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acquired immune deficiency syndrome
Definitionspread through semen and blood, and caused by an infection with the virus human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1 or HIV-2), which attacks T-helper cells (T 4/CD4), gradually weakening the immune system's ability to ward off opportunistic infections and diseases (including Kaposi's sarcoma, invasive cervical cancer, pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, tuberculosis and wasting syndrome) resulting in premature death brought about by these secondary infections. Approximately 60% of AIDS death are caused by the lung infection pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. Other important infections associated with AIDS are tuberculosis, cryptococcosis, Candidiasis, Toxoplasmosis, Herpes zoster, and Cryptosporidosis. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention lists numerous opportunistic infections and neoplasms which, in the presence of HIV infection, constitute an AIDS diagnosis. In addition, a CD4 count below 200/mm3 in the presence of HIV infection constitutes an AIDS diagnosis. First recognized in 1979 in the United States but present for many years in Africa, AIDS is currently the most serious sexually transmitted disease; there is no cure or vaccine. The HIV virus can be transmitted through the exchange of certain infected body fluids: blood, semen, urine, mother's milk, and feces. Specifically, HIV is transmitted by sexual contact with a person who has the virus, by transfusion with infected blood or blood products, through the sharing of contaminated needles during intravenous drug use, when the virus passes from infected semen into the rectal lining, which often tears during anal intercourse, through unprotected vaginal sex, especially during menstruation, through transfusions with contaminated blood, and, to the fetus, during pregnancy or through breast-feeding. Remember, AIDS can be prevented! Condoms are the most practical safeguard against sexually transmitted infections and their use reduces the chances of getting AIDS. Acronym: AIDS. Synonym: acquired immunodeficiency syndrome
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