Although there have been significant medical advances in medical research over the past decade, HIV/AIDS statistics continue to remain high. The numbers of sexually active teens and young adults are 13 percent of the total infected, according to statistical reports.
With increased knowledge about HIV/AIDS and other STDs, the numbers of infected teens and adults may continue to decrease. This article explains the basics of the most harmful sexually transmitted disease and the statistical information surrounding HIV/AIDS.
What is HIV?
- HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus
- HIV works by attacking the human immune system, which usually successfully operates by keeping the body free from infection by attacking viruses that cause internal damage. However, HIV attacks the immune system preventing it from doing its job correctly. The compromised immune system is what leads the body to develop AIDS, which can be extremely harmful and deadly.
What is AIDS?
- AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
- AIDS can develop about 10 years after the person contracts an HIV infection. It takes about that long for the HIV to kill the healing cells produced by the immune system. Once the immune system can no longer fight off the infection, AIDS develops in the body.
- A person with an already weak immune system from malnourishment or other illness can develop AIDS faster however.
How can HIV be passed from person to person?
- Unprotected sexual intercourse with infected partner
- Contact with an infected person’s blood
- Drugs used via injection. If the needle has been used by an infected person, HIV can be transferred.
- Mother to baby. An infected mother can pass HIV to her baby during pregnancy, delivery and through breast feeding.
- The first sign of AIDS development from HIV is when the infected person develops an AIDS-related condition. This is often referred to as an “opportunistic infection” and results in an AIDS-related cancer, which can be fatal. It is called “opportunistic” because the infection takes the opportunity of a severely weekend immune system and it attacks the body.
- However, it is still possible for a person to be diagnosed with AIDS even if they have yet to develop an opportunistic infection. In cases where an HIV-infected person’s immune systems cells (CD4 cells) drops below a certain level, they are considered to have AIDS.
- In the first few weeks after contracting HIV, you may experience flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and rash. However, after you have had the infection for a few years, the symptoms may worsen to include diarrhea, weight loss, fever, cough and swollen lymph nodes.
- If treatment for HIV is not sought or available in time, the infection will spread to AIDS, which will include even more severe symptoms like soaking night sweats, shaking, chills, fever, chronic diarrhea, unusual lesions on the tongue or mouth, headache, chronic fatigue, distorted vision, severe weight loss and skin rashes.
Who has HIV/AIDS?
- While everyone who is sexually active encounters the risk at being exposed to HIV or AIDS, there are some who have a higher risk based on age, ethnicity, sexual preference and social economic status.
Age and gender:
- Young adults and sexually active teens are more likely to become exposed to HIV because they are worried about their parents finding out they are sexually active and do not want to get tested. Teens also may not be given the necessary education to learn about HIV and the risks of having unprotected sex.
- HIV/AIDS statistics reveal that young adults and teens aged 13 to 24 years old make up 13 percent of the total HIV/AIDS infected population.
- There are about 4,000 new cases of HIV or AIDS each year among the 13 to 24 year old age group.
- In total, there are about 42,000 new cases of HIV infection each year followed by 38,000 new cases of AIDS development from HIV.
- Out of these reported cases, 62 percent are male and 38 are female. These numbers are also similar representations of the infected adolescent and young adult age group.
- Of the total infected with HIV or AIDS, it has been reported in various HIV/AIDS statistics websites that nearly half of all cases are attributed to those of African American origin.
- About 55 percent of teens and young adults aged from 13 to 24 are African American.
- White individuals make up the next largest race infected with about 32 percent followed by Native Americans with about 20 percent.
- Men who have sex with other men (MSM) (including all races) continues to be the largest number of all people affected by HIV.
- MSM is the only risk group that continues to increase in the number of infected each year.
- MSM make up half of the number infected with HIV, about 53 percent.
Social economic status:
- Those who live in countries and areas with underdeveloped health care or in parts of the United States flooded with poverty are more likely to contract HIV.
- These risk groups are also more likely to allow the HIV infection to develop into AIDS because they do not have access to treatment options to prevent the deterioration of the immune system, according to HIV/AIDS statistics released by the Center for Disease Control.
- Although the numbers are declining, the number of AIDS-related deaths was about 1.8 million just in 2009.
- Over 25 million people have died as a result of AIDS since the first cases of the infection were documented in 1981.
- There is still no cure for HIV or AIDS. However, there is now a popular type of treatment that can help prevent symptoms and the illness from progressing for many years.
- This type of medication is call an antiretroviral. It is a treatment that consists of a series of drugs that must be taken every day for the rest of the infected person’s life.
- Practice abstinence from sexual contact where there is the transference of semen.
- Practice caution around an infected person’s blood.
- Only have sex in a monogamous relationship where you are certain your partner is not infected.
- It is important for sexually active teens to remember that if you are going to have sex, make sure and correctly use a latex condom each and every time you have sex
Sources: cdc.gov, Avert.org, mayoclinic.com