AIDS

708 Words3 Pages
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, is a currently recognized disease. It is caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which attacks selected cells in the immune system and causes them to function defectively. These deficiencies may not be apparent for years. They lead to the suppression of the immune system's ability to combat harmful organisms. This leaves the body open to invasion by various infections, which are called opportunistic diseases, and to the development of unusual cancers. The virus also affects certain brain cells. This leads to so-called neuropsychiatric abnormalities, or psychological disturbances caused by physical damage to the nerve cells. The first AIDS cases were reported in 1981 through 1996 more than 510,000 AIDS cases and more than 315,000 deaths have been reported in the United States alone.(Grolier). This is only the beginning of the HIV infection. It is estimated that nearly 1 million Americans had been infected with the virus through the mid-1990s but had not yet developed clinical symptoms (Grolier). In addition, AIDS cases have also been reported in almost every country in the world, with an estimated cumulative 19 million adults and children infected worldwide since the late 1970s. No cure or vaccine has been invented to cure AIDS. Many of those infected with HIV may not even be aware that they carry and can spread the virus. Scientists and doctors are constantly challenged by it. HIV infection and AIDS are one of the most intense public-health problems in the world. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has established criteria for defining cases of AIDS that are based on laboratory evidence such as T4 cell count, the presence of certain opportunistic diseases, and a range of other conditions (Grolier). The opportunistic diseases are often the most outstanding and life-threatening. It is now acknowledged that neuropsychiatric conditions of the brain caused by the HIV infection are also common. Other conditions caused by the HIV infection include fever, diarrhea, severe weight loss, and swollen lymph nodes. When HIV-infected persons experience some of the above symptoms but do not meet full criteria for AIDS, they are given the diagnosis of AIDS-related complex, or ARC. The growing feeling is that ARC and HIV infection without symptoms should be viewed as stages of progression toward getting full-blown AIDS. Because there is no effective vaccine or therapy, education and risk reduction are the best way to combat the epidemic.

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