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Aids—A Horrendous Disease


Category : Essays

Posted by Thu, August 30th 2012


''Aids, the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome leas as summed alarming proportions in the last few years, though it has been surreptitiously developing over a number of years."

Many theories have been adduced to unravel the mystery shrouding the origin of AIDS, but none is perfect. The first few cases of AIDS came to light in the early eighties. A victim of disease of AIDS was found in 1981, having very low résistance to diseases and later succumbed to pneumonia. The term AIDS was actually coined  in 1982. After much debate the virus was called HIV, Human Immuno Deficiency Virus.                                                            1


Some Facts about AIDS:

A positive HIV test does not mean that a person has AIDS. A diagnosis of A! is made by a physician according to the AIDS Case Definition.

Over time, infection with HIV (Human Immuno deficiency Virus) can weaken' immune system to the point that the system has difficulty in fighting certain bacteria’s causing infections. These types of infections are known as opportunistic infections many of the infections that cause problems or that can be life-threatening for people with AIDS are usually controlled by a healthy immune system.


What is the Difference Between HIV and AIDS?

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.

H - Human: because this virus can only infect human beings.

 I - Immune-deficiency: because the effect of the virus is to create a deficiency, a failure to work properly, within the body's immune system.

V- Virus: because this organism is a virus which means one of its character; is that it is incapable of reproducing by itself. It reproduces by taking over machinery of the human cell.

A - Acquired: because it's a condition one must acquire or get infected with something transmitted through the genes.

I - Immune: because it affects the body's immune system, the part of the body which usually works to fight germs such as bacteria and viruses.

D - Deficiency: because it makes the immune system deficient (makes q work properly).

S - Syndrome: because someone with AIDS may experience a wide rand different diseases and opportunistic infections.


How long does it take for HIV to cause AIDS?

Currently, the average time between HIV infection and the appearance of signs that could lead to an AIDS diagnosis is 8-11 years. This time varies from person to person and can depend on many factors including a person's health status and behaviors. Today there are medical treatments that can slow down the action of HIV that weakens

the immune system. There are other treatments to prevent or cure some of the illnesses associated with AIDS. As with other diseases, early detection offers more options for treatment and preventative health care.


What's the connection between HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases?

Having a sexually transmitted disease (STD) can increase a person's risk of becoming infected with HIV, whether or not that STD causes lesions or cracks in the skin. If the STD infection causes irritation of the skin, cracks or sores may make it prone for HIV to enter the body during sexual contact. Even an STD that causes no cracks or sores can stimulate an immune response in the genital area that can make  HTV transmission more likely.


Where did HIV come from?

The most recent presentation on the origin of HIV was presented at the 6th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunitistic Infections (Chicago, January 1999). At that conference, research was presented and suggested that HIV had "crossed over" into the human population from particular species of chimpanzee, probably through

blood contact that occurred during hunting and field dressing of the animals. The findings of researches presented at this conference provided the strongest evidence to dale that H IV-1 originated in non-human primates.

We know that the virus has existed in the United States, Haiti and Africa since at least 1977-1978, In 1979, rare types of pneumonia, cancer and other illnesses were reported by doctors in Los Angeles and New York. The common threat was that these conditions were not usually found in persons with healthy immune systems. In 1982

the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially named the AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). In 1984 the virus responsible for weakening the immune system was identified as HIV (Human Immuno deficiency Virus).


How do many people have HIV and AIDS?

Worldwide: UNAIDS estimates that as on December 2000, there were an estimated 36.1 million people infected with HIV/AIDS (34.7 million adults and 1.4 million children under 15). Since the epidemic noticed, an estimated 21.8 million people have died of AIDS (17.5 million adults and 4.3 million children under 15). An estimated 5.3 million new HIV infections were reported in 2000. During 2000, HIV and AIDS-associated illnesses caused deaths of an estimated 3 million people including 500.000 children under the age of 15. In the United States: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are between 8,00,000 and 9,00,000 people living with HIV. Through December 2000, a total of 7,74,467 cases of AIDS have been reported to the CDC; and 4,48,060 persons (representing 58%ct cases) have died.                                                        •


How can one find if he is infected with HIV ?

The only way to determine is to be tested for HIV infection. One can't rely on symptoms to know whether or not he is infected with HIV. Many people infected with HIV don't have symptoms for many years. The symptoms associated with AIDS are similar to the symptoms of many other diseases. AIDS is a diagnosis made by a doctor A

based on specific tests.


