Archive for the ‘HIV AIDS’ Category

What is AIDS? The Causes and How to Treat Effectively Against HIV

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), a serious disease caused by a virus that lowers the body’s natural protection against infection of other diseases, is known as one of the most dangerous epidemic diseases in the 20th century. According to the WHO report in July 2008, more than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981, and there were 33 million people infected with AIDS in 2007 (Worldwide HIV & AIDS Statistics, 2008). This statistic is really alarming, and the percentage of AIDS infection continues to increase more rapidly if people have no interest in AIDS. Therefore, understanding what causes AIDS, how to treat it, and how to control the spread of this disease is really necessary.

In 1981, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discovered the cause of AIDS is HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). Study shows that HIV originated in chimpanzees – animals like a large monkey without tail – in West Africa; it transmitted to humans through their infected blood when they hunted these animals for food (HIV/AIDS – Basic Information, 2008). After attacking the human body, HIV destroys CD4+ T cells, “a kind of white blood cell or leukocyte that play an important role in establishing and maximizing the capabilities of the immune system” (T helper cell, n.d.), and weakens the immune system. When CD4+ T count reduces into low level, HIV infection becomes AIDS; at this stage, the human body is not able to fight disease; and diseased individuals linger to death. After close to 30 years from its first identification in the early 1980s, AIDS treatment as well as vaccine has not been found, and AIDS has developed into a dangerous epidemic disease.

HIV exists in blood, seminal or vaginal fluid, amniotic fluid, etc of infected people, causes AIDS; and it is spread through 3 main ways. The first type of AIDS transmission is having sex with someone living with the HIV virus. In this type, HIV is transmitted among partners through unprotected sexual intercourse such as anal, vaginal, and oral sex. According to CDC’s statistics in 2005, people being infected with HIV through heterosexual contact account for 80 percent of newly diagnosed infections (HIV/AIDS among Women, 2008); this rate is too high when compared with other infectious types and reminds people of sexual safety. The second type of transmission is using the same needles or syringes with an HIV patient when injecting drugs, steroids, etc. This way, HIV breaks into the blood directly and develops swiftly in the host. Likewise, being contaminated with the blood of someone who suffering AIDS also makes people infected with this dangerous virus. Lastly, mothers can transmit HIV to their infants directly or to their babies through breast feeding. AIDS killed more than 330 million children in 2007; most of them died because of mother-to-child HIV infection (AIDS, n.d.). Spreading quickly and easily by means of unsafely sexual contact, blood-borne pathogen and mother-to-child infection, HIV has become global epidemic disease; thus, finding a remedy for AIDS is very urgent.

Up to now, scientists have not found real effective cures for the AIDS disease; however, there are some methods being tested and under trial. The most typical AIDS treatment is using antiretroviral drugs – a class of drugs which inhibit the ability of HIV to attack the immune system. However, the effectiveness of these drugs has only a transient treatment because HIV gradually mutates and becomes resistant to the drugs they encounter. Therefore, a new treatment, various combinations of antiretroviral drugs, is recommended. This method which “consists of highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART” (AIDS, n.d.) constrains HIV to mutate and reduces resistance of HIV to the drugs, and is more effective than the old one. Nevertheless, patients who are undergoing therapy with this new method of AIDS treatment must obey a highly disciplined schedule in taking drugs. Otherwise, it causes many unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, fatigue and malaise (AIDS, n.d.). The current AIDS therapies are not really successful; they just help to delay the development of the disease, and prolong the life of HIV patients. For this reason, scientists are trying their best to research more effective methods to treat the AIDS disease. In 1996, “researchers found that some white people have genes that may protect them from HIV, regardless of how many times they are exposed to the virus” (Wexler, 2008, p.87). Although there are no therapies for AIDS, such a discovery will speed up the development of methods to prevent or treat HIV infections more effectively.

AIDS has spread over the world, and the numbers of people infected with HIV has grown continuously; however, the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic can be controlled by means of testing, education and AIDS prevention programs. AIDS is really dangerous because most patients don’t realize they are living with HIV, and transmitting this virus to others. The only way to know whether HIV enters the body is through testing. Nowadays, the methods of HIV antibodies tests are very various such rapid testing, home testing or by other activities: testing people who join military, testing pregnant women and newborns or through health-care workers, etc. Although whether the testing is mandatory cause much controversy, through this way, more and more people are conscious of their HIV status, and decrease the transmission of the AIDS disease. Another kind of limiting globalization of AIDS is to improve education about AIDS, especially to the youth. Most teenagers are infected with HIV through sexual relation and intravenous drugs; they lack of knowledge about HIV transmission as well as condom usage, contraception, etc. In 2005, there are more than 84 hundred people in the age of twenty and twenty nine who have tested positive with HIV antibodies (Basic Statistics, 2009). For this reason, education of HIV/AIDS prevention such as using condom, having safety of sexual relation, injecting drugs, preventing pregnancy, etc needs to be popularized in school and family. Finally, AIDS prevention programs should be organized ubiquitously around the world especially in Africa and developing countries such as China, India, Thailand, and Vietnam where the rate of people living with HIV is very high. While AIDS has not had the therapies, increasing awareness of AIDS, knowing HIV status through testing and developing AIDS prevention programs have made a significant contribution to control the spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Nowadays, the HIV infection level has increased very quickly; the AIDS epidemic has been threatening human life. For this reason, improving the knowledge about the reason of AIDS transmission, the methods of treating it and the way to control its spread deserve to take a great interest of people.

