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Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
A.I.D.S., also known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, is a disorder of
the body’s immune system. In A.I.D.S. the body stops producing some of its important
natural defenses against disease. Victims often die from disease of infections they cannot
fight. A.I.D.S is the result of an infection known as HIV, human immunodeficiency
virus. A person with HIV gradually loses function of their immune system, becoming less
able to fight off common colds and virus, thus eventually leading to death.
HIV was first revealed in the early 80’s in homosexual men. Infection with HIV
does not necessarily mean that a person does have A.I.D.S. A person can be HIV
positive for years without developing illnesses that are associated with the A.I.D.S.
disease. HIV is characterized by a gradual deterioration of the immune system. Cells
known as T-Helper cells are disabled and killed during the course of the infection. These
cells play an important part in the human body because they signal other cells to perform
their special functions.
The AIDS epidemic is growing very rapidly among minority populations and is a
leading killer of African American males.
HIV can be transmitted by contact with infected blood, most often by the sharing
of drug needles or syringes contaminated with blood containing the virus. The risk of
contacting the HIV virus from blood transfusions has decreased since earlier years. Now
all donated blood is screened for any signs of the HIV virus. HIV is spread most
commonly by having sex with someone who already has the virus. The virus can enter the
human body through the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis, rectum, or mouth during sex.
Almost all HIV infected children get the HIV virus from their mothers before or
during birth. A drug known as AZT can reduce risk of transmission of the virus from
mother to child. The virus can also be transmitted when an HIV infected mother nurses
her child with infected milk.
Once HIV enters the body it infects many cell and replicates itself rapidly. Two to
four weeks after the person is infected with the virus, they begin to suffer flu-like
symptoms. HIV also is spread through contact with infected blood. Before blood was
screened for evidence of HIV infection and before heat-treating techniques to destroy HIV
in blood products were introduced, HIV was transmitted through transfusions of
Laboratory studies reveal that saliva has natural properties that limit the power of
HIV to infect. Research studies of people infected with HIV have found no evidence that
the virus is spread to others through saliva such as by kissing.
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no evidence that HIV is spread through sweat, tears, urine, or feces. Studies of families of
HIV-infected people have shown clearly that HIV is not spread through casual contact
such as the sharing of food utensils, swimming pools, telephones, or toilet seats. HIV is
not spread by biting insects such as mosquitoes or bedbugs.
Having a sexually transmitted disease such as syphilis, genital herpes, chlamydial
infection, gonorrhea, or bacterial vaginosis appears to make people more susceptible to
acquiring HIV infection during sex with infected partners.
As the immune system deteriorates, a variety of complications start to take over.
Some symptoms that take place are: lack of energy, weight loss, frequent fevers and
sweats, persistent or frequent yeast infections, persistent skin rashes and flaky skin, and
short term memory loss.
People with AIDS are particularly prone to developing various cancers. These
cancers are usually more aggressive and difficult to treat in people with AIDS. One such
cancer is known as Kaposi’s sarcoma.
Many people are so weakened by the symptom of AIDS that they cannot hold
steady employment or do household chores. Other people with AIDS may experience
phases of intense life-threatening illness followed by phases in which they function
People exposed to the virus should get an HIV test as soon as they are likely to
develop antibodies to the virus. By getting tested early, they can get the right treatment at
a time when their immune systems are most able to fight HIV and thus prevent the certain
opportunistic infections from spreading through the body rapidly. Early testing also alerts
HIV infected people to avoid high-risk behaviors that could spread the virus to others.
Doctors diagnose HIV infection by using two different types of antibody tests,
ELISA and Western Blot. Because no vaccine for HIV is available, the only way to
prevent infection by the virus is to avoid behaviors that put a person at risk of infection,
such as sharing needles and having unprotected sex.
People should either abstain from having sex or use latex condoms, which may
offer partial protection, during oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Only condoms made of latex
should be used, and water-based lubricants should be used with latex condoms.
Because there is as yet no successful vaccination against HIV, prevention efforts
have focused mainly on educating the public about routes of HIV transmission and about
personal measures that reduce the risk of infection. the national aids clearinghouse, a
hotline to spread educational literature and current statistics on aids has been established.
Safe-sex campaigns encourage sexual abstinence or monogamy and the use a latex
condoms to provide a protective barrier during sexual intercourse. Needle-exchange
programs have been implemented to reduce needle sharing and consequent HIV
transmission among drug abusers. The US government has the strict guidelines for
health-care settings, including use of protective clothing and proper instrument disposal,
to decrease the risk of transmission to both the patient and the health care provider. On
the national scale, screening of the blood supply has greatly reduced the risk of contracting
HIV from blood products. However, with the exception of blood screening, these
prevention programs have had only limited success.
Discrimination against persons living with HIV/ AIDS remains a primary concern
in the United States. Efforts to reduce discrimination must remain a priority, because
people are still losing their jobs, are refused medical care , housing, and child care for
their children. Many people in the world are not aware of the ways people get AIDS.
They are mostly afraid of acquiring the disease themselves, they fear death and thus fear
those who are dying. They think that if they touch or stand near some one who is infected
with HIV or AIDS, they will get the disease . AIDS is not contagious, this is what most
people fail to understand. They think that it is spread like the common cold.
Persons with HIV infection have been terminated from their jobs, denied access to
social services, or denied medical treatment solely because of their handicap. Individuals
have been similarly treated because they have been perceived as having HIV infection.
Such actions by an agency, institution, hospital, nursing home, drug treatment center,
clinic, organization or other entity receiving Federal funds may constitute unlawful
discrimination under Section 504. Section 504 protects qualified persons with HIV
The Americans with Disability Act prohibits discrimination against people with
disabilities, including those with HIV. Employees who disclose their HIV infection to
their bosses still face discrimination after all of the progress made with the disease. AIDS
discrimination occurs in every workplace imaginable. There are even stories that
employers tell the HIV-infected individual to leave and not touch the typewriters on the
way out. Some employers have been found to exclude or limit HIV-infected individuals
from health insurance policies. But a few other companies are permitting their employees
with AIDS to work part-time or from home if they can no longer come to the office.
People claim that testing positive does not necessarily mean a person will contract AIDS.
Furthermore, they say virus carriers and even people with AIDS pose no threat in the
I think that AIDS is a disease that must be stopped immediately. More and more
people are dying from this disease everyday. Pretty soon it’s going to become a common
everyday problem. People must be educated about AIDS and learn about preventing it
from happening to them. I understand that some people can’t help contracting AIDS, due
to circumstances such as contaminated blood, but mistakes like this should not be
happening. AIDS is like an accident because of things like one night stands and drugs.
People don’t mean to catch AIDS through drugs or one night stands but they do, it’s
something that just happens, an accident.
In conclusion, AIDS is a worldwide epidemic that is taking over most of the
world. We must learn from the statistics and information we read on how to prevent
further spread of the disease. In this way, we ensure a safer society for the future children
to live in. Hopefully, scientists will find a cure for AIDS in the near future.
Until that time comes we must do our part and practice abstinence.