HIV infection and AIDS (commonly referred to as HIV/AIDS) are caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV is transmitted sexually and through exchange of body fluids, such as blood. The HIV attacks our defense system (immune system) giving opportunity to many illnesses to attack the body. These infections (called opportunistic infections) range from common cold and diarrhea to life-threatening illnesses including uncommon pneumonias and cancers. The type, range and intensity of opportunistic infections vary with the severity of the HIV infection and the extent to which our immunity is compromised.
AIDS is the last stage disorder of the HIV infection. Though there is no complete cure for the HIV-infection till date - despite thousands of scientists across the world working on it, spending countless hours of research involving billions of dollars - there has been tremendous progress in medicare improving the quality of life of the HIV-infected, in extending their life-span to almost normal levels and in preventing mother-child transmission.
The key factors in extending the life-span, and in keeping good immunity and good health are
The last one involves maintaining good personal hygiene, avoiding smoking (active as well as passive), alcohol, recreational drugs, unhygienic and disease-prone environments and sedentary life style. Those who follow these will guidelines certainly have better prognoses.
A nutritious diet is of utmost importance to the HIV-infected, as adequate nutrition contributes to the development of the immune system, prevents malnutrition and wasting, achieves and maintains optimal body weight and strength, enhances the body’s ability to fight opportunistic infections, helps delay the progression of HIV, improves the effectiveness of drug treatments, and improves the quality of life.