How HIV  affects the body Essay - Essay Prowess

 How HIV  affects the body Essay


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How HIV  affects the body


HIV is a virus which attacks and destroys white blood cells referred to as macrophages and T-helper cells. T-helper cells are known to target and destroy germs such as bacteria and virus when they infect the body. Without T-helper cells the body is denied the opportunity to fight off infections as the other immunity system cell such as the B-cells which produce antibodies cannot effectively work without the T-helper cells (Page, Louw, Deelene, and Jacobs, 2006, p78). One can be infected with the HIV virus and continue to live normally for a long time before symptoms begin to appear. Symptoms appear after the immune systems T-helper cells have reached very low levels and opportunistic infections begin taking a toll on the host’s body. At this point AIDS symptoms begin to manifest itself in the infected person’s body. This paper seeks to discuss how the HIV virus infects the body.

Effects of HIV on the body

What the HIV virus does is to destroy the immune system such that CD4 proteins which initiate responses towards defending the body when it is infected with disease causing microorganisms. The CD4 protein is tasked with the transmission of signals among different types of immune system cells (Baum and Contrada, 2011 p214). When the HIV virus gets to the CD4 protein, it binds itself to the outer sugary protein on the virus. The virus does not kill the immune system’s cells immediately but rather multiplies while within the host cell (Jordan-Belver, 1996, p115). Not until the point where they have multiplied fully do they explode from the cell destroying it completely.

HIV is known to progress differently in different people. The development of the disease can be determined through some specific infections as well as complications which manifest in the infected person’s body. HIV manifests itself in different parts of the human body from brain to the skin.

How the skin is affected

Most of skin conditions affecting infected individuals are due to viruses already in the body but a healthy person with a functioning immune system does not exhibit them on account of a healthy immune system (Elizabeth, 2012). Varicella zoster virus causes shingles as well as chicken pox. Many adults have previous encounters with this virus. Individuals infected with the HIV virus may develop skin lesions from either chicken pox or shingles. Those who have not had a previous chicken pox infection have a high probability of being infected with chicken pox. This may be fatal since as it may infect internal organs. Shingles on the other hand can appear on a particular part of the skin or spread all over the skin. Lesions as a result of shingles can be infected and possibly lead to prevalence of encephalitis which is an inflammatory condition affecting the brain (Elizabeth, 2012). The herpes simplex virus is another infection that is consistent in people who had the HIV virus for a long time. It causes the development of lesions resembling blisters in a cluster formation. They may heal or enlarge to become up to 5 centimeters diameter. Such are quite painful and crusted.

Oral health complications

Oral health in uninfected persons is normal but HIV positive individuals may develop candidiasis which is a fungal infection, and appear as white patches on the mouth. Periodontal diseases also occur due to bacterial infections causing loss of jaw tissue and ulcers.

HIV, the brain and effects on body mass (Elizabeth, 2012).

HIV affects person’s ability to function as normal through conditions like dementia, inability to think logically, process information, brain tumors, seizures, and regression in psychomotor skills (Elizabeth, 2012) major concern for HIV positive people is the wasting syndrome whereby more than 10% of body weight is lost and regaining it is difficult. It is however curbed through a health intake of a balanced diet rich in nutrients (Hinds, 2007).


HIV infections cause a variety of very serious complications though treatments have been developed to improve the lives of people living with HIV. A recent survey indicates that less than 10% of people with HIV actually die from HIV related diseases and are thus likely to die from other causes.




Works cited

Baum, Andrew and Contrada, Richard. The Handbook of Stress Science: Biology, Psychology, and Health. New York:  Springer Publishing Company, 2011

Connor Elizabeth. The Effects of HIV on the Body, HIV infection can affect your mouth, your skin, your brain, and even your weight. 2012. Web

Hinds, Maurene. Fighting the AIDS and HIV Epidemic: A Global Battle Issues in Focus Today. New Jersey:Enslow Publishers, Inc., 2007

Jordan-Belver, C. Understanding HIV and AIDS: strategies for prevention. Boston: D.C. Heath and co. 1996

Page Jenny, Louw Maylani, Pakkiri Deelene and  Jacobs Monica. Working With Hiv/Aids. South Africa:  Juta and Company Ltd, 2006


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