HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system. Many people are living with HIV and it can't be cured although, treatment is available. The virus can still be transmitted from one person to another.
Statistics show that 670,000 Americans know they are infected with HIV, and an additional 180,000 to 280,000 have the virus but don't know it. About half of the Americans infected with HIV do not receive the drugs that are important to improving their lives. A national study in 1996 found that of those who knew they were infected, about half were receiving treatment. Whereas currently two-thirds of those who know they're infected are receiving the treatment they need. The number of infected Americans who are living with the HIV virus has increased by about 50,000 in the last two years.
The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get a blood test. It can take anywhere from six weeks to three years to test positive. HIV can be diagnosed based on several factors, the functioning ability of the immune system, T-cell count test, the presences of HIV antibodies, and the presences of one or more opportunistic infections. You can get tested at your doctor's office, public health clinics, or a home test kit can be purchased at your local drug store. Testing positive for HIV does not mean having AIDS. Many people who are infected with HIV do not even acquire the immune deficiency syndrome.
Whenever foreign substances or agents enter our body, the immune system is activated. The immune system and its cells respond to attacks from outside the body, which defends us from infection. HIV is the virus that attacks the specific immune system so the body can no longer defend itself against infectious agents. Over time the immune cells stop functioning and there is a great loss to our immunity to viruses. This loss allows other infectious agents the ability to attack the body, such as the Common Cold, Flu,...