Human immunodeficiency virus, also known as HIV is a blood borne illness that has caused worldwide health concerns. HIV enters the body through blood and body fluids such as semen and in rare cases saliva.
HIV refers to the state of being infected with the retrovirus, meaning they test positive for HIV. Once the HIV virus has infected a person and the disease is active, this is known as AIDS (Acquired Immune deficiency syndrome). HIV/AIDS is an incurable disease, but there are medications available to improve the quality of life.
Since the appearance of the first case in 1981, a rapid and silent spread of the HIV infection has continued. With the increasing availability of medicines to fight against HIV infection, the life expectancy has raised to the great extent. However, the war against HIV still continues and we are far away from the finish line.
Prevalence of HIV
Due to the long window period from the time of exposure to HIV virus versus the time that the patient will test positive for HIV, the actual incidence and prevalence cannot be calculated. However, it is estimated that more than 37 million people globally are infected with HIV. This number includes 3 million children. Approximately 18% of people living with HIV are undiagnosed. If treatment is not initiated early, 95% of patients will progress from HIV to AIDS in 10 years and will die from AIDS in 3 years.
Although this epidemic has spread to all parts of the world, the prevalence rate is higher in low and middle-income countries. The worldwide HIV prevalence is more than 0.8 % of the population and 2.3 new cases every year. That is 4 new cases of HIV every second. In the United States, a reported 50,000 new cases occur yearly.
There are basically two types of HIV virus that can infect human race, HIV-1, and HIV-2. The incidence of each varies by location around the world. HIV-1 is the most common strain, with HIV-1 type 1 found in Europe and the Middle East and HIV-1 type 2 found in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Europe. HIV-2 infection is widely prevalent in the African countries.