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Facts about HIV and AIDS
What is HIV?

HIV is an acronym for:    

H   = HUMAN

 I    = IMMUNO-DEFICIENCY

V   = VIRUS

HIV    is   a   virus that causes AIDS and   infects   only human beings. It   attacks and destroys certain white blood cells that are essential to the body’s immune system. When HIV infects a cell it combines with that cell’s genetic material and may lie inactive for years. 

What is AIDS?

AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection. When the immune system (CD4 cells) drops to a very low level, a person's ability to fight infection is lost. In addition, there are several conditions that occur in people with HIV infection with this degree of immune system failure—these are called AIDS defining illnesses. This is a pattern of devastating infections caused by the immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

Acquired – means that the disease is not hereditary but develops after birth from contact with a disease causing agent, in this case the HIV virus.

Immunodeficiency – this means that the disease is characterized by a weakening of the immune system. The HIV virus weakens the immune system so that a person develops AIDS.

Syndrome – refers to a group of symptoms that together indicate or characterize a disease. In the case of AIDS this can include the development of certain infections and/or cancers, as well as a decrease in the number of immunity cells in a person’s immune system.
Most people infected with HIV are still healthy and can live for years with no symptoms or only minor illnesses. They may be infected with HIV but they do not have AIDS. After a variable period of time the virus becomes activated and then leads progressively to serious infections and other conditions (opportunistic infections - OPIs) that characterize AIDS. Even though there are treatment regimens that can prolong life AIDS is a fatal disease. Research efforts continue to provide answers towards possible vaccines, and ultimately, a cure. For the moment, however HIV prevention remains the only method of control.

How many people have HIV and AIDS

Worldwide: UNAIDS estimates that as of December 2007, there were an estimated 33.2 [30.3 million–36.1 million] million people living with HIV, 2.7 million [2.2 million–3.2 million] people became infected with the virus, and 2 million [1.8 million–2.3 million] people died of HIV-related causes.
Sub-Saharan Africa: the sub-region accounted for 32% of all new infections and AIDS-related deaths globally. In Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe the national adult prevalence exceeded 15% in 2007.
Botswana: the national HIV prevalence is 17.1% as of 2004 BAIS II survey (18 months +) and a 33.4% prevalence among pregnant women (2007 sentinel surveillance). An estimated 330 000 people were living with HIV in 2007 while annual deaths were estimated to be 8 185 (7 397 adults and 788 children). The total number receiving ART was recorded as 100 784 (94 533 adults and 6 251 children) in 2007.

How long does it take for HIV to cause AIDS?

Currently, the average time between HIV infection and the appearance of signs that could lead to an AIDS diagnosis is 8-11 years. This time varies greatly from person to person and can depend on many factors including a person's health status and behaviour. Today there are treatment regimens that can slow down the rate at which HIV weakens the immune system. There are other treatments that can prevent or cure some of the illnesses associated with AIDS. As with other diseases, early detection offers more options for treatment and preventative health care.

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