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Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

AIDS is the acronym used for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is a disease transmitted through the blood. It is transmitted from person to person through sexual intercourse, blood transfusions, I. V. drug users, and from mothers to babies during birth. AIDS is a disease which breaks down the human immune system causing the body to become very susceptible to infection. The disease is brought about by the HIV-1 virus. HIV-1( Human Immunodeficiency Virus) can remain dormant for years and then begins to attack the bodies T- cells and white cells which help fight off infection.

Full-blown AIDS occurs when a person is in the last stages of his or her battle for life. It is a fatal disease not because of the disease itself but because of the fact that other infections attack the body and it has no way to recover from it. Full-blown AIDS is the stage of a person’s life when their immune system has been completely destroyed. A person does not usually have any symptoms of the disease. That is that there are no real indications that a person is infected. There is no certain look to a person who is HIV-1 positive.

They could be the person who lives next door or a complete tranger that is seen passing by one the street. The patient may feel tired, nauseous, feverish, and have a loss of appetite or weight. These are also indications of many other diseases. This is why most people only find out that they are positive after a random blood test. Blood tests are given to patients and the virus can be detected in the bloodstream. False positives and negatives can also occur. For this reason it is recommended that a person be tested more that once over a As of today there is no cure for AIDS and HIV-1 because of a few reasons.

One is that it is such a new disease. The United States is in the middle of a widespread epidemic of a killer virus that was only discovered about sixteen years ago. During the summer of 1981, the United States recognized their first case of AIDS. After later research though, it was found to have been around in 1975. At first, AIDS was thought to be a homosexual disease. The gay community in New York City has been hit the hardest with about 1/2 million cases to date. Scientists believe that the virus was carried by male homosexuals during the sexual revolution of the mid- 1970s.

Promiscuity was common among all people. It is thought to have been brought from New York City on the East coast to San Francisco on the West coast. San Francisco is another common area in the country for gay people to live. It also has the second highest rate of AIDS per capita in the country. When AIDS was first seen in this country, a widespread homophobia broke out. People felt that the gay community was going to be responsible for the outbreak of this horrible and uncontrollable disease.

A disease which could cause the Male Homosexuals are the principal victims of AIDS but that is rapidly changing. The virus must somehow been contracted by heterosexuals from blood transfusions or needle sharing. The numbers of infected heterosexuals in the United States is growing. The fastest growing group is in women and young adults ages 18-25. These ideas seemed outrageous a few years ago but today are not so far-fetched. As of 1990, women made up about ten percent of infected Americans but the numbers keep on growing.

About one-fifth of all reported cases are young adults in their twenties. An average of two college students per every one thousand tested had contracted the virus. The number of teenagers who contracted the virus rose over forty percent between the years 1988-1990. After the spreading of the virus from homosexuals to heterosexuals, people became panicked. The only way that HIV-1 can be spread is through bodily fluid like blood. The transmission can only take place during sex, a transfer of blood, or from the birth of a child of an infected woman.

People were not educated about the disease because it was so new. A fear came over the non- infected people. Those who were infected became alienated from the rest of the society. People began to hink up new and bizarre ways that the disease could be contracted. Though the government has tried to educate people about the disease, some people are still not clear on the facts or they just refuse to acknowledge the AIDS is an epidemic that can not be cured but can be contained. One unprotected sexual intercourse can be the cause of the transmission of the HIV-1 virus.

In order to prevent the spread of the virus this way there are two main solutions, use a condom or don’t have sex. People do not see things this way though. When a teenager was asked if he would have sex, knowing the consequences, ithout having a condom is answer was yes(Fain 42). If people continue to act this way, the entire world will probably be dead. Other ways of preventing the spread of AIDS have already been put into affect. Blood which is donated for transfusions is screened for the virus so that it is not given to an uninfected person.

There are also programs in effect to exchange used needles with clean ones so that I. V. drug users have less a chance of contracting the disease. There are plenty of ways to keep from contracting the virus, it all depends on the morals, values, and brains of people. Another reason why there is no cure for AIDS and HIV- 1 is the virus itself. The make-up of the strand of the virus baffles the medical and science world. When HIV-1 enters the blood stream, it attacks the good cells of the body.

After a short period, the virile strand changes shape and form. This change of form is what has the doctors stumped. When a research team thinks that they have a cure or way to slow down the course of the virus, the virus becomes completely different. This does not mean that advances have not been made. It is just the opposite. The progress which scientists have made in uch a short time has other fields of medicine and science stunned. Never before has such progress been made about a new and unheard of virus in such short time.

Millions of dollars have been spent in the research for a cure for AIDS. Most of the research has been conducted by the CDC(Centers for Disease Control) and funded by the federal government. There have also been many private organizations which have benefits to raise money for AIDS research. There have been advances in prolonging the onset of AIDS though, three strategies have been used in this prolonging. The first is to treat the infection that the patient has, the second is to treat the AIDS itself, and the third is to stimulate the immune system.

By treating the infection of the patient, the underlying problem is not dealt with. The second uses anti-viral drugs to inhibit the AIDS virus. These drugs are known as PFA, AZT, and AL721. These drugs are very powerful and toxic and are only effective when continued with treatment. When treatment is stopped, the virus and all its symptoms reappear. Bone marrow transplants are used to stimulate the immune system. Bone marrow produces lood cells. A transplant can allow the body to reproduce some cells that are not infected with the virus.

Whatever treatments are used, they must be done while the patients immune systems are still in tact. After the immune system is destroyed, there is pretty Although the HIV-1 virus is a new virus in the United States, it is not new to the world. The villages of Africa have been inflicted with the virus for about one hundred years. They did not know what it was that was killing them. It began to infect those in the medical centers who worked with the blood. The villagers did not now what was killing them, how it was transmitted, and how to stop it.

Scientists are still not sure of the evolution of the HIV-1 and AIDS viruses. They don’t know how it came about or how it was brought to the United States. They do know that they must find an answer to it Other Countries around the world have vast cases of infection from these viruses as well. Haiti, Canada, Asian, and European countries are all battling in a war against a deadly disease. Scientists from all over the world have joined together to help win the war against AIDS. It can not be done by one person though.

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