HIV & AIDS – signs, symptoms, transmission, causes & pathology

HIV & AIDS – signs, symptoms, transmission, causes & pathology

HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a
virus that targets cells in the immune system. Over time, the immune system begins to fail
which is called immunodeficiency, and this increases the risk of infections and tumors
that a healthy immune system would usually be able to fend off. These complications are
referred to as AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Now there are two distinct types of HIV—HIV-1
and HIV-2. HIV-1 is the more commonly associated with AIDS in the US and worldwide, HIV-2 is
more rare, and typically restricted to areas in western Africa and southern Asia. HIV-2
is so uncommon that “HIV” almost always refers to HIV-1. Alright HIV targets CD4+
cells, meaning cells that have this specific molecule called CD4 on their membrane. Macrophages,
T-helper cells, and dendritic cells are all involved in the immune response and all have
CD4 molecules; therefore they can be targeted by HIV. The CD4 molecule helps these cells
attach to and communicate with other immune cells, which is particularly important when
the cells are launching attacks against foreign pathogens. So this little molecule is pretty
important for our immune system, but it’s also extremely important for HIV. HIV targets
and attaches to the CD4 molecule via a protein called gp120 found on its envelope. HIV then
again uses gp120 to attach to another receptor, called a co-receptor. HIV needs to bind to
both the CD4 molecule and a coreceptor to get inside the cell. The most common co-receptors
that HIV uses are the CXCR4 co-receptor, which is found mainly on T-cells, or the CCR5 co-receptor
which is found on T-cells, macrophages, monocytes, and dendritic cells. These coreceptors are so important that some
people with homogeneous genetic mutations in their CCR5 actually have resistance or
immunity to HIV, since HIV can’t attach and get into the cell. In fact, even heterozygous
mutations which lead to fewer co-receptors on the cells, can make it harder for the virus
to spread, and results in a slower disease progression. For those without this mutation though, once
HIV binds to CD4 and either CCR5 or CXCR4, it gains access to the cell. HIV is a single-stranded,
positive-sense, enveloped RNA retrovirus, meaning that it injects its single strand
of RNA into the T-helper cell. The “retro” part of retrovirus isn’t referring to its
style, but refers to it needing to use an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to transcribe
a complementary double-stranded piece of “proviral” DNA. Proviral just means that it’s ready
to be integrated into the host’s DNA, so it enters the T-helper cell’s nucleus and
pops itself into the cell’s DNA, ready to be transcribed into new viruses, pretty sneaky,
huh? Well here’s the actual sneaky part—when the immune cells become activated, they start
transcribing and translating proteins needed for the immune response. Ironically, this
means that whenever the immune cell is exposed to something that causes it to start up an
immune response, like any infection, the immune cell ends up inadvertently transcribing and
translating new HIV viruses, which bud off from the cell membrane to infect more cells.
Very sneaky indeed! One thing to know is that HIV is notorious
for making errors when it replicates and that during an infection it can mutate to create
slightly different strains of viruses. These viruses are all still considered “HIV”
but behave slightly differently from each other and target different cells in the host,
in fact that host cell preference is called viral tropism. So let’s start with HIV entering
the body through sexual intercourse which is how it typically spreads from person to
person. At this early point, during what we call acute infection, the R5 strain of HIV,
which bind to the CCR5 coreceptor will get into macrophages, dendritic cells, and T cells.
Usually dendritic cells hanging out in the epithelial or mucosal tissue where the virus
entered the body, capture the virus and migrate to the lymph nodes, where a lot of immune
cells live, and the R5 strain of HIV essentially has a field day, infecting T-helper cells,
macrophages, and more dendritic cells, which leads to a big spike in HIV replication and
the amount of virus found in the patient’s blood. Patients typically experience flu-like
or mononucleosis-like symptoms during the acute infection. In response, the immune system
mounts a counterattack, and starts to control the amount of viral replication, and the amount
of virus in the blood declines to lower but still detectable levels by 12 weeks—at which
