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Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

(AIDS) is caused by the Human

Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). "The

virus was discovered in France in

1983 and in the United States in

1984. In the United States, it was

initially identified in 1981. In

1986, a second virus, now called

HIV-2, was also discovered in

Africa.(Bookshelves)" Female

prostitutes in Africa probably

spread it very quickly. AIDS became

a huge crisis of major proportions

in parts of Africa. It is my own

strongly held opinion, and that of

most medical and research community

world wide, that the AIDS epidemic

is a serious problem. It has become

the worst plague this species has

ever known. Vastly greater sums

should be spent on searching for

treatments and vaccines. The United

States government needs to do more

intensive tests and research to

help curb this virus instead of

waiting for other countries to do


AIDS is transmitted in one of three

ways: From intimate sexual contact

without protection, from the mixing

of a person’s blood with infected

blood, and from an infected

pregnant woman to her fetus.

Infection can occur from blood

transfusions of infected blood, or

sharing unclean needles. (Needles

already used, in this case, by an

HIV positive person and not

sterilized.) The HIV-2 virus also

causes AIDS.

AIDS was first seen as a disease

limited gay males in the United

States. "This was a result that gay

males in this culture before AIDS

had an average of 200 to 400 new

sexual contacts per year. This

figure was much greater than the

new sexual encounters among

heterosexual (straight) men or

women. (Strack,5)" In addition, it

turned out that rectal sex was a

particularly effective way to

transmit the disease. Rectal sex is

a common practice among gay males.

For these reasons, the disease

spread in the gay male population

of the United States more quickly

than in other populations. It

became to be thought of as a "gay

disease". As the AIDS epidemic

began to affect increasingly large

fractions of those two populations

(gay males and IV drug abusers),

many of the rest of the American

society looked on smugly, for both

populations tended to be despised

by the "mainstream" of society

here. It is extremely important for

scientists to find a cure for AIDS.

It is important because mostly

everyone in the world has sex. The

safest option regarding AIDS and

sex is total abstinence from all

sexual contact. For those who

prefer to indulge in sexual

contact, this is often far too

great a sacrifice.

The development of a safe and

effective vaccine to prevent HIV

infection is among the highest

priorities for the AIDS research

effort. Yet, vaccine research

historically has received less

funding and attention than other

areas of AIDS research. Although

this may have been justifiable in

the past, the continued spread of

the HIV epidemic and recent

advances in our knowledge dictate a

reassessment of priorities and a

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restructuring of the vaccine

initiative. In many developing

nations, vaccines may be the only

cost-effective way to prevent

transmission and control the

pathological consequences of HIV

infection. Despite the urgent need,

efforts to develop an HIV vaccine

candidate that is likely to be

highly effective have been

unsuccessful to date. These efforts

have been impeded by the lack of a

good animal model for HIV challenge

studies and our failure to identify

specific correlates of immune

protection, as well as other

factors. However, dissection of

immune responses from animals

protected by vaccination or studies

of individual humans who appear

able to control HIV replication and

possibly resist infection may

provide new insights for vaccine

development. While the course and

time to an effective AIDS vaccine

cannot be predicted, there can be

no question of the importance of

the effort. "The results of a

comprehensive HIV/AIDS poll

conducted by the Kaiser Foundation

found that Americans not only

refute the notion of an end to

AIDS, but they support an increase

in research funding, effective

prevention efforts and better

availability of life-prolonging

treatments. The poll also indicated

overwhelming support (73 percent)

for ensuring that new

life-prolonging drug treatments are

made available to all HIV-positive

Americans, not just the wealthiest

or best insured. For HIV

prevention, Americans indicated

strong support including programs

such as needle exchange (64 percent

support) and television condom

advertising (62 percent).(Strack,8)

"AIDS ranks near the bottom of the

list of the top 10 mortal diseases

and accounts for about 35,000

deaths annually. Heart disease

claims 720,000 lives annually, and

cancer kills 505,000. Yet the

federal government will spend more

on AIDS than on heart disease ($828

million) and cancer ($2.4 billion).

(Strack,12)" AIDS funding generally

is allocated according to the

numbers of people who ever have

contracted AIDS including those

already have died not those

currently diagnosed with HIV. Three

recent reports on AIDS research

funding, including a major effort

by 100 scientists and advocates to

be released, stated "that a large

proportion of the $1.3 billion

spent by the National Institutes of

Health in 1997 went to programs

that have little or nothing to do

with AIDS.(Encarta, 1996-97)" Many

people feel that most of the

funding for AIDS is wasted on

protecting the confidentiality of

people with AIDS. Some of the money

for AIDS was used to help keep the

individual health institutes in

business and some was siphoned off

to cover basic research that wasn't

related to the AIDS battle. Many

Americans know about how the AIDS

money is spent and feels that since

this injustice in occurs, money can

be used in areas of science.

The AIDS virus is an epidemic that is proven to be around for a

long time. Many people have lost their lives due to this disease.

The disease effects both the rich and poor of society. It has made

society become very discriminate against people with AIDS. It has

also escalated the hate of society towards the homosexual group

of our culture. Many people have lived in fear because of it with

hopes that no one will find out they have the disease. By

increasing government spending on AIDS treatments and vaccines

will be invented to help fight this disease.

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