Symptoms of HIV 

Primary HIV infection is the first stage of this disease, when the virus first establishes itself in the body. Some researchers use the term acute HIV infection to describe the period of time between when a person is first infected with HIV and when antibodies against the virus are produced by the body (usually 6-12 weeks).

Some people newly infected with HIV experience some "flu-like" symptoms. These symptoms, which usually last for few days, might include fevers, chills, night sweats and rashes (not cold-like symptoms). Other people either do not experience' "acute infection," or have symptoms so mild that they may not notice them.      "

The general character of the symptoms of acute infection, can easily have causes other than HIV, such as flu. For example, if one had some risk for HIV a few days ago and are now experiencing flu-like symptoms, HIV might be responsible for the symptoms, or might have some other viral infections-


Symptoms of AIDS

There are no common symptoms for individuals diagnosed with AIDS. When immune system damage is more severe, people may experience opportunistic infections because they are caused by organisms which cannot induce disease with normal immune systems, but take the "opportunity" to flourish with HIV. Most of these more

severe infections, diseases and symptoms fall under the Centers for Disease Control's definition of full-blown "AIDS." The expected time to make an AIDS diagnosis among those infected with HIV is 7-10 years.


How is HIV Transmitted ?

HIV can be transmitted from an infected person to another through:

(a) Blood (including menstrual blood)

(b) Semen

(c) Vaginal secretions

(d) Breast milk

Blood contains the highest concentration of the virus followed by semen.

Vaginal fluids and by breast milk.


Activities That Allow HIV Transmission :

Unprotected sexual contact

Direct blood contact, including injecting drug needles, blood transfusions, accidents in health care settings or certain blood products.

Mother to baby (before or during birth, or through breast milk)

Sexual intercourse (vaginal and anal): In the genitals and the rectum, HIV may infect the mucous membranes directly or enter through cuts and sores caused during intercourse (many of which would be unnoticed). Vaginal and anal intercourse is a high – risk – practice. s

Oral sex: The mouth is an inhospitable environment for HIV (insemen, vaginal fluid or blood), the risk of HIV transmission through the throat, gums, and oral membranes is lower than vaginal or anal membranes. There are. however, some cases where HIV was transmitted orally, so we can't say that getting HIV-infected semen, virginal fluid or blood in the mouth is without risk. However, oral sex is considered low risk practice.

Sharing injection needles: An injection needle can pass blood directly from one person to another. This practice is common in drug edicted persons. It is a very efficient way to transmit a blood-bomae virus. Sharing needles is a high-risk practice.

Mother to Child: It is possible for an HIV-infected mother to pass the virus directly before or during birth, or through breast milk. Breast milk contains HIV. And while small amounts of breast milk do not pose significant threat of infection to adults, it is a viable means of transmission to infants. The "bodily fluids" like Saliva, Tears,

Sweat, Feces, Urine are not considered infectious:


Can one get HIV from kissing?

Casual contact through closed-mouth or "social" kissing is not a risk for transmission of' HIV. Because of the potential for contact with blood during "French" or open-mouth, wet kissing, doctors recommends to avoid in this activity w

person known to be infected. However, the risk of acquiring HIV during open-in kissing is believed to be very low.

Can one get f'Hy from casual contact (shaking hands, hugging, using a toilet drinking from the same glass, or the sneezing and coughing of an infected person.

 No. HIV is not transmitted by day to day contact in the home, the work schools, or social sittings. HIV is not transmitted through shaking hands, hugging  a casual kiss. One cannot get infected from a toilet seat, a drinking fountain doorknob, dishes, drinking glasses, food. or pets.

HIV is a fragile virus that does not live long outside the body. HIV is a airborne or food borne virus. HIV is present in the blood, semen or vaginal secretion of an infected person and can be transmitted through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex or through sharing injection drug needles.


Can a woman give HIV to a man during vaginal intercourse?

Yes. If the woman is infected, HIV is present in vaginal and cervical secretion and can enter the penis through the urethra or through cuts or abrasions on the skin of the penis. The presence of other STDs can increase the risk of transmission the correct and consistent use of a latex condom or female condom can reduce the risk transmitting HIV during vaginal intercourse. 


How effective are latex condoms in preventing HIV?

Several studies have demonstrated that latex condoms are highly effective in  preventing HIV transmission when used correctly and consistently.

What if one is HIV positive?