point the patient enters the chronic or clinically-latent phase, which can last between 2 and 10 years.
If we also plot the amount of T cells alongside the amount of virus, we’ll see that they
loosely mirror each other, which makes total sense, right? Initially you have a considerable
decline in the acute phase until the immune system mounts its counterattack. After this
point, even though there may not be any clinical signs or symptoms of the virus, the virus
is steadily chipping away at the immune system, and the number of viruses in the blood slowly
increases, while at the same time T cells slowly decrease, losing about 1-2 billion
T cells every day. During this chronic phase, T cell counts usually remain above 500 cells
/ mm3, about the size of the head of a pin, and patients can still fight off other infections
fairly well, although some infections like tuberculosis become more common and severe. Remember how HIV replication can create mutations?
Well during the chronic phase of HIV infection, it’s worth pointing out that some patients
develop an X4 strain of HIV which targets the CXCR4 coreceptor, which is essentially
only T-cells. These X4 strains kind of lay low in the lymphoid tissues, and steadily
destroy of CD4 T cells, since about 90% of T cells are found in lymphoid tissue. Not
all patients develop the X4 strain, though, so it’s not completely clear what the presence
of this strain implies about the disease course. When the body’s T cells drop low enough,
between about 200 and 500 cells / mm3, patients start experiencing symptoms like swollen lymph
nodes, or lymphadenopathy, as well as relatively minor infections like oral hairy leukoplakia,
a hairy-looking white patch on the side of the tongue caused by the same Epstein-Barr
virus that causes mononucleosis, as well as oral candidiasis, a yeast infection in the
mouth. As more T cells are lost, and the level falls below 200 cells / mm3, the immune system
becomes severely compromised and at this stage the condition has progressed from HIV disease
to AIDS. At this point people experience things like persistent fever, fatigue, weight loss,
and diarrhea. And the HIV count in the blood might increase significantly. At this point, certain conditions start to
develop that are said to be “AIDS-defining”, such as recurrent bacterial pneumonia, pneumocystis
pneumonia, and fungal infections like candidiasis of the esophagus. Other conditions include
certain tumors and malignancies like Kaposi sarcoma which causes lesions on the skin and
other soft tissues, and primary lymphoma of the brain. Many people with AIDS die from
infections that a healthy immune system would typically be able to fend off, like pneumocystis,
cytomegalovirus, or mycobacterium avium complex. Male-to-male transmission is the most common
mode of transmission in the US, and male-to-female is the most common mode in resource-limited
settings. Although less common, female-to-male transmissions occur as well since HIV is present
in the vaginal and cervical fluids of infected women. In fact, over 75% of all cases of HIV
are contracted from sexual intercourse. The next most common means of transmission include
things like intravenous drug abuse and mother-to-child transmission, which can be via the placenta
during delivery, or via breast milk. Other, much less common modes of transmission include
accidental needlesticks, and use of blood products like blood transfusions. As far diagnosis goes, there are a few types
of HIV tests that can be done—antibody tests, antibody/antigen tests, and RNA/DNA tests.
Antibody tests look for antibodies that the body’s made against HIV. Antigen tests look
for the virus directly, so antibody/antigen tests detect both antibodies to the virus
as well as the virus itself. RNA tests screen for viral RNA, so they also detect the virus
directly, and DNA tests look for copies of the viral RNA (since remember it’s a retrovirus
so it copies its genetic material into DNA). For screening purposes, the recommended test
is the antibody/antigen test, which is better at identifying early infection. It’s also
recommended, if the first test is positive, to follow it with a confirmatory test that
looks for antibody or nucleic acids. There’s currently no cure for AIDS; treatment
however, can help somebody with AIDS live longer, healthier lives and help reduce the
risk of transmission. The primary method is to use antiretroviral therapy, or ART. ART
isn’t a single medicine, but a combination of medicines that’s known as an HIV regimen.
These help slow down HIV replication, which gives the immune system a chance to recover
and help fight off other infections more effectively.

