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  HAVING AIDS

AIDS virus attacking cell AIDS virus attacking cell

A person with HIV becomes sick with AIDS when his/her immune system is seriously compromised. This happens when the CD4+ cell count in the blood drops below 200 cells/µl. CD4+ cell count is a key parameter for measuring efficacy of HIV vaccines. When CD4+ cell count drops below 200 cells/µl, the body's immune system is unable to fight and becomes the victim of opportunistic infections.

The opportunistic infections most commonly associated with AIDS are:
  • Lung infections called Pneumocystis pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis
  • A skin cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma and some types of lymphomas
  • Eye infections caused by Cytomegalovirus
  • Fungal infections to the mouth or throat, or vaginal infections; all are caused by the fungus Candida, which affects the mucous membranes.
When the CD4+ cell count begins to drop below normal levels, the immune system is becoming compromised. At this point, it is important to start treatment with antiretroviral medications.
 
As AIDS progresses, other serious health concerns may develop. These include substantial weight loss, brain tumors or dementia and other health issues. Serious health problems like these may lead to death if the disease is not treated.
 
The course of the disease varies from person to person. Some die soon after becoming sick with AIDS, and others live normally for many years with medication. A few HIV-positive people stay healthy for many years without medication.
 

 

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