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Aids Sign up now for a free trial. Date Smarter! AIDS “Somewhere among the million children who go to New York’s publicly financed schools is a seven-year-old child suffering from AIDS. A special health and education panel had decided, on the strength of the guidelines issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control, that the child would be no danger to his classmates. Yet, when the school year started on September 9th, several thousand parents in two school districts in the borough of Queens kept their children at home. Fear of plague can be as pernicious, and contagious, as the plague itself(Fear of dying 1).” This article was written in 1985. Since then much has been found out about AIDS. Not enough for a cure though.

There probably will be no cure found in the near future because the technology needed is not available. AIDS cases were first identified in 1981,in the United States. Researchers have traced cases back to 1959. There are millions of diagnosed cases worldwide, but there is no cure(Drotman 163). There are about a million people in the United States who are currently infected with HIV(HIV/AIDS 1). It infects the population heavily in some areas of the country and very lightly in other areas.

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No race, sex, social class, or age is immune(AIDS Understanding 10). AIDS has killed more americans than the Vietnam War, which killed 58,000(AIDS Understanding 10). AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Acquired means that it is not hereditary or introduced by medication. Immune indicates that it is related to the body’s system that fights off disease. Deficiency represents the lack of certain kinds of cells that are normally found in the body. Syndrome is a group of symptoms and signs of disordered function that signal the diagnoses(Hyde 1).

You don’t catch AIDS, you catch HIV. HIV is the virus that leads to AIDS. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency virus. HIV severely damages a person’s disease fighting immune system. There are two viruses that cause AIDS.

They belong to a group called retroviruses. The first virus is HIV-1. It was isolated by researchers in France in 1983, and in the U.S. in 1984. In 1985, the second one was identified by scientists in France.

It is closely related to HIV-1. It is called HIV-2. HIV-2 mainly occurs in Africa but HIV-1 occurs throughout the world(Drotman 163). There are three stages of the infection. The first stage is acute retroviral syndrome and asymptomatic period. This is the flulike or mononucleosislike illness that most people get within 6-12 weeks after becoming infected.

It usually goes away without treatment. From this point on the person’s blood tests positively for HIV. The second stage is symptomatic HIV infection. This is when the infected person’s symptoms show up. It can last anywhere from a few months to many years. The third and final stage is AIDS.

This is when the immune system is severally damaged and the opportunistic diseases set in. The progressive breakdown of the immune system leads to death, usually within a few years. HIV causes a severe “wasting syndrome.” A general decline in the health and in some cases, death. The virus infects the brain and the nervous system. It may cause dementia, a condition of sensory, thinking, or memory disorder.

Infection of the brain may cause movement or coordination problems(Drotman 164). HIV can be present in the body for two to twelve years without any outward sign of illness. It can be transmitted to another person even if no symptoms are present(Drotman 164). When HIV picks up speed, a variety of symptoms are possible. The symptoms include unexplained fever, fatigue, diarrhea, weight loss, enlarged lymph glands, loss of appetite, yeast infections of the mouth and vagina, night sweats lasting longer than several weeks, breathing difficulties, a dry cough, sore throat caused by swollen glands, chills, and shaking(Quackenbush 23). Pink or purple, flat or raised blotches or bumps occurring under the skin, inside the mouth, nose, eyelids or rectum are also symptoms.

They resemble bruises, but don’t disappear. They are usually harder than the skin around them. White spots or unusual blemishes in the mouth is another symptom(Quackenbush 24). There are two illnesses that commonly affect AIDS patients. One is a type of pneumonia called pneumocystis carinii. The other one is a type of cancer called kaposi’s sarcoma, which attacks the skin(What are HIV/AIDS 1).

Pneumocystis carinii is a yeast infection in the esophagus. It causes severe pain when swallowing which results in weight loss and dehydration. It is the leading cause of death among AIDS patients. Kaposi’s sarcoma are tumors that look like bruises, but grow. These two diseases plus many other are called opportunistic diseases.

For decades cases declined in the U.S. until the mid-1980’s. Since the mid-80’s cases are growing especially in HIV infected people. People with AIDS eventually contract atleast one of the opportunistic diseases. These are the diseases that AIDS patients usually die from(Drotman 164).

HIV is transmitted three ways. One way is through unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex. The most risky is anal sex because the anus doesn’t stretch. Therefore, it is easier for the skin to tear and bleed. This makes it easier for the infection to get into the bloodstream.

It can get soaked up by the mucous membranes that line the vagina, rectum, hole in the tip of the penis, mouth, and the throat(Johnson 17). The second way is through direct contact with infected blood. There are a couple ways of getting it through direct contact with infected blood. One way is by sharing a hypodermic needle with someone who is infected. A tiny drop of infected blood stays inside the needle and syringe. So if a person uses it he or she is actually shooting the infected blood directly into his or her bloodstream.

That little droplet of infected blood is enough to give you HIV. Sharing needles for skin-popping can spread HIV in the same way. This way a person is more likely to get infections such as abscesses. A person can also get HIV from sharing other drug “works” with someone who is infected. Containers or cookers such as spoons or bottle caps, crackpipes, cotton, or water for dissolving drugs or rinsing syringes are some of the “works.” It doesn’t matter what a person is shooting in the needle-heroin, cocaine, speed, steroids, insulin, or any other drug.

If a person shares a needle or “works” with someone who has HIV, he or she could get infected too(Johnson 20). Another way is through a blood transfusion. Chances of getting HIV through a blood transfusion in the U.S. are now very low, but still possible. Testing began in 1985, of all blood and plasma that is donated.

The tests that doctors use are over 99% accurate. Blood is destroyed if signs of the virus show up in the donated blood. Therefore, it is almost impossible to get infected through a blood transfusion. Before 1985, some people became infected through infected blood and certain blood products. In the U.S. every piece of equipment used to draw blood is brand new.

It is only used once and then it is destroyed. Therefore it is impossible for a donor to get HIV from giving plasma or blood(HIV/AIDS 2). The third way of getting HIV is an infected woman transmitting it to her fetus or baby. A pregnant woman with HIV can pass the virus to her child before or after birth. The way this happens is the fetus gets nourishment from its mother through the placenta and the umbilical cord.

That is one of the ways. The other way is through breast feeding(Johnson 24). The only way to stem the spread of infection remains the public health approach, educating people on how to avoid infection or educating the infected people on how to avoid infecting someone else. There are many ways to prevent the transmission and spread of AIDS. A person has to be aware, because most people who are infected don’t know they are(Nichols 3). One way to prevent infection is to not engage in the act of sexual intercourse with anyone who is or might be infected.

If someone is going to , then he or she should atleast use a latex condom. It is medically proven that latex condoms can help to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. HIV can not pass through the intact rubber film. It is almost impossible to catch the virus if the condom is used properly. This means using a good quality condom, one with the kite mark, with a spermicide. The condom itself can kill the virus(HIV/AIDS 2). Condoms don’t completely eliminate the risk of being infected because they can tear, break, or slip off.

Birth control pills and diaphragms will not protect a person or his or her partner from getting HIV either(HIV/AIDS 4). Drug users should seek professional help to stop doing drugs. They should never share hypodermic needles, syringes, or other injection equipment. Azidothymidine, commonly known as AZT, may reduce the risk of an infected woman transmitting it to her fetus or baby. Also, infected women should not breast feed their infants, since HIV can be present in the breast milk of an infected woman(Drotman 164). There are a number of things that a person can not get HIV from, that people are skept …


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