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HIV/AIDS

  • By: John Barnshaw
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

AIDS is the acronym for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, an infectious disease of the immune system that if left untreated, results in opportunistic infections and death. AIDS is a clinical diagnosis of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a lentivirus that binds to Cluster Differentiation Four (CD4), a membrane protein of helper thymus (T) cells, which are responsible for coordinating immune responses against antigens in the human body. A healthy individual has approximately 1,200 CD4 helper T cells per microliter of blood; however, upon HIV infection, this count declines and it is not until the CD4 count drops below 200 that an individual is clinically diagnosed with AIDS. CD4 counts below 200 substantially increase the likelihood of opportunistic infections affecting the digestive, integumentary, nervous, and respiratory ...

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