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Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is one of the most deadly viruses in the world. No country in Africa has escaped the virus. Some have been effected more then others though. The spread of AIDS in Africa is because of poor medical treatment and a lack of education on the part of the people. HIV is the virus which causes AIDS. (Aids in Africa,1994) HIV stands for Human Immune-deficiency Virus. The virus attacks the bodies immune system and weakens it. Scientists have wondered about the origin of HIV ever since the epidemic emerged. Experts believe that the virus was contracted through Chimpanzees. AIDS came from Chimps, 1999) Perhaps when someone was bitten by a chimp, or a hunter was exposed to contaminated blood while field dressing an animal. (AIDS came from Chimps, 1999)

Tests were done by Dr. Beatrice Hahn of the University of Alabama. Her studies tracked HIV back to a virus that infects four sub-species of chimps that live in Africa. (AIDS came from Chimps, 1999) Hahn and her team studied frozen tissue from a chimp that died of complications at childbirth. In his frozen tissue their was the chimp version of the AIDS virus, called SIVcpz. The genes in SIVcpz are genetically similar to the AIDS virus. AIDS came from Chimps, 1999) Chimps who have probably carried this virus for thousands of years do not get sick from it. Researchers are trying to find out why chimps are not effected by this virus, because it may lead to a cure. (Aids in Africa,1994) This productive finding about the virus wasn’t found until 1997 when testing started. (Aids in Africa,1994)

If it would have been found sooner maybe the massive spread of AIDS could have been prevented. Since the start of the epidemic an estimated 34 million people living in Sub-Saharan Africa in 1998 were infected with HIV. AIDS,1991) This is due to a lack of education on the part of the people in Africa. They are not taught about the virus as we are in the United States. In this country the public and media educate the people about AIDS, including how to prevent the disease. Without embarrassment, Americans openly discuss methods in which the disease is transmitted. However in African cultures confronting sexual issues that cause AIDS and HIV is very uncommon. (AIDS the epidemic,1994) In Africa AIDS has become the number one cause of death, overtaking Malaria. (The AIDS Reader,1991)

The U. N. AIDS/health experts say more than 40 million people contracted the disease in 1980’s and nearly 12 million of them have died in Africa. (The AIDS Reader,1991) If the people in Sub-Saharan Africa were educated about preventing the spread of AIDS and HIV maybe the statistics wouldn’t be so dramatically different from other countries. In the African countries good medical treatment can be hard to find. The United States has a better economy, and more highly trained professionals then Africa.

The lower quality of medical treatment in Africa has contributed to some of the spread of AIDS in the past. The AIDS Reader,1991) Unfortunately the cost of drugs to slow down the disease can cost $10,000-$20,000 per year per person. (The AIDS Reader,1991) This keeps most infected HIV patients from getting the needed drugs because they cant afford them.. This amount of money would cover the annual health care for 200 people in Zimbabwe. (The AIDS Reader,1991) A family in Sub-Saharan Africa might p. 2 spend between $600 and $1,500 to care for a person living with AIDS. The AIDS Reader,1991) This money could be used for a college education or other basic necessities.

This country was hit so hard with AIDS that more then one-quarter of working-age adults are infected with HIV and are forced to use money for health care. (AIDS the epidemic,1994) Zimbabwe was the hardest hit country of AIDS or HIV. In this country about half of all hospital beds are filled with patients who have AIDS and AIDS related symptoms. (AIDS,1991) Even if we stopped AIDS now the millions of people already living with it would make the disease continue. In Zimbabwe 25 esting sites were set up to test pregnant women’s blood for HIV virus.

At two of these sites less then 10% were infected, but at the remaining sites almost half were infected. (Aids in Africa,1994) All pregnant women with the virus have a risk of passing it onto the baby. One other major problem in the spread of AIDS is through rape and sexual abuse. In Africa these kinds of sexual actions are never discussed by the media or by the public. All the sexual problems, whether cultural or personal, are kept secrets. Confronting these issues is so uncommon in this culture that rapists re often “let off the hook,” and go free. AIDS the epidemic,1994) In Africa young girls are not willingly being sexually active at young ages. AIDS and HIV are getting spread through crimes and forced sexual contact. Older men and women are spreading this disease whether they know they have it or not. At this point and time, AIDS is incurable, although there are drugs that will increase a patients life span. (Aids in Africa,1994)

An older AZT treatment mixed with newer drugs called protease inhibitors will raise the T-cells in the immune system and help strengthen it. Aids in Africa,1994) This is not a cure, p. but it is a start in helping victims of the virus. However there is a problem; this new drug is unavailable to African’s or to expensive. (The AIDS reader,1991) If African health care professionals and government officials made a greater effort to educate everyone about the danger of AIDS, in the future the death rate could be greatly lowered. The media should be used more openly to discuss problems with the spreading of the disease. Clinics set up in remote areas of the country reach many people who do not have access to modern forms of edia.

