AIDS/HIV

The HIV virus poses one of the biggest viral threats to human society today. It
is contracted through bodily fluids such as blood and semen, and sometimes even
saliva and tears. AIDS kills 100% of its victims and puts them through agony
before they die. It has been a threat for about 15 years, and it is not going
to stop now. In fact, AIDS is just getting started: It consumes more people
each year. There is no known treatment for it either, only antibiotics to slow
the reproduction of the virus. HIV is passed from one person to another by
bodily fluids only. It is usually gotten through sexual intercourse or other
intimate contact, through the exchanging of unsterilized intravenous needles, or
by the contact of HIV-infected bodily fluids and an open wound. It cannot
permeate though intact skin, hence it cannot be spread through informal contact.
AIDS has not been found to travel in insects or tame animals. In pregnant women,
the virus only infects the infant near or at the time of birth. The virus dies
quickly without a host.

AIDS (Acquired ImmunoDifficiency Syndrome) weakens the bodyšs immune system so
it is sensitive to infection. The AIDS virus primarily attacks the T
lymphocytes, which are a main part of the immune system. The virus is also
incubated in cells called macrophages, where it is accidentally sent to other,
healthy cells in the body like neurons and lymphatic cells. After HIV is
contracted, the person looks and feels healthy for up to 20 years before
symptoms start occurring. During this time, the person can give the virus to
another even though it cannot be detected by sight or smell. Usually, symptoms
start developing within 1 to 2 years. Typical indications of the virus are
fever, weariness, weight loss, skin rashes, a fungal mouth infection called
thrush, lack of immunity to infection, and enlarged lymph nodes. When AIDS
overtakes the body, the body becomes especially susceptible to tuberculosis,
pneumonia, and a rare form of cancer called Kaposišs Sarcoma. Once AIDS has
fully taken hold, the body may suffer damage to the nerves and brain. The life
expectancy of an AIDS victim after the birth of symptoms is 1 to 5 years. AIDS
was believed to have begun in Central Africa around 1979. Nearly all of the
first AIDS patients were male homosexuals. However, after 1989 90% of all new
cases of AIDS were from heterosexual intercourse. Public awareness rose as
famous people began to die, like Rock Hudson, Perry Ellis, Michael Bennett,
Robert Mapplethorpe, and Tony Richardson. Basketball star Magic Johnson also
reported having AIDS. The approximate number of AIDS cases in the U.S. alone is
65,000 and growing. So far, there is no treatment or vaccination for AIDS. With
most viruses, the body produces antibodies that eventually destroy the virus.
However, with HIV, natural antibodies are completely ineffective. Blood tests
will not give accurate results of infection of HIV until between 2 weeks and 3
months after the initial infection. In 1987, the drug AZT (azidothymidine) had
proved effective in slowing the growth of the virus, but it was lethal in large
doses and some patients could not handle taking it at all. There was a new HIV-
fighting chemical scientists found called DDI (dideoxyinosine) that was not as
harmful to the patient and could be used in AZTšs place for more sensitive
patients. In 1992 DDC (zalcitbine) was found to be useful for delaying the
reproduction of HIV in patients with advanced AIDS, but only in conjunction with
AZT. AIDS is one of an epidemic of super-deadly viruses like Ebola, Hanta Virus,
and Dingae in Puerto Rico. In my opinion, this is naturešs way of fighting back
from overpopulation. However, AIDS is a formidable disease and is a force to be
reckoned with.

Category: Science