AIDS is a syndrome caused by the HIV virus. It is when a person’s immune system is too weak to fight off many infections, and develops when the HIV infection is very advanced. This is the last stage of HIV infection where the body can no longer defend itself and may develop various diseases, infections and if left untreated, death. There is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS. However, with the right treatment and support, people can live long and healthy lives with HIV.
AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome. • AIDS is also referred to as advanced HIV infection or late-stage HIV. • Someone with AIDS may develop a wide range of other health conditions including: pneumonia, thrush, fungal infections, TB, toxoplasmosis and cytomegalovirus. • There is also an increased risk of developing other life-limiting conditions, including cancer and brain illnesses. • CD4 count refers to the number of T-helper cells in a cubic millilitre of blood. When a person’s CD4 count drops below 200 cells per millilitre of blood, they are said to have AIDS.
While the spread of the disease has been limited with some success, HIV/AIDS continues to present challenges in AustraliaSurvival time for people with HIV has improved over time, in part through the introduction of antiretroviral drug treatments with post-exposure prophylaxis treatments reducing the possibility of seroconversion and minimising the likelihood of HIV progression to AIDS. However, HIV does have its own health issues.After the initial success in limiting the spread of HIV, infection rates began to rise again in Australia, though they remained low by global standards. Indeed, the majority of new Australian cases of HIV/AIDS resulting from heterosexual contact have arisen through contact with a partner from a high-prevalence country.The new trend toward an increase in HIV infections prompted the government to indicate it was considering a return to highly visible advertising.On 19 October 2010, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that 21,171 Australians have HIV, with 1,050 new cases diagnosed in 2009.
HIV infection is now treatable for those with HIV expecting to live near-normal lifespans, providing they continue taking a regimen of antiretroviral drugs. Post-exposure prophylaxis drugs are generally available in Australia at a subsidised cost through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). 84% of (the 24,000) HIV positive gay men were on antiretroviral treatments in 2014. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) drugsare used as a means of reducing HIV risk for people who do not have HIV, with some advocates saying it will allow condomless safe-sex. Currently it costs $750 per month to import the drug from overseas. In Australia, PrEP drugs are awaiting Therapeutic Goods Administration approval. There is lobbying to have these PrEP drugs added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schem.