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Thalassemia Major
Chapter 9
Questions about AIDS
What is AIDS?
         The word AIDS means "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome". It is an infectious disease due to a virus. (To be more precise. it is due to a retrovirus: "retro" describes more particular biological characteristics of the virus). The disease first appeared in Africa. The virus grows in lymphocytes, which are one group of the white blood cell that defend your body against infections. Once the lymphocytes have been attacked by the virus, the body is open to some infections that would normally have been fought off by its defences. That is why it is called the "immune deficiency syndrome". The word "acquired" is used to distinguish it from some inherited forms of immune deficiency that are present from birth.

What is the AIDS virus called?
         It was first called HTLV-III or LAV, but now people call it HIV. Which stands for "Human Immunodeficiency Virus".

Does everyone who is infected with HIV go on to get AIDS?
         We cannot be quite sure. At present, there are many cases where the infection has not let to disease.

How can you know if you have been infected with the HIV?
         You can find out through Special blood tests, to see if you have antibodies to the virus.

How is HIV transmitted?
         It can be transmitted by blood transfusion, but ismuch more usually passed on by very intimate physical contact, particularly Sexual contact.

What is the risk of catching HIV from a blood transfusion?
         It is so small that you should not worry about it. Almost everywhere in the world, each blood unit is tested for HIV aids, and any units that seem positive are not used. So the chance of getting infected through a blood transfusion is about one in a million per transfusion. Filtering the blood reduces the risk of infection even further, because the virus lives only in the white cells, and filtering removes them.

What precautions should on HIV carrier take, to avoid infecting other peoplt?
         The precautions are mainly to do with sexual behavior. It is not clear if the virus can be transmitted by very passionate kissingl but it can certainly be transmitted by sexual intercourse. Transmission can be avoided by using a condom.

Should a person infected with HIV take any other precautions?
         Yes they should be sure to have regular medical check-ups.

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