AIDS / HIV
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
- Infections which are spread mainly through sexual
- Affect the reproductive tracts in the male, as well
as the female, and could also affect the eyes, mouth,
rectum and urinary tract.
- Could cause pain, disfigurement, miscarriage in
pregnant women, still births, premature births, sterility,
- Main ones: Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, Lymphogranuloma
- Signs and symptoms: Genital ulcers or sores, discharge
from vagina or penis, burning sensation while urinating,
pain during intercourse. Signs usually not visible
in women because their reproductive organs are internal.
- Treatment only by a properly trained and qualified
doctor. Treatment course should be completed.
- Disappearance of the symptoms means the disease
is cured. Example of Syphilis.
- Sex with a virgin will cure STDs.
AIDS stands for Acquired
- Acquired - something that you get from others.
- Immune - the system that defends your body from
- Deficiency - the immune system becomes weakened
by the virus.
- Syndrome - the body shows a variety of symptoms.
- AIDS isn't a disease in itself.
We need to know about AIDS because:
- AIDS can affect anyone, Male, Female, Adult or Child.
No one is immune.
- The virus that causes AIDS can be transmitted without
a person's knowledge.
- The condition is fatal and has no cure yet.
- Ignorance causes fear, anxiety and prejudice.
AIDS is caused by a virus called the Human
(HIV). As the name
suggests it affects only human beings. HIV belongs to
a class of viruses called retroviruses which have genes
composed of Ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules. The genes
of humans and most other organisms are made of a related
molecule Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). It has a diameter
of 1/10,000 of a millimeter and is spherical in shape.
Scope of the epidemic
Although HIV was first identified in 1983, studies
of previously stored blood samples indicate that the
virus entered the US population sometime in the late
1970s. An estimated 36 million people are infected worldwide.
Through 1997, cumulative HIV/AIDS associated deaths
worldwide numbered about 11.7 million - 9 million adults
and 2.7 million children. Every hour 100 people in Mumbai
become HIV positive. 3.5 million people in India are
HIV positive. 50% of those infected are under 24 years
of age. Every day around 16,000 people get infected
with HIV. 3 million people died in the year 2000. Totally
from the year 1981 to 2000, 22 million people have died
HIV is found in large concentrations in blood, semen,
vaginal and cervical secretions of an infected person.
Hence, any activity that involves an exchange of these
body fluids between the HIV infected person and one
who is not, is likely to transmit the virus.
HIV can spread only:
Through sexual contact
Through the use of contaminated needles.
By direct transfusion of HIV infected blood.
From an HIV positive mother to her baby, during pregnancy
It must be noted that, HIV is not transmitted by sharing
belongings (except toothbrushes and razors), toilet
seat or through mosquito/insect bites because the virus
does not survive outside the human body. Secondly, it
cannot be transmitted through mosquito bites because
the mosquito draws (not injects) blood from the human
body. Also, the Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus cannot
make a duplicate of itself inside the body of the mosquito
as does the malaria parasite. It is neither transmitted
by touching, hugging, kissing, body contact in crowded
places, playing and working together, shaking hands
or by caring for someone with AIDS. Scientists have
found no evidence that HIV is spread through sweat,
tears, urine or faeces. Although researchers have detected
HIV in the saliva of infected individuals, no evidence
exists that the virus is spread by contact with saliva.
On entry into the human body, HIV attaches itself to
and gradually destroys certain white blood corpuscles
which are an important part of the body's defense against
disease germs. The body is then vulnerable to infections
that it would otherwise, be able to resist (e.g. Herpes
Zoster, Pneumocystis Carinii Pneumonia). These are aptly
called 'opportunistic infections' since they take the
opportunity of a weakened immune system to attack the
body. Ultimately these disease take their toll on the
person in the form of death. Therefore, technically
speaking, the individual does not die of AIDS but of
other opportunistic infections. The term AIDS applies
to the most advanced stages of HIV infections.
How long it takes for an infected person to
develop AIDS ?
It depends on how the person acquired the infection.
The person who is infected through a blood transfusion
is likely to develop an opportunistic infection sooner
than a person who has acquired the infection through
sexual intercourse since the concentration of HIV is
higher in blood than in the semen or vaginal fluid.
(However, it must be pointed out that more than two-thirds
of HIV infection in the world today is caused by sexual
transmission). During any form of sexual contact with
an HIV infected person, the virus can enter the blood
stream, be it through the vagina, penis, anus or mouth.
Some forms of sexual contact that tear the skin and
draw blood are described as High Risk Practices.
