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AIDS AIDS is Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. High risk groups include homosexual or bisexual men, intravenous drug users who share needles, the sexual partners of those in high risk groups, infants born to mothers with HIV, and persons who received blood transfusions or clotting products between 1977 and 1985 (prior to standard screening for the virus in the blood). In the United States, AIDS is the fifth leading cause of death among persons between ages 25 and 44. The Center of Disease Control has estimated that about 2.2 million Americans were infected with HIV virus as of January 1998 and that just about 30.6 million people worldwide were infected with HIV. Approximately 41 percent of the 30.6 million adults living with HIV were women and the numbers are growing everyday. CAUSES Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes AIDS. AIDS is the final and most serious stage of the HIV disease. It is scientifically proven that HIV is spread by sexual contact with an infected person, by sharing needles or less commonly, through transfusions of infected products. Babies born to HIV infected women may become infected before, during birth or through breast milk. There was one instance of patients being infected by a healthcare worker in the United States; this involved HIV transmission from one infected dentist to six patients. Some fear that HIV might be transmitted in other ways. However, no scientific evidence has been found to support any of these fears. Some people think that they can catch HIV from casual contact. Yet, 90% - 99% of HIV virus weakens in just several hours; it does not survive the environment. If you live with an infected person transmission is very rare and for the work place there are no risk factors for transmission to co-workers, clients or consumers from food service establishments. Closed mouth kissing also has no risk factors. Although in 1997, the CDC found some evidence of transmission from human bites. HIV has been found in saliva and tears in very low quantities from AIDS patients, but this does not necessarily mean it is transmitted by those body fluids. Insect bites have shown no evidence either. On the other hand, it has been proven that HIV is transmitted when body fluid of infected person enters the bloodstream of a person without HIV and is found in semen, blood, vaginal secretions, and human breast milk.

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