AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, which is a medical condition where a person’s immune system is too weak to fight off infection. Since AIDS was first identified in the early 1980s, an unprecedented number of 33.3 million (est.) people are living with HIV and AIDS worldwide today.
AIDS is caused by HIV, a virus that gradually attacks your immune system cells. Subsequently, the body is weakened and becomes more susceptible to infections which it struggles to fight off. HIV has to be very advanced before it is diagnosed as AIDS. If HIV is untreated, it can take a person around 10 years to develop AIDS. As of yet, there are no cures for AIDS. You can avoid being infected with HIV, and you can take antiretroviral drugs, which prevents or delays the onset of AIDS.
You are diagnosed with AIDS when you develop an opportunistic infection (an AIDS related condition or symptom) or AIDS related cancer. You can also be diagnosed when your number of immune system cells (CD4 cells) drops below a certain level.
HIV and AIDS patients suffer a lot of pain throughout their whole body, and may experience two or more different types of pain at the same time. This is a result of HIV infection and immunosuppression itself, HIV-related opportunistic infections and HIV-related cancers, antiretroviral treatment, and related symptoms such as nutritional deficiencies. Due to lack of treatment in countries with little to no access to pain relief for moderate to severe pain, an estimated 1 million late stage HIV patients suffer from pain. Pain is severely under treated in 150 countries, or 80% of the world’s population. As stated by WHO…
“In 2007, six developed countries reported the highest level of morphine consumption and 132 of 160 signatory countries that reported consumption were below the global mean. This implies that millions of patients with moderate to severe pain caused by different diseases and conditions are not getting treatment to alleviate their suffering.”
This may be due to patients being reluctant to report pain, and/or to take pain relief due to a misconception of opiods, partly due to the side effects, the way they are perceived by others for taking opiods and the misconception that they are used by doctors to hasten death.
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