The person's life style. An infected person who is
particular about consuming good food and building good
habits (like adequate rest and exercise among other
things) will be more likely to delay developing opportunistic
illnesses than one who is not.
Among patients enrolled in large epidemiologic studies
in western countries, the median time from infection
with HIV to the development of AIDS related symptoms
has been about 10 to 12 years. About 10 percent of HIV
infected people in these studies have progressed to
AIDS within the first 2 to 3 years following infection,
while upto 5 percent of individuals in the studies have
no symptoms even after 12 or more years.
It is not possible to recognise persons who are infected
by just looking at them. The "signs and symptoms"
such as flu-like fever, diarrhea and weight loss are
so common that they can be caused by any other condition.
The only way to know for sure is to undergo an HIV test
such as ELISA or WESTERN BLOT. These, check the blood
for antibodies to HIV, the presence of which indicate
that the person is infected. The test must always be
accompanied by counselling.
Here, one must always remember that the person who
tests positive is infected with the virus and can infect
others, but is not yet ill. Rather such a person can,
and should be encouraged to, be a productive member
of society. Such individuals need our compassion rather
than censure. Blaming groups like commercial sex workers
("Prostitutes") or gays ("Homosexuals")
is not only counterproductive, as they will only go
underground and refuse to be tested, but also contributes
to a false sense of security by blinding us to the fact
that we could be infected in other ways.
Drugs like AZT, 3TC, d4T, and ddC may slow
down the spread of HIV in the body and delay the onset
of opportunistic infections. Importantly, they do not
prevent transmission of HIV to other individuals. More
recently, drugs called protease inhibitors, which interrupt
virus duplication at a later step in its life cycle,
are used. A number of drugs are available to help treat
opportunistic infections to which people with HIV are
especially prone. Just two doses of an inexpensive HIV
drug called Nevirapine can prevent mothers from infecting
their babies with the virus at birth, state researchers.
The risk of HIV transmission from a pregnant woman
to her fetus is significantly reduced if she takes AZT
during pregnancy, labor and delivery and if her baby
takes it for the first six weeks of life. As there is
no cure, we can only concentrate on prevention. While
condoms are often touted as the only means of protection,
it is not widely known that they are not completely
fool-proof. Condoms can break, tear or leak. Rather
more important in terms of health, as well as, values
are behavioral measures or chastity. This involves saving
sex for marriage, avoiding intimate sexual contact before
marriage and being faithful to one's spouse after marriage.
This makes for both, a healthy, as well as a happy life.
Sexual perversions are acts aimed to obtain sexual
gratification without normal sexual intercourse. These
acts are self centered, immoral and have consequences.
The following are some of the sexual perversions.
1. HOMOSEXUALITY OR SODOMY
When there is sexual connection between the
members of the same sex it is termed as homosexuality.
Where there is sexual connection between two male members
then it is homosexual sodomy and unnatural connections
between a man and woman is hetero-sexual sodomy. When
the sexual desires of a woman are gratified by another
woman then it is called lesbianism or female homosexuality.
Masturbation in males or females is the achievement
of sexual response by self stimulation. It causes an
unbalanced concept of sexuality that can influence against
future sexual health within the concept of marriage.
Bestiality means sexual intercourse by a human
being with a lower animal, either through the anus or
The acts of men whose sexual desire consists
principally of the exhibition of the genitals with or
without performance of the masturbatory acts, in the
presence of women and young girls. Occasionally, women
too may expose themselves in public.
This perversion may be practiced by either
sex, but is more common in males. In order to satisfy
the sexual desires, the sadist bites, flogs, injures
the partner. Multiple injuries are inflicted on many
body areas, but breasts and external genitalia are commonly
This is the reverse of sadism. Victims of this
perversion obtain sexual enjoyment and satisfaction
only when they receive a painful stimulus from their
This is a compulsion to rub the genitalia against
the other person, usually in lifts or crowds.
This is a type of sexual perversion in which
sexual gratification is associated with contact and
sight of certain parts of the female body, or even clothing
or other articles known as fetish objects.
In voyeurism, the desire to observe the genitals
of others or to watch sexual intercourse becomes the
condition of erotic excitement and gratification.
Watching films of sexual acts (blue films),
photos and reading such literature and deriving sexual
This is the act of sexual intercourse between
men and women within a certain degree of blood relationship.
For example, father and daughter, mother and son, brother
An erotic/sexual attraction to corpses.
Forcible or fraudulent sexual intercourse especially
imposed on women.