These clinics blend more with the people and their culture should be used to educate the hard to reach people. Law enforcement officials could do their part by enforcing penalties against sexual abusers and not letting them go free. If the people of Africa were informed and had support in dealing with the sexual topics that cause the spread of the disease. Africans would have better lives and not have to suffer through so much sickness and death. The spread of this disease is mainly due to miss education of Africans and poor medical treatment in Africa.

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StudyBoss » Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a specific group of diseases or conditions that result from suppression of the immune system, related to infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By killing or impairing cells of the immune system, HIV progressively destroys the body’s ability to fight infections and certain cancers. A person infected with HIV gradually loses immune function along with certain immune cells called CD4 T-lymphocytes or CD4 T-cells, causing the infected person to become vulnerable to pneumonia, fungus infections, and other common ailments.

With the loss of immune function, a clinical syndrome (a group of various illnesses that together characterize a disease) develops over time and eventually results in death due to opportunistic infections (infections by organisms that do not normally cause disease except in people whose immune systems have been greatly weakened) or cancers. Transmission HIV is spread most commonly by sexual contact with an infected partner. The virus can enter the body through the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis, rectum or mouth during sex. HIV also is spread through contact with infected blood.

Prior to the screening of blood for evidence of HIV infection and before the introduction in 1985 of heat-treating techniques to destroy HIV in blood products, HIV was transmitted through transfusions of contaminated blood or blood components. Today, because of blood screening and heat treatment, the risk of acquiring HIV from such transfusions is extremely small. HIV frequently is spread among injection drug users by the sharing of needles or syringes contaminated with minute quantities of blood of someone infected with the virus.

However, transmission from patient to health-care worker or vice-versa via accidental sticks with contaminated needles or other medical instruments is rare Women can transmit HIV to their fetuses during pregnancy or birth. Approximately one-quarter to one-third of all untreated pregnant women infected with HIV will pass the infection to their babies HIV also can be spread to babies through the breast milk of mothers infected with the virus. If the drug AZT is taken during pregnancy, the chance of transmitting HIV to the baby is reduced significantly. Symptoms Many people do not develop any symptoms when they first become infected with HIV.

Some people have a flu-like illness within a month or two after exposure to the virus. They may have fever, headache, malaise and enlarged lymph nodes (organs of the immune system easily felt in the neck and groin). Some people develop frequent and severe herpes infections that cause mouth, genital or anal sores, or a painful nerve disease known as shingles. Children may have delayed development or failure to thrive. One of the first such symptoms experienced by many people infected with HIV is large lymph nodes or “swollen glands” that may be enlarged for more than three months.

Other symptoms often experienced months to years before the onset of AIDS include a lack of energy, weight loss, frequent fevers and sweats, persistent or frequent yeast infections (oral or vaginal), persistent skin rashes or flaky skin, pelvic inflammatory disease that does not respond to treatment or short-term memory loss. Treatment When AIDS first surfaced in the United States, no drugs were available to combat the underlying immune deficiency and few treatments existed for the opportunistic diseases that resulted.

Over the past 10 years, however, therapies have been developed to fight both HIV infection and its associated infections and cancers. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a number of drugs for the treatment of HIV infection. The first group of drugs used to treat HIV infection, called nucleoside analog reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), interrupt an early stage of virus replication. Included in this class of drugs are zidovudine (also known as AZT), zalcitabine (ddC), didanosine (ddI), stavudine (D4T), lamivudine (3TC) and abacavir succinate.

These drugs may slow the spreads of HIV infection and delay the onset of opportunistic infections. A third class of anti-HIV drugs, called protease inhibitors, interrupts virus replication at a later step in its life cycle. They include ritonavir, saquinivir, indinavir and nelfinavir. Currently available antiretroviral drugs do not cure people of HIV infection or AIDS, however, and they all have side effects that can be severe. AZT may cause a depletion of red or white blood cells, especially when taken in the later stages of the disease. If the loss of blood cells is severe, treatment with AZT must be stopped.

DdI can cause an inflammation of the pancreas and painful nerve damage. A number of drugs are available to help treat opportunistic infections to which people with HIV are especially prone. These drugs include foscarnet and ganciclovir, used to treat cytomegalovirus eye infections, fluconazole to treat yeast and other fungal infections, and TMP/SMX or pentamidine to treat Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP). Children are given PCP preventive therapy when their CD4+ T-cell counts drop to levels considered below normal for their age group.

Regardless of their CD4+ T-cell counts, HIV-infected children and adults who have survived an episode of PCP are given drugs for the rest of their lives to prevent a recurrence of the pneumonia. HIV-infected individuals who develop Kaposi’s sarcoma or other cancers are treated with radiation, chemotherapy or injections of alpha interferon, a genetically engineered naturally occurring protein. Prevention Since 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.

Because many people infected with HIV have no symptoms, there is no way of knowing with certainty whether a sexual partner is infected unless he or she has been repeatedly tested for the virus or has not engaged in any risky behavior. CDC recommends that people either abstain from sex or protect themselves by using male latex condoms whenever having oral, anal or vaginal sex. The risk of HIV transmission from a pregnant woman to her fetus is significantly reduced if she takes AZT during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and her baby takes it for the first six weeks of life.

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