If one gets positive, the sooner he takes steps to protect his health. Early medical treatment, a healthy lifestyle and a positive attitude can help one stay well. Prompt medical care may delay the onset of AIDS and prevent some life-threatening conditions.


How long after a possible exposure should one be tested for HIV ?

The time it takes for a person who has been infected with HIV to seroconvert (test positive) for HIV antibodies is commonly called the "Window Period”. When a  person is infected with the HIV virus, statistics show that 95-97% (perhaps higher) of all infected individuals develop antibodies within 12 weeks (3-months). The National CDC say that in some cases, it may take six months to seroconvert (test positive). At this point the results would be 99.9% accurate.  


What does this mean for a person?

The three-month window period is normal for approximately 95% of the population. If you feel any anxiety about relying on the 3-month result, by all means you should have another test at 6 months.


Is there anything one can do to stay healthy?

The short answer is yes. There are things that one can stay healthy.

Emotional support may be very important for HIV-positive people because it breaks the isolation and provides a safe way of sharing both feelings and practical information.


Do the new drugs we hear about cure AIDS?

There is no cure for AIDS, but these drugs are helping to prolong the lives of many people with AIDS and delaying the onset of AIDS in many people with HIV.

Owing to the rapid pace, it spread all over the world, it has earned a veritable state of Pandemic. The HIV has multiplied a hundred times in less than a decade. The situation is very grave in the USA, Thailand and many African, Central American and East Asian countries. It is estimated that the developing countries accounts for 84%

of the total HIV infectants.

The lower strata of the society are more prone to HIV due to poverty, illiteracy, lack of access to the proper counseling and medical facilities. Despite the best efforts of NGOs, voluntary, social workers, people living in villages are oblivious of the dreaded effects of the AIDS. The most common mode of AIDS transmission is through sexual intercourse, when one of the partners is HIV positive. It can be transmitted from a mother to her infant in the womb, though the chances are 25%. Transmission of the disease by HIV contaminated blood transfusion is also common. Illiterate and ignorant people treat AIDS as a retribution and ostracize the affected people. So add to HIV patient woes, they are driven away from their homes and jobs and all social  bonds are delinked. Indian women are the worst affected, for they have to strive to succeed as mothers, wives despite being bed-ridden. In most of the cases they are excommunicated and left to die. These social trends and behaviors make the AIDS more horrendous, more dreaded. India has launched a national campaign to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The Prime Minister inaugurated the first ever national convention of the elected representatives on HIV/AIDS in New Delhi on July 26,2003. The two

days convention was organized by the newly formed parliamentarians forum on HIV/AIDS in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and UNAIDS. The Prime Minister called for greater openness in the community. He wanted the younger to be more enlightened about AIDS so that they could protect themselves and the community as a whole. He emphasized the need to ensure that there was no prejudice towards those affected by the disease. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, leader of opposition, who deliverer keynote address, called for efforts to provide AIDS education to adolescent girl both? school going and those out of school and for measures to include drug therapy as part

of the national AIDS control programme.                                    i

Mr. Peter Plot, executive director of UN AlDS, emphasized the need for special efforts to address the problem of stigma and discrimination faced by HIV patients, Humanity has rarely witnessed as dreaded a scourge as AIDS. As of today, there no cure for AIDS. So by imbibing the maxim: 'Prevention is better than cure' and as such educating the public about the ways and modes of transmission of this horrendous disease. We may hope to check the rampaging HIV.


I. Immunefree, exempt, unaffected by, resistant, invulnerable. 2. unravel—clear up, disclose, resolve. 3. victim—prey, sacrifice. Immolate on, sufferer. 4. succumbedsub:'.. surrender, accede. 5. diagnosis—analysis, determination, investigation. 6. opportunistic    1 aspiring, enterprising, emulous, hopeful, zealous- 7. Adduced –suggest offer put  forward, move. set forth. 8. lesionswound, tumor, sore. 9. symptoms —characteristics

diagnostic. 10. antibodies—immunizer, neutralize!-, immune response or defense II. rashes—precipitate, impetuous, impulsive, foolish, hotheaded. 12. induce—persuade. convince, coax. 13. mucousdrool, rheum, mucous, spit. 14. fragile—frail, delicate;. 1 breakable, frangible, friable, brittle. 15. cervicalof the neck or a cervix'. 1

16. seroconvert—the process of producing antibodies in response to a specific antigen I 17. rampaging— turmoil, uproar, ferment. 18. horrendous— horrible, frightful, terrifying.

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