Millions of people all over the world have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS or cancer, and in some cases, both. These two diseases are both very deadly and can cause other problems within a person’s body. HIV/AIDS and cancer are chronic diseases that affect the human body, although there are some advantages with HIV/AIDS compared to cancer. Even though there are treatments available for both of these diseases, unfortunately, a cure has yet to be found. HIV/AIDS is another name for Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. HIV is the virus that ultimately leads to AIDS, and AIDS is the disease that causes death.
They are not the same. People can live for years and years before getting AIDS. There are three main stages of HIV infection. These stages are acute infection, clinical latency, and AIDS. The acute infection usually follows the initial contraction of the HIV virus. Most individuals may experience flu-like symptoms. Other symptoms may include, but are not limited to, enlarged lymph nodes which may become tender, rash, and sores that may appear in the mouth or genital area. The next stage of HIV is clinical latency, which is also referred to as asymptomatic HIV or chronic HIV.
It is unusual for a person to experience many symptoms during this stage, but at times an individual can experience periods of weight loss, GI problems, muscle pains, night sweats, etc. With proper treatment, this stage can last from approximately 3 to over 20 years. The last stage is AIDS. A person is diagnosed with AIDS once their T cell count or CD4 is below 200, or there are other diseases present associated with HIV infection. Pneumonia and recurring respiratory tract infections are usually the main signals to alert people to the possible presence of AIDS. During this stage the symptoms a person may experience tend to get worse as the disease progresses.
HIV/AIDS attacks the immune system. Once the immune system is weakened, this puts the individual at high risk for contracting other infections and tumors that don’t usually affect people with healthy immune systems. This disease can also cause cancer. Cancer, which is another chronic disease, in medical terms, is known as a malignant neoplasm. This disease is very complex. Cancer deals with unregulated cell growth. These cells can divide and multiply at an extremely rapid rate. These rapidly multiplying cells can form malignant tumors that invade nearby, and most times, distant parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymphatic system.
At the beginning stage of cancer there are usually no signs or symptoms. They usually start to appear as the disease progresses. The symptoms a person with cancer may experience can depend on the location of the tumor. A mass that is in the lungs may cause coughing, pneumonia, or other respiratory problems. A mass located in the colon area can lead to narrowing or blockages in the bowel, which causes changes in bowel habits. This disease is treated with medication, chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. The treatment a person receives depends on the location of the cancer, the health of the patient, and the patient’s wishes.
HIV/AIDS is mainly transmitted or contracted through unprotected sex, exposure to infected body fluids by way of contaminated blood, hypodermic needles, and from mother to baby during pregnancy, child birth, or breast feeding. HIV cannot be transmitted through saliva, feces, or tears. There are many different causes of cancer, and it is almost impossible to pin point one specific cause. Cancer can be caused by, to name a few, tobacco use, radiation, obesity, lack of physical activity, and certain pollutants that affect the environment. These, along with an individual’s genetic makeup, put an individual at higher risk for getting this disease.
Luckily, HIV can usually be prevented by having protected sex and not sharing needles. There are vaccines for certain viruses that cause cancer. For instance, Gardisil and Cervarix is a vaccination used to prevent HPV (human papillomarvirus), the disease that causes cervical cancer. Also there is the Hepatitis B vaccine. This vaccine is used to prevent Hepatitis B. This disease ultimately causes liver cancer. Many people have the assumption that there are certain medications that will prevent cancer, such as vitamins or supplements, but that has not been proven.
NSAIDs are used to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, but when used for prevention, they tend to cause more harm. Although low levels of vitamin D are associated with increased cancer risk, vitamins have not been found to be affective at preventing cancer. Other than the vaccines that were mentioned earlier, there really isn’t a medical prevention for cancer, but people can certainly lower their risks by implementing healthy eating habits, exercising at 20-25 minutes a day, or even a few days a week. Eliminating bad habits like smoking will also lower the risk for getting cancer. It is also helpful to get regular screenings such as a mammogram, colonoscopy, and prostate exams.
These screenings can help with early detection of a tumor. This way, people can catch the problem before it gets worse. Unlike cancer, with HIV/AIDS, if people follow the treatment plan set by their physician along with a healthy diet and exercise and avoid anything that has a negative effect on their body, they can still live a long and normal life.
Work Cited “AIDS vs HIV. ” – Difference and Comparison. N. p. , n. d. Web. 02 Mar. 2014. “Cancer vs. HIV / AIDS: A Comparative Overview. ” — American Massage Therapy Association. N. p. , n. d. Web. 02 Mar. 2014.