One of the most feared diseases in the world today is the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV. It can infect everybody, regardless of age, weight, height, or nationality. It is categorized as a pandemic illness because of its ability to quickly spread from one person to another.

There are two types of HIV --- the HIV-1 and the HIV-2. The HIV-1 spreads out faster and is the cause of global infection.

 A person who is infected with HIV will undergo at most 4 stages. They are the following:

  1. First Stage: The first stage is called the incubation period. In this case, no noticeable symptoms are experienced by the patient. It can last between a few days and a few weeks.
  2. Second Stage: An infected person will start showing some symptoms such as rashes, weakening muscles, sore throat, fever, mouth sores, and swelling of the lymph nodes.
  3. Third Stage: This stage is referred to as the latency period. It can last for as long as a few years, but if the patient undergoes antiretroviral treatment, he or she can cut the length down to a few weeks. At this point, the immune system starts to produce antibodies that will attack the virus.
  4. Fourth Stage: This stage is when the patient acquires AIDS. This usually happens when HIV is left undiagnosed and untreated. AIDS patients also undergo antiretroviral treatment.

You may have asked yourself this question before: “How can I get HIV?” Well, the popular belief is that only homosexual men can be affected with the virus, and they are the only carriers of the virus. These are not entirely true. Men and women can get HIV and carry the virus if they have been in sexual contact with another person who is already infected with the virus. Aside from that, pregnant women can also transmit the disease to their babies during the pregnancy period. Sharing of needles and blood transfusion may also enable the virus to travel from one person to another.

According to the World Health Organization, about 0.6% of the world’s population is HIV-positive, and that number continues to become bigger and bigger each day. In the developing countries, the efforts to make people aware of the disease are ongoing. Various researches, studies, and campaigns are done to educate and inform them of the dangers of HIV. At present, the area that has the largest number of HIV infected people is the sub-Sahara in Africa where almost 28 million suffer from the disease, including 3 million children that are below 15 years old.

Prevention of HIV is still better than curing it, so everybody is encouraged to practice safe sex every single time. Use protection when having sexual intercourse, and get you and your partners tested. This way, if one of you gets a positive result, you or they can seek medical help while the infection is still in its early stages.