrolled high blood pressure. Nor is it recommended for smokers over the age of 35. In addition, women over 180 pounds, or who have a body mass index above 30, and those who take certain medications like St. John's Wort, may find the pill less effective. If you are taking oral contraceptives, remember that your birth control does NOT protect against sexually transmitted diseases, so you will want to use a condom as back-up. The pill is a very effective method of preventing an unwanted pregnancy, but it is not for everyone. Women that may have trouble remembering to take contraception should explore other methods.More »
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Understanding HIV and AIDs is vital in preventing them from greeting you at your doorstep. Find out more about the risks and concerns involving HIV and AIDS by taking a look at this video.
Transcript: AIDS is a disease that represents the final stages of infection with an incurable virus known as the...
AIDS is a disease that represents the final stages of infection with an incurable virus known as the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. To understand how AIDS works, it helps to have a grasp of HIV. Simply put, HIV attacks and destroys cells in the immune system, much as an invading army might destroy a high wall that protects a city. With a weakened immune system, a person becomes less able to fight off infections, as an army would have trouble defending a city without a protective wall. Before HIV can attack, it has to get in. HIV lives in bodily fluids like semen, vaginal secretions, blood, and breast milk. A person who carries HIV can pass it to another through any of these, usually via sexual intercourse, breastfeeding, or the sharing of drug paraphernalia. Rarely, a person will contract HIV through blood transfusions. And while it is highly unlikely for people to acquire HIV through saliva, it is possible to pass it through oral sex. Once the virus is transferred, it attaches to its new host body's sex, or T-cells, which are integral parts of the immune system. Inside the T-cell, HIV literally changes to become part of the body's DNA, or genetic code. At this point, the body will be forced to produce the virus. Because HIV lives in the immune system, every time a foreign invader triggers this system to work, HIV is activated, too. This means that when "good" T-cells fight, for example, the flu virus, new HIV particles are formed. During the first days and weeks after a person is infected with HIV, he or she may experience flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, fatigue, and enlarged lymph nodes. These symptoms generally disappear without treatment. But, as the body is forced to create new HIV cells, the immune system gets weaker, a progression that can take from several months to more than ten years. Eventually, untreated HIV leads to acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS. The name is appropriate: Acquired means to obtain an infection. Immune deficiency refers to weakness in the immune system, and syndrome is a group of problems that comprise a disease. AIDS is generally diagnosed by a blood or saliva test that measures the T-cells in a person's body. If the count drops below 200/mm3, the immune system is seriously damaged and unable to fight infections properly. A diagnosis of AIDS also occurs if a person gets one of 26 opportunistic infections, which are conditions common in advanced HIV patients, but rarely found in people with intact immune systems. Most people who die of AIDS do so from one of these infections. But while there is no cure for the disease, the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy has caused the number of AIDS-related deaths to decrease significantly. Over one million Americans are infected with HIV. Because 300, 000 people are still unaware of their HIV infection, getting tested and making sure you know your partner's status is essential.More »
Last Modified: 2013-10-21 | Tags »
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There are plenty of myths about herpes out there. Just how do you know what's fact and what's not? Watch this video to learn the top ten herpes facts you should know.
Transcript: There are 50 million cases of genital herpes in the United States alone, yet myths about the disease...
