HIV or the human immunodeficiency virus is a retroviral agent that causes the immune system of the body to weaken and lead to cause the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). It is now treatable. Research is being conducted all over the world to formulate a targeted drug therapy for combating this life-threatening disease. No vaccine is available, which renders the world population highly susceptible to contract the infection.
HIV infection spreads from an infected person through contact with certain bodily fluids like blood and semen. Spread from one human being to another is called as transmission of HIV. Mother to child transmission, i.e. perinatal transmission is also common. Healthcare and hospital staff are at a great risk of occupational transmission. Other causes of transmission include sharing intravenous drug equipment, needle prick injury, organ transplantation and artificial insemination. Since vaccination and targeted drug therapy for remission are not available, prevention strategies play an important role in curbing the spread of infection.
A three-level prevention strategy is implemented for HIV infection.
The risk avoidance approach for transmission of HIV infection includes certain measures like practicing mutual monogamy & delayed sexual activity in the young population. Safe and appropriate use of syringes and needles is advised. Unnecessary blood transfusions should be completely avoided. Routine screening of HIV antibody should be done.
Risk reduction approach propagates the mandatory use of condoms during sexual intercourse. Sexually transmitted diseases should be treated to avoid the risk of transmitting infection. Sterile syringes should be used. If blood transfusion is necessary, then blood transfused should be evaluated well to meet the quality standards.
Prevention of transmission of HIV from mothers to children involves anti-retroviral drug therapy during pregnancy and post birth in the newborn child. Breastfeeding is avoided and bottle feeding is advised.