Introduction to HIV/AIDS



HIV and AIDS outline (Foreword):

HIV and AIDs is the most threatening disease which everyone on this planet earth is scared to contact the virus, simply because there is no medication found to cure the virus yet. The disease leaves most of the children without parents and some instances with single parents. An unfortunate part about the disease is that some of the health workers don’t have choice to when it comes to which patients they can treat, e.g. Hospital workers and Emergency Service workers.

The aim of these projects set as and educational (awareness) tool, identify methods of counselling and support services in the emergency medical service environment.

Glossary of terms


Stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome which means the body loses its ability to fight infections; HIV weakens the immune system

Anal intercourse -Penetration of the anus of a man or female


A specific protein made by a person’s white blood cells to fight a disease; for example, antibodies are produced against the different kinds of colds, flu and HIV.


Opening at back of body through which waste matter is


drug that attacks the HIV/AIDS virus and slows down the disease. Blood transfusion receiving blood after a major accident or certain operations.

Carrier –

Someone who is infected with HIV/AIDS.


A contraceptive usually made of thin latex rubber and worn on an erect penis; condoms greatly reduce the chances of both males and females catching sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS


Information that must not be told to others.


Talking to someone about their concerns and helping them deal with their problems; pre-test counselling involves talking to someone and explaining the consequences if the result is positive.


– Someone who listens to your problems and gives you advice.


Means people you work with.


Upset (runny) stomach


Pus or moisture that oozes from an infected area.


Treating people unfairly or differently from yourself based on prejudice.

Donating blood-

Giving blood to be used in medical emergencies.


– A

disease that spreads fast from one person to another person.

Expiry date-

Date limited for something to be used for certain period.

False negative-

Is a blood test for HIV that does not clearly show the presence of HIV in a particular person with HIV; this may happen if the test is done before the person has developed antibodies that will show up in a test.

False positive-

A blood test for HIV that shows the presence of HIV in a person who does not have HIV; this happens when the test finds antibodies to another organism.

Female condom

– A contraceptive usually made of thin latex rubber and worn inside the vagina; to reduce the chances of both males and females catching sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.


Tiny, living things that may bring illness.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

HIV positive

-A person whose tests have shown that s/he is infected with HIV.

HIV negative-

HIV antibodies not detected in blood.

HIV test-

A blood test, which detects antibodies to HIV. The test determines whether a person has HIV. Usually two tests need to be done to determine whether or not the person has the virus.


Someone attracted sexually to people of the same sex.

Immune deficiency-A condition where the body’s defence system is weakened.

Immune system-

A defensive mechanism that fight against the viruses attacking the human body .


study Knowledge, Attitudes and

Practices Study used to determine the HIV and STI risk of a company

Masturbate- To sexually stimulate oneself by touching one’s private parts.


When the penis enters the vagina or anus.


Male reproductive organ.


Stop something from happening.


The commercial name for AZT, a drug that slows down the HI virus.

Safe sex- Ways of having sexual activity that reduce the chance of catching or transmitting sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS.

Semen-The fluid that spurts from the penis when a man ejaculates.

Sperm- Reproductive fluid of males

STI- Sexually transmitted infection; a disease or infection that is passed from one person to another during sexual intercourse; for example, gonorrhoea, syphilis and HIV.

Support group

– Group of people who offer understanding and counselling for specific problems.

Traditional healers- People, without a formal medical qualification, who issue natural medicines.


Tuberculosis – a disease that usually affects the lungs and is passed on by coughing.

Unprotected sex-

Also called unsafe sex; sexual intercourse where an exchange of body fluids takes place with no barrier such as a condom; can transmit an STI including HIV/AIDS between partners.


Female reproductive organ.

Vaginal lubrication-

Vaginal fluids


– Voluntary Counselling and Testing.


A tiny organism or germs that can cause disease in humans, such as measles, colds, flu, polio and chickenpox are caused by different kinds of viruses.

Window period-

The time that passes between when a person is infected with the HI V, and when signs (antibodies) of the virus are found in his/her body; usually 3 to 12 weeks; the HIV antibody test may be negative although the person has HIV.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that causes disease. The virus is passed from one person to another through blood, breast milk and/or vaginal fluids or semen. Once a person is infected with the virus, they are HIV positive. The HI Virus is miniscule, but its impact on the body is substantial. HIV attacks a particular set of cells in the human immune system known as CD4 cells. It attacks a person’s immune system, making it less capable of fighting infection. As the immune system weakens, the infected person may experience flu-like symptoms such as a cough, diarrhoea and skin sores (A Guide to HIV/AIDS in the Workplace, 2005:10).

AIDS is an acronym for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. A person is considered having AIDS when his/her CD4 count is less than 200. At this stage, diseases like TB, brain infections, skin diseases and pneumonia are common and often cause death. The average period from HIV infection to developing AIDS is, in the absence of treatment, approximately 8 to 10 years (A Guide to HIV/AIDS in the Workplace, 2005:10

HIV and AIS is briefly explained as: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the virus that leads to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). People do not get AIDS as soon as they are infected with the HI Virus. HIV is not AIDS. The HI Virus cause AIDS (A Guide to HIV/AIDS in the Workplace, 2005: 10).


HIV/AIDS virus was first discovered in central Africa in the Republic of Congo in the year of 1959.It was said that this virus was found in the men who were hunting monkeys so that they can be able to eat. It is a theory that these hunters that ate monkeys might have been exposed to the virus that infected them; this virus does not cause immunosuppression among monkeys.