There are 50 million cases of genital herpes in the United States alone, yet myths about the disease abound. Here are ten facts you need to know. Herpes simplex is a contagious viral infection that can affect the mouth or the genitals. This disease often manifests itself as painful sores on either of these areas. Perhaps one of the most important facts about herpes is that it's contagious, ALL of the time. This is vital, because some people mistakenly believe that if they are not having an outbreak of sores that they cannot spread the virus. Ninety percent of people infected with the herpes virus are asymptomatic, and don't know they have herpes...yet still pass it to their partners. Herpes simplex is a virus that can be spread via the briefest of skin-to-skin contact. Kissing, oral or anal sex, touching with unwashed hands, and even sharing objects like drinking glasses and towels, can all spread the herpes virus. These high rates of asymptomatic herpes combined with the ease of spreading lead to the frequency with which genital herpes is found in the United States. While using a condom is a smart sexual practice, condoms do not necessarily protect against the spread of genital herpes. This is because the disease may be passed through contact with the thighs, pelvis and stomach. With these statistics in mind, you're probably eager to talk to your doctor about herpes simplex, and that's vital. Here's why: Most doctors don't test for herpes (even during a standard STD test) unless you ask them to. A blood test to determine if you are infected with the herpes virus, called a serology, is more accurate than the basic swab method. If you are considering pregnancy and do not know if you or your partner have been exposed to the herpes virus, it is especially important to find out if either of you is infected. That's because there is a chance that the active herpes virus can be passed to an infant during its trip through the birth canal. In some cases, your doctor may choose a cesarean section delivery to ensure that your baby is not infected. You may wonder why these precautions are necessary, since, while annoying and embarrassing, the herpes virus does not cause bodily harm beyond blisters. While this is true for you, newborn babies do not have the developed immune system that is needed to fight herpes simplex and may die if they contract the virus. If you have herpes, you are more prone to contract HIV and other STDs. Since your immune system is compromised because of the virus, it is important to be honest with your partner and discuss options to reduce transmission with your doctor. Finally, remember that either you OR your partner can have the herpes virus even if neither of you experience skin lesions! For this reason, it is absolutely vital to visit your doctor for a serology if you're sexually active. Doing so is worth the peace of mind, or medical help, hat will follow!More »
Last Modified: 2013-06-04 | Tags »
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Would you know if you had Chlamydia? Check out this video to get the basics on Chlamydia.
Transcript: Chlamydia is a curable STD that infects about 3 million Americans every year. The disease is caused by...
Chlamydia is a curable STD that infects about 3 million Americans every year. The disease is caused by the transmission of the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Chlamydia can spread to both the male and female sex organs, as well to as the rectum, urinary tract, eyes, and throat, of both genders. This disease is passed through vaginal, anal, and oral sex, or from mother to child during birth. Chlamydia is particularly frightening because three out of four women and one out of two men who are infected have NO symptoms at all...and do not know that they have Chlamydia. If symptoms ARE present, women and men may both experience unusual discharge from their genitals, pain while urinating or defecating, or rectal discharge. Because these symptoms are nonspecific and very rare, it is recommended that ALL sexually active people, be tested regularly for Chlamydia, particularly prior to having sex with a new partner. A doctor can test for the disease with a urine sample or cervical swab. If this lab test comes back positive, additional STD tests should be conducted, as having Chlamydia suggests a likelihood of additional infections. It is very important that the infected individual and ALL current partners begin treatment with antibiotics immediately. The two most common ways to treat Chlamydia are a one-time dose of azithromycin, or twice daily doses of doxycycline for a week. These medications are 95 percent effective at killing off the Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium, and that's vital...because left untreated, Chlamydia can cause irreversible damage. In women, infection can progress to pelvic inflammatory disease, or PID. This condition can cause permanent damage to the fallopian tubes and lead to infertility. PID also increases the chance that a woman will develop an ectopic pregnancy, whereby a fertilized egg is implanted, not in the womb, but in a fallopian tube. This can cause the tube to rupture, potentially resulting in death. An infected woman can also pass the bacterium on to her baby. This can lead to potentially fatal Chlamydial pneumonia or to potentially blinding neonatal conjunctivitis. Women who have Chlamydia are also 5 times more likely to contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, if exposed to it. Men do not usually experience any effects of Chlamydia. However, the disease CAN spread to the testicles, possibly resulting in infertility. On rare occasions, untreated Chlamydia can cause reactive arthritis, a disease that may lead to permanent disability. While knowing the possible effects of Chlamydia is important, it's even more important to take preventative action against the disease. Do so by getting tested regularly for Chlamydia and using male latex condoms. Chlamydia's common occurrence, infrequent side effects, and serious consequences all mean that you should talk to your doctor about getting tested if you are at risk.More »
Last Modified: 2012-12-28 | Tags »
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Many people who have sex choose to use over the counter birth control. Learn more about non prescription birth control in this video.
Transcript: Millions of people who choose to engage in sex use over-the-counter, or OTC, methods of birth control,...
