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Nowadays, more and more people are living with HIV and it became a serious epidemic in Viet Nam. The disease is spreading fast from its core population of intravenous drug users, and one of the chief barriers to prevention and treatment is the stigma that makes outcasts of those who carry the virus.
A report show that one third of all people in Viet Nam living with HIV. Some municipalities and villages report HIV prevalence over 10 times higher than the national average, especially in areas that are mountainous, remote and inhabited by ethnic minorities, where people still have limited knowledge and services do not yet adequately address needs. In Viet Nam the epidemic remains concentrated in so-called key population groups: people who inject drugs (PWID, 22% in 2013), men who have sex with men (2.4%) and female sex workers (5.3%). The proportion of women living with HIV has been steadily increasing over the years. Most of the people reported to be living with HIV in 2013 (79%) were between 20 and 39 years old (UNAIDS HIV/AIDS estimates in 2013)
Most people infected with HIV experience a short, flu-like illness that occurs 2-6 weeks after infection. The symptoms of HIV vary depending on the stage of infection. Though people living with HIV tend to be most infectious in the first few months, many are unaware of their status until later stages. The first few weeks after initial infection, individuals may experience no symptoms or an influenza-like illness including fever, headache, rash, or sore throat. After this, HIV may not cause any symptoms for several years. A During this time, the virus continues to be active and causes progressive damage to people immune systems. The infection progressively weakens the immune system, an individual can develop other signs and symptoms, such as swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, diarrhoea and cough. Without treatment, they could also develop severe illnesses such as tuberculosis, cryptococcal meningitis, severe bacterial infections and cancers.
There are three main stages of HIV infection. The first is Acute HIV infection that is the earliest stage of HIV infection, and it generally develops within 2 to 4 weeks after a person is infected with HIV. During this time, some people have flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, and rash. In the acute stage of infection, HIV multiplies rapidly and spreads throughout the body. However, some people also develop opportunistic infection at this stage. Due to their nonspecific character, these symptoms are not often recognized as one of HIV infection. But During the acute HIV infection stage, the level of HIV in the blood is very high, which greatly increases the risk of HIV transmission.
The second stage is Chronic HIV Infection. During this stage of the disease, HIV continues to multiply in the body but at very low levels. People with chronic HIV infection may not have any HIV-related symptoms, but they can still spread HIV to others. Scientists told that without treatment with HIV medicines, chronic HIV infection usually advances to AIDS in 10 years or longer, though it may take less time for some people.
The last stage is AIDS that is the most severe stage of HIV infection. Because HIV has severely damaged the immune system, the body can’t fight off opportunistic infections People with HIV are diagnosed with AIDS if they have a CD4 count of less than 200 cells/mm3 or if they have certain opportunistic infections (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). In the absence of specific treatment, around half of people infected with HIV develop AIDS within ten years. Opportunistic infections may be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that are normally controlled by the immune system. Which infections occur depends partly on what organisms are common in person’s environment these infections may affect nearly every organ system.
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