99 Replies to “HIV & AIDS – signs, symptoms, transmission, causes & pathology”

  1. For sufferers of incurable illnesses I humbly recommend a simple yet powerful spirituality called Nichiren Buddhism whose practice has cured or vastly improved the condition of some patients with such illnesses.thanks

  2. Please stop calling it HIV AIDS. That is like saying a breast cancer patient at stage 1B has the same cancer as someone with 4B staging. It is completely different by prognosis and time line.

  3. I can never be ashamed to testify that I once had this virus HIV because now I am completely negative. I could imagine what some people are currently experiencing now, the symptoms, embarrassing regular medications the stigma. I also went through hell carrying this virus and had to stay indoors all through the times of because I was devastated and never knew how I got infected until I was introduced to traditional liquids from Dr craig herbal home which cures HIV permanently. I got myself dedicated to this medicine and followed every instructions he gave to me along with the diets I was placed on and just like a dream I never knew how this virus left me, I've had two tests the past months and it confirmed that I'm negative. I will advise someone out there to give a try to herbal medicine from nature, you can also try out Dr Craig natural remedies by contacting Dr Craig on [email protected] com

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  4. Greetings to the general public, i want to tell about how i was cured of HIV/AIDS by a Doctor called Abraham Craig I was browsing through the Internet searching for remedy on HIV/AIDS and i saw comment of people talking about how Doctor Abraham Craig cured them. I was scared because i never believed in the Internet but i was convinced to give him a try because i had no hope of been cured of HIV/AIDS so i decided to contact him with his email that was listed on the comment (( [email protected] com)) when i contacted him he gave me hope and sent an Herbal Medicine to me that i took and it seriously worked for me, am a free person now without problem, my HIV/AIDS result came out negative. I pray for you DR Craig God will give you everlasting life, you shall not die before your time for being a sincere and grate man. Am so happy, you can also contact him if you have any problem Email:{[email protected] com)}


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  5. "Recycling cans in Oregon is a conspiracy by a foreign government to spread disease among the population….".
    – The Israeli Mole

  6. Sir…..HIV has 2 copies of single stranded RNA genomes ….but u mentioned only 1 copy of RNA genome in HIV…..Can u pls check it and clarify the thing once?

  7. First, I want to complement this site administrator for creating this platform for us to express our feelings. Herpes is a serious and recurring disease which can't be cured through drugs or injections by the American doctors but the best way to deal with herpes is by taking natural herbs medicine from DR. TOKUBO the greatest herbalist doctor in the world and is only few American doctors that know about this herbal medicine from Dr TOKUBO .. I have read about Dr TOKUBO the great herbalist doctor from African who can cure disease with his powerful herbal medicine. for the people suffering from the following diseases, Herpes,HIV/Aids, Cancer, Also, Hepatitis, Diabetes, Hpv, Infections ETC should contact him for his herbal medicine because i am a living testimony and i was cured of herpes. Although, i sent him what he requested and he sent me his medicine through DHL courier delivery company which i took for 10 days and today when i went for test i was tested herpes negative. you can reach him through his email([email protected])or His whatsapp number:(+2349037990322)He will help you out. May God Bless Dr Tokubo.

  8. Hiv , cancer , kidneys కు natural immuno theraphy ద్వారా నీవా రిన్ఛ బడును…9542058967..నాగేశ్వరరావు

  9. I WAS  CURED FROM HERPES i usually see my outbreak some time 3 weeks or 4 weeks, my friend introduce me to herbal doctor who cure her, well i thought she was joking until i witness it my self, is now 12 months now i saw outbreak so i was thinking i am cured, due to this i went to my doctor for check up if i am still positive or not, he said am herpes negative  is hard to believe this, that i was cure from herpes, i was tested negative after the usage of the herbal medicine. could this be true that i was cured? because i was thinking there was no cure i am so glad about my result today, feeling happy . if you think this is not real you can as well contact him to have a try of the herbal medicine. [email protected]  whatsapp/call +2349036036397

  10. This is a lie there is and was never a std called hiv or aids. It is a retro virus theres never a history of this being tru.

  11. Tcells are nothing but white blood cells or antibodies which are there to help you stay well. This is very misleading.