Millions of people who choose to engage in sex use over-the-counter, or OTC, methods of birth control, including male and female condoms, the sponge, and spermicides. Over-the-counter methods are appealing because they are available without a prescription, are inexpensive, and don't alter a woman's hormones. The most commonly used method of birth control is the male condom. A condom is a latex or plastic sheath that is worn on the penis to collect semen. If used perfectly EVERY TIME, condoms are 98 percent effective against pregnancy, but with typical use, they are about 85 percent effective. In addition, condoms are most effective when used with a separately applied vaginal spermicide. To put on a condom, unroll it over an erect penis to the base, leaving about a half- inch of space in the tip for semen. The female condom is another OTC method, effective 95 percent of the time when used perfectly, or 80 percent effective with typical use. It offers some protection against STDs and is a good alternative for people who are allergic to latex. The female condom is a plastic pouch with rings at both ends. It is inserted into the vagina to cover the cervix and prevent sperm from entering the uterus. To use it, insert the closed ring into the vagina like a tampon. Let the outer ring hang an inch outside the vagina. While using a lubricant can make both the male and female condom more comfortable, NEVER use an oil-based brand with latex, as this can cause breakage. Condoms are more effective when combined with another method of birth control, like spermicides. Although spermicides can be used alone, they only reduce pregnancy by 85 percent, and are ineffective at protecting against STDs. Spermicides, which are available in cream, foam, jelly, and suppository form, block the entrance to the uterus and immobilize sperm. Although each preparation is a bit different, a spermicide should generally be inserted into the vagina about ten minutes before intercourse. Spermicide should be reapplied before each additional sexual encounter. Another birth control method that utilizes spermicide is the soft, plastic female sponge. The sponge covers the cervix to block sperm, and generally reduces pregnancy risk by 70 to 90 percent depending on a woman's conception history and accuracy of use. The sponge continuously releases a spermicide. The sponge can be inserted up to 24 hours before intercourse and must remain in place for at least six hours afterward. Before inserting the sponge, activate the spermicide by moistening it with water and squeezing gently. Then, fold the sponge upward from the loop at the bottom and slide it deeply into the vagina. While each of these OTC methods offers protection against pregnancy, none of them are 100 percent effective, and only condoms offer any protection against STDs. Sex is fun, but it does come with risks. Remember to talk to your doctor AND your partner about the birth control method that is right for you, and to use it correctly every time!More »
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A diaphragm is an internal birth control device. It has proved to be a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy. Learn more about diaphragms in this video.
Transcript: A woman can often avoid an unwanted pregnancy by inserting one of several prescription forms of birth...
A woman can often avoid an unwanted pregnancy by inserting one of several prescription forms of birth control, such as the diaphragm, the ring, or the implant. Women who use internal birth control appreciate that it is not felt by either partner, nor does insertion interfere with sex play. On the other hand these forms all require a doctors prescription to obtain and are initially more expensive than over-the-counter methods. The most common of these, the diaphragm, is a dome-shaped cup with a flexible rim made of latex or silicone. This barrier method is used with a spermicide cream or jelly. The diaphragm is inserted into the vagina and fits securely over the cervix. This blocks entry to the uterus, while the spermicide immobilizes wayward sperm. The diaphragm should be inspected under a light before insertion to be sure that no punctures have developed. Two hours or less before intercourse, squirt spermicide in the cup and spread the extra around the rim. Find a comfortable position and separate the vaginal labia. Fold the cup in half, then push the device back in the vagina. The front rim should be wedged behind the pubic bone and the cup should be covering the cervix entirely. Leave a diaphragm in place for six hours after intercourse. If properly cared for, a diaphragm can often be used for about two years. But because changes, such as weight gain, can alter the fit of the diaphragm, bring your device with you to every ob-gyn appointment. Both the contraceptive vaginal ring, called the NUVA-ring, and the progestin implant, called Implanon, are hormonal methods which protect against pregnancy by suppressing ovulation. For this reason, they are more than 99 percent effective with perfect use, compared to the diaphragms 94 percent. The implant, or Implanon, is a plastic device which is the size of a match. Once inserted, it begins releasing the hormone etonogestrel, a progestin, immediately. A doctor inserts Implanon into the arm after numbing the area with local anesthesia. It can be left in place and be effective for up to three years, or can be removed earlier if pregnancy is so desired. Women who use the implant may experience irregular bleeding, but some wind up not menstruating at all. The vaginal ring, on the other hand, contains estrogen and progesterone and encourages a normal 4-week cycle. NuvaRing is a small, flexible ring that is inserted into the vagina once a month. Its then left in place for three weeks, and taken out for one, during which time menstruation occurs. Insert the ring by pressing the sides together and sliding it gently into the vagina. Unlike with the diaphragm, exact placement is not crucial, since the ring releases hormones through the vaginal mucous. Because both the ring and the implant alter a womans hormones, some side effects, like irregular bleeding, weight gain, or breast tenderness may result. All of these methods are effective, but require more of a commitment than over-the-counter birth controland NONE of them protect against sexually transmitted diseases. If youre considering internal methods of birth control, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of each before making a decision!More »
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HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that can lead to serious health problems in men and women if left untreated. Watch this video to learn more about HPV and how to avoid it.
