Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome

(AIDS) A disease of humans caused by Human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) 1 and 2. Globally, more than 36 million people were infected by the year 2000. The incubation time from infection to development of AIDS appears to range from 6 to 13 years (median 10 years). AIDS is primarily a disease of the immune system so the infection usually results in a wide range of adverse immunological and clinical conditions. The extent of the disease is generally measured by the CD4+ lymphocyte count, and as the count declines to below 200 per microliter there is serious risk of AIDS-related complex (ARC), a syndrome involving opportunistic infections, such as recurrent bacterial infections, candidiasis, pulmonary tuberculosis, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, EBV-associated lymphoma, and Kaposi's sarcoma. The opportunistic infections (i.e. those caused by microorganisms that seldom cause disease in persons with normal defense mechanisms) and cancers resulting from immune deficiency are generally the most severe but neurological problems such as dementia resulting from HIV infection of the brain cells can also occur. The disease is almost always fatal. It is generally transmitted through blood and body fluids, usually through unprotected sexual intercourse, but vertical and/or perinatal transmission is also very common. AIDS is prevalent among injecting drug addicts and in patients receiving blood transfusions. It can be partly controlled by antiretroviral drugs such as AZT (azidothymidine) or non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors such as nevirapine combined with protease inhibitors (See HAART therapy), but the side-effects of the drugs are not negligible.

Jasny B (Editor) (1993) Science 260, 1253 Kaplan JE et al (2000) Clin Infect Dis 30, Suppl 1 Levy JA (1993) Microbiol Rev 57, 183

acridine orange A fluorescent derivative of acridine which will bind to nucleic acids in cells or within the virion. When exposed to ultraviolet light, the dye fluo-resces orange if the nucleic acid is single-stranded; green if it is double-stranded. See also photodynamic inactivation.

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