  13. Its not nice to live with hiv, glad i found someone that helped me, after using his diet treathment not 1 hospital could diagnose hiv infection

  14. Well ART meds in BR used to be one of the best. And was free for public health. Sadly… Let bygones be bygones m8.

  15. I know you will all despise me for this but I have journeyed the world especially Africa & seen what the fear & stress of an HIV antibody positive test result can do to a person , I have seen many drink themselves to death , I also now know of hundreds who took the test & decided not to take ARV’s & just get treated for what condition, disease they were suffering from , many of these people are completely fine , I’m talking well after the ever changing latent period . From what I have learnt the test itself tests for proteins in an antibody antigen response, these proteins are not specific or unique to what they call HIV , it can detect over 80 – 100 different conditions, diseases, pregnancy or toxins present, it’s an activation of the immune system that indicates that there could be health problems, just because the masses believe the hypothesis does not mean that it’s a completely correct theory, it’s highly flawed , please look at these extremely professional people who were top of there careers & have spoken out for many years , Neville Hodgkinson, Joan Shenton, Thabo Mbeki, John Lauritson , David Crowe, Michael Callen, Mark Conlan, Hank Wilson, Peter Deusberg , Kary Mullis, Rodney Richards, Dr Claus Kohnlein, Dr Christian Fiala, Dr David Rasnick, Professor Gordon Stewart, Root Bernstein, Huw Christie, Jad Adams , Dr Manuel Garrido Sotelo & many more , please at least listen to there side of this , we can all learn from each other , nothing is wasted , all knowledge can help us grow even if mistakes have been made , my best wishes to you all 😊💚

  16. I was diagnose April 17 2018and find out I'm HIV positive.I was scared because there is no cure for HIV/AIDS but today some people still don't believe that there is cure for HIV, it can only be cured through Africans root and herbs,and few of the medical doctors know's about the African herbal medicine can cure HIV but they chooses to hide it from us just to make a sales of ARV DRUGS. I did a research online finding way to get rid of my disease,I saw a comment about a herbal doctor on internet whose Name DR Ologunebi who has cured several disease with his powerful herbal medicine, I contacted him on whats-app, chat with him explain my self to him.He said he can cure hiv perfectly well , he gave me his request which i send to him. within 5 days he sent me the herbal medicine through ups courier delivering service And told me how to take the medicine for 18 DAYS to get cured,I did for 18 DAYS, within this 18 DAYS i notice a very big change in my health and i new some thing great has happened then i went to confirm my result it was absolutely Negative.The doctor who new i was HIV positive was asking me how come i am negative, what did it took to get cure and were did i get this medicine from and how did i get rid of it I told him every thing about the herbal medicine that cure me. imagine doctor telling me not to let anyone know about it,I wasn't shock though i knew they know about the herbal cure but chose to hide it in other to make sales on ARV DRUGS,if you are HIV positive please contact my savior on his email ([email protected])
    or WHATSAPP/call him through this number +2348129675448.

  17. HIV cannot cause AIDS, as it is unable to enter the human body through sexual contact, blood transfusion or by any other means.

    The co-discoverer of HIV and Nobel Prize Winner, Luc Antoine Montagnier has clearly established that HIV has never been found in the human body. In the last three decades, there has not been a single research paper to prove that HIV has been detected within the human body.

    Then, why and how doctors diagnose HIV infection? They use the HIV-1 & HIV-2 Diagnostic Kit, which states that it is an HIV antibody diagnostic kit. Antibodies are a kind of protein that is produced by the body on its own, at the time of any infection.

    PCR test is the standard test used worldwide to detect HIV infection. Kary Mullis is the inventor of PCR Test and a Noble Laureate. His invention cannot detect HIV. In fact, it detects HERV (Human Endogenous Retro Virus) which is produced by the human body on its own. During the time of illness, like Tuberculosis, Pneumonia, Diarrhea, certain kind of cancer and even during pregnancy, the body produces HERV. If a PCR test is done at that time, there is chance that one might be tested as HIV positive. The truth is, the HERV vanishes as soon as one recovers from the illness.

  18. Oooh Lord , I don't know how I get it, but deliver me dear Father of nations, heal me God my family 👪 needs me most God😥😥😥😥😥😥😥


  20. I had unprotected rough sex with ex partner who was hiv + and even bled on him and he ejaculated inside me and few weeks after i felt very feverish and had flu like symptoms with swollen lymth glands but i tested negative after 3 months of last exposure but i been told the window period can take upto 6 months is this true and do i really need to test again. My new partner insists i should. Please help and advise.

  21. Give me one more chance God i don't know why i dont learn from my mistake i forget very easily 🙏🙏🙏🙏

  22. Most ppl in entertainment rape & molest children! Them having aids or HIV should cause public outrage!! These people are tormenting children!!! & giving them diseases!!!!

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