Transcript: The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is an extremely common viral infection. There are about 40 varieties...
The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is an extremely common viral infection. There are about 40 varieties that infect the genitals and which can be passed through sexual contact, even if a person is not exhibiting symptoms. Genital HPV's effects on health can be severe and will vary depending on the HPV strain, and by the strength of the patient's immune system. After a person contracts HPV, his or her body develops some immunity to it. That immune response often squashes symptoms should a person be re-infected, or if the infection lingers. Each strain of HPV has a particular effect on the body. The one that causes genital warts, for example, doesn't cause precancerous lesions. But it IS possible to be infected with multiple strains of genital HPV at the same time. Some strains of the virus don't have an impact in the body. With no symptoms, a person may not even know they have HPV. Other strains produce genital warts, which may appear as a single swelling or a rash. These pink or flesh-colored bumps are usually soft to the touch. Most have a unique cauliflower-like shape that is raised and bumpy. Warts can appear on the thighs, anus and groin area in both men and women. Men can develop them on the penis and scrotum, while women may get warts inside the vagina and cervix. Genital warts are generally harmless.However, more severe health problems will follow from infection with one of the 13 "high risk" strains of genital HPV. These strains cause cell changes in the genital area. If someone contracts high-risk strains repeatedly, or develops a lingering infection, the long-term damage can prompt precancerous or cancerous tumor growths to form. In women, persistent genital HPV infections are a precursor to both cervical and vaginal cancers. In fact, a person cannot contract these cancers unless they've had genital HPV. Cervical cancer starts out as a collection of precancerous cells, a condition called dysplasia. As the cells multiply, mild dysplasia increases in severity. Left unchecked for several years, dysplasia develops into an early form of cancer called cervical carcinoma in situ, and then cervical cancer. A Pap smear can detect even mild dysplasia, which usually can be fully treated...This is just one more reason for women to have an annual Pap smear! In rare cases, prolonged infections in men can also lead to penile cancer. Both men and women are also susceptible to cancers of the anus, mouth and throat as a result of repeated infections with the HPV strains targeting these areas. This means that anal and oral sex aren't without HPV risks. If an HPV infection is caught early, a doctor can begin treatments to prevent precancerous growths from becoming cancerous. Genital HPV has no cure, but its symptoms can be treated. For this reason, it's important to talk to your doctor about safe sex and STD testing.More »
Last Modified: 2012-12-28 | Tags »
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Herpes is a contagious condition that affects millions of people in America. Understanding herpes is very important as it can help you manage it better. To know more, check out this video.
Transcript: One in four Americans is infected with the contagious disease known as genital herpes. But what IS herpes,...