The origin of HIV-1

There are two types of HIV, which are HIV1 and HIV 2

HIV-1 virus is the cause of AIDS worldwide, in 1986, a second type of HIV called HIV-2 is less transmittable and is largely smaller to West Africa this is a virus of the sooty mangabeys (Gao F; (1999).In 1999 a group of researchers has found that SIVcpz (simian immunodeficiency virus) is almost identical to HIV-1 (Gao F; 1999). This SIV come from a captive frozen sample collected from a wild chimpanzees and this confirmed that they were a reservoir of SIVcpz (Keele W; 2006).

There are four stages of HIV/AIDS according to,

A Guide to HIV/AIDS in the Workplace (2005:12)


Stage 1: Infected

The period following the initial HIV infection is called the

window period

. This is the period between infection with the virus and when HIV antibodies develop in the bloodstream. At this stage there is no way of detecting HIV infection in the body.

Stage 2: HIV well

For many years, people with HIV may look and feel well although the person with HIV is experiencing no symptoms, the virus is still changing shape inside the body and weakening the immune system. This stage can last anything from three to twelve years. The average time is six years.

Stage 3: HIV ill

HIV slowly weakens the immune system. Between five and eight years after infection, people start getting sick. They usually begin to lose weight and their bodies become weak.

The early signs of HIV are:

• Weight loss

• Swelling in the neck, behind the ear, under the arm and in the groin

• Sores on the mouth or genitals which do not heal

• A white rash inside the mouth or on the genitals

• Signs of TB – coughing, sweating and losing weight

• Painful sores or rashes

• Fevers and sweating at night

• Diarrhoea that does not stop

Stage 4: AIDS

After this period, severe immune cell loss leads to the symptomatic period, in which the body experiences the symptoms associate with AIDS. This is the final stage and is referred to as AIDS sickness. On average it takes a person 18 months between getting very ill with AIDS and dying.

Later signs of AIDS are:

• TB and pneumonia

• Thrush (a fungal infection of the mouth or vagina)

• Re-occurring shingles and skin rashes and lesions

• Various cancers

• Meningitis

• Weight loss of more than 10%


Everybody has an immune system that is made up of specialized cells designed to recognise any foreign cells that enters the body that causes illness some of this cells could be bacteria which can cause a sore throat or virus which can cause cold (Hughes M.D, Johnson V.A, Hirsch M.S, 1997; pg. 277). When the foreign cell enters your body your immune system will respond in three simple. Step1: they will recognize that there’s a foreign cell in the body. Step 2: they will send the message to the immune cell to destroy the foreign cell. Step 3: they will take a point of remembering a foreign cell set up the memory system that will sabotage them and nobody will be able to react more quickly against them



Viral load is a term used to describe the amount of HIV in the blood. The more HIV in your blood the faster your CD4 cells are likely to disappear and the greater your risk of developing symptoms of further illness with the next few years. The viral load tests estimate the number of HIV particles in a sample of blood. They do this by looking for HIV genes which are named HIV RNA. The result of a viral load test is described as the number of copies of HIV RNA per millilitre (National AIDS manual; 2002).


CD4 count or T- Helper cells are white blood cells which organise the immune system respond to some microorganisms including bacteria fungal infections and viruses. The CD4 count is the measurement of the number of CD4 cells in a cubic millimetre of blood. This is sometimes written as CD4 cells/mm3. The Cd4 count of a person who is not infected with HIV may lie anywhere between 500 and 1200. HIV can infect Cd4 cells and use them to produce more HIV copies. Even while a person with HIV feels well has no symptoms millions of CD4 T-cells are infected by HIV are destroyed each day and millions more CD4 T-cells are produced replaced them.CD4 count can go up and down in response to infection, stress, smoking, exercise, menstrual cycle and contraceptive pill (National AIDS manual; 2002).

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Irinoye (1991: 181) define counselling as “to advise, to recommend, to advocate, to exhort, to suggest, to urge.

Irinoye (1991: 182) references the World Health Organization by stating that, “AIDS is a confidential dialogue between a patient and the counsellor or care provider aimed at enabling the patient to cope with the stress and to take personal decisions relating to HIV infection and AIDS morbidity and mortality”.

The aim of counselling infected patient is to exchange information, showing skill acquisition and emotional support between the counsellor, the person infected with HIV and others significant to the client who include family members, friends, health practitioners, employers and people who give spiritual support.

Support Services

People with AIDS need special support and treatment. There is a need for them to regularly go to hospital. People with AIDS usually suffer from serious illnesses such as TB, pneumonia or certain types of cancer. They become very ill with these diseases and they eventually die (A Guide to HIV/AIDS in the Workplace, 2005: 10).

HIV/AIDS can be fought through awareness, prevention and proper treatment of persons living with the disease.

HIV is spread through the following methods:

  • Unprotected Sex
  • Coming into contact with infected blood or body fluid (e.g. semen, vaginal fluids and linings of genital areas, blood transfusions)
  • Mother to child

(A Guide to HIV/AIDS in the Workplace, 2005:

By identify the most common way to spread HIV, it enables an individual to be always alert when faced with similar conditions.

The government has set a financial support to all infected patients, to illuminate poverty and to boost their immune system by eating a healthy diet.

Government has set the legal documents which protect the employee’s rights to confidentiality, and this has proven to save jobs of most employees.


A Guide to HIV/AIDS in the Workplace. 2005.



Irinoye, O. 1999 Counselling People affected by HIV and AIDS.

The Contiming African HIV/AIDS Epidemic.


Gao, F. et al (1999) origin of HIV-1 in the chimpanzee for troglodytes. Nature 397:436-441

Keele,B.F. et at. (2006) human immunodeficiency viruses: siv infection in wild gorillas, Nature 444:164

Hughes M.D, Johnson V.A, Hirsch M.S. Monitoring plasma HIV-1 RNA levels in addition to CD4+ lymphocyte count improves as- sessment of antiretroviral therapeutic response.


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