One in four Americans is infected with the contagious disease known as genital herpes. But what IS herpes, anyway? Herpes simplex is a contagious viral infection that manifests as sores on the mouth or the genitals. While outbreaks of the sores can be reduced, there is no cure for herpes. And though the virus is generally harmless, it causes embarrassment for those infected, and can increase susceptibility to other STDs like HIV. There are actually two strains of the herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2. While HSV-1 tends to lead to sores on the mouth and HSV-2 usually presents itself on the genitals, either strain can lead to either outbreak. That's because HSV-1 and HSV-2 are markedly similar, so a cold sore on the mouth can easily be spread to the genitals during oral sex, and vice versa. While herpes is generally thought of as a sexually-transmitted disease, this is not always the case. Up to 80 percent of the population is infected with oral herpes, and most of these contract the virus as children. That's because both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are spread by ANY physical contact. This can include touching, kissing, or sexual acts. The briefest of skin-to-skin contact can transmit herpes. Sometimes, herpes has no symptoms, which is why up to a third of people with the virus remain undiagnosed. Remember that just because someone says they've never had a lesion doesn't mean they can't spread herpes! People with genital herpes who DO exhibit symptoms often notice small sores on the genitals, usually in a cluster. Other times, symptoms can be as subtle as a mild irritation. In an oral herpes outbreak, a cold sore, or "fever blister," will show up on the lips or around the mouth in a similar fashion. Some people also experience flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, aches and pains, or a headache. Regardless of the location, a herpes outbreak tends to start with red, "tingly" skin. In a day or two, sores will appear, although most outbreaks will clear in one to two weeks. So if herpes is forever, does that mean that a person will always have blisters on his or her body? Not at all! Herpes is a virus and will remain in the body for life. But the physical symptoms of herpes, an outbreak of sores, may recur anywhere from often to almost never. An outbreak can be triggered by factors such as illness, stress, diet, menstruation, or skin irritation. Every person's triggers are different, and some people have none. The bottom line is that whether you're having a herpes outbreak or not, once you get the virus, you will ALWAYS have it. For this reason, you should refrain from any sexual contact during an outbreak and practice protected sex at ALL times. It is also important to keep in mind that while a condom can reduce the spread, the only guaranteed way to prevent genital herpes is with abstinence. Herpes simplex is contagious and common! Fifty million genital cases exist in the United States, alone. So talk to your doctor about the prevention and treatment of herpes.More »
Last Modified: 2013-06-04 | Tags »
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HIV becomes AIDS when the patient has an extremely low T-cell count. Watch this video to get details on the moment HIV progresses to the final stage of infection.
Transcript: AIDS is an incurable disease that is the end result of infection by the human immunodeficiency virus,...
AIDS is an incurable disease that is the end result of infection by the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. An individual who contracts HIV may become sick quickly...or can live symptom-free for years. HIV and AIDS are not one-and-the same. Many people who become infected with HIV do not develop AIDs, or don't do so for decades...especially with modern treatments. AIDS, which is an acronym for "acquired immune deficiency syndrome," is the final stage of HIV infection. Because the virus attacks T-cells in the body's immune system, a person has AIDS when their T-cell levels fall below 200/mmc3, as opposed to the 500 to 1,500 found in a healthy person. An extremely low T-cell count means that a person's immune system is no longer healthy enough to effectively fight off intruding viruses and bacteria. Signs that HIV may be turning into AIDS include: extreme fatigue, rapid weight loss, persistent diarrhea, a high fever, and swollen glands in the neck, armpits, or groin. Even if a person doesn't have a low T-cell count, they are still classified as having AIDS if they contract any one of 26 opportunist conditions. These are a group of illnesses that don't generally occur in most people, but do show up in AIDS patients. Two of these are cancers. One, Kaposi's sarcoma, results from a tumor in the blood vessel walls. Kaposi's sarcoma usually appears as disfiguring pink or purple lesions on the skin and mouth. The other cancer, Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, originates in the disease-fighting blood cells known as lymphocytes. This appears as swelling of the lymph nodes. Several opportunist conditions that confirm an AIDS diagnosis stem from invading bacteria, like tuberculosis and bacterial pneumonia. Bacterial pneumonia is a potentially deadly inflammation of the lungs that is one of the most common infections occurring in people with HIV worldwide. Tuberculosis is the leading opportunistic infection in developing nations where access to medications and health care is low. It occurs when bacteria infect the lungs and manifests as prolonged coughing fits. Sometimes, an opportunist infection can be fungal, like candidiasis. Candidiasis causes a white coating to form on the mouth, tongue, or vagina. Although HIV itself is a virus, another virus can enter the body and cause an opportunist infection. One example is cytomegalovirus, or CMV, a herpes virus that healthy adults fight easily. In people with HIV, however, the virus causes damages to the body, most notably the eyes. If untreated, CMV can lead to blindness. Other complications that lead to an AIDS diagnosis include wasting syndrome, whereby a person loses 10 percent or more of body weight, and AIDS dementia complex, where nerve cell damage causes diminished mental functioning. These conditions, and others, mean that HIV has progressed to AIDS. While this is disheartening, many modern medications can keep AIDS infections from progressing indefinitely. If you have HIV, talk to your doctor about diseases that can occur following infection and the best ways to treat them.More »
Last Modified: 2013-10-21 | Tags »
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