Reference

AIDS. (n.d.). Retrieved June 14, 2009, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aids
Basic Statistics. (2009, February 26). Retrieved June 2009, from CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/basic.htm#hivaidsage
B. Wexler. AIDS/HIV, (pp. 15-26). Definition, Symptoms, And Transmittal. (2008). Information Plus Reference Series Detroit: Gale Retrieved June 20, 2009, from Gale Virtual Reference Library via Gale: http://go.galegroup.com/ps/start.do?p=GVRL&u=lincclin_spjc
B. Wexler. AIDS/HIV, (pp. 73-90). HIV/AIDS Costs And Treatment. (2008). Information Plus Reference Series Detroit: Gale Retrieved June 23, 2009, from Gale Virtual Reference Library via Gale: http://go.galegroup.com/ps/start.do?p=GVRL&u=lincclin_spjc
HIV/AIDS – Basic Information. (2008, September 3). Retrieved June 16, 2009, from CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/basic/index.htm
HIV/AIDS among Women. (2008, August 3). Retrieved June 15, 2009, from CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/women/resources/factsheets/women.htm
T helper cell. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2008, from Wikipedia – The free encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T_helper_cell
Worldwide HIV & AIDS Statistics. (2008). Retrieved June 17, 2009, from Averting HIV and AIDS: http://www.avert.org/worldstats.htm

Seniors Living With HIV / AIDS

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Whatever happened to dying of old age, natural causes, or of a more common disease known to mankind? There is another crisis amidst the world today and it involves our senior citizens. HUH? How can this happen, why, when, where? These are all the questions that many ask, when they encounter someone who is over 50+ living with AIDS. There are so many reasons why older people are infected with this soul stripping, immunity weakening disease.

In general, the new numbers of citizens living with AIDS contribute to the wonderful advances medicine has made in prolonging the life of someone with Aids. There are people that were diagnosed over twenty years ago with the disease, but are still living. Longer life expectancy is the biggest contributing factor to our numerical equation of seniors living with Aids.

On the other hand, senior women give up using any form of protection because they have been through menopause. There is no chance to get pregnant now, so to many; the use of a condom is irrelevant. Other women feel awkward using a condom, so they never bother. If older men contract the disease it can be considered that they are participating in a gay lifestyle, that they are not protecting themselves while having sex, or a drug addict. Both sexes feel that using protection is unnecessary because they are ‘wiser’ and much older and out of harms way in regards to the disease. It is the ‘Young folk’ that are out here making the world nasty and unsafe is what some seniors think in regards to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

This is where another problem arises. Most seniors feel lonely. Their family members don’t come around that often and the loss of company and social involvement overcomes them. The need to be around someone or to have a companion becomes a constant need in their life. Most people prey on the elderly for their benefits, which could be their homes, cars or cash. Now there are predators that prey on the elderly for sex. There is an outbreak of sex crimes being committed against the elderly. Whether it is forced or casual by acquaintance, the scar is one that can never heal because it has been infected with HIV. Many seniors applaud the first sign of a stranger wanting to spend time with them, for whatever reason. From there a relationship can sprout and the unthinkable happens.

Seniors must be educated and updated on all the current events in the health field. The the task of identifying HIV in seniors is very hard to do because the many signs of aging (cold, cough, tiredness, dementia, weight loss, and swollen lymph glands) mimic the signs and symptoms of HIV. This is where the importance of informing the physician of their sexual activity (whether they feel the doctor wants to hear it or not) when making their routine doctor visits.

Family can help as well, by looking in on their loved ones more often and making every attempt to check in on their physical health as well. Make sure you take them to all doctor visits and make sure you make a list of health complaints in preparation for their Doctor visit. Sometimes, if the ailment is not causing any physical discomfort; they will forget to mention that nagging side pain, or sudden mental status change. It’s like going backwards in time where you would have to teach them like teenagers, or maybe even children ( depending on mental status) by checking who has been hanging around them and making sure their behavior is not deemed ‘RISKY.’

Living with HIV

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

A life in the day of an HIV infected individual cannot be easy, though not many people realize what it is like to be related, and be the support chain for that individual. Raising two small children, having a husband in the military and tending to the day to day lives in the household is a harsh reality. Yet when one is faced with a life changing illness, it throws your life into a spin which you can sometimes feel like you will never escape.

We found out shortly after this close relative moved in that he was HIV positive. It was a shock to behold, for we have two young boys in the household who do not understand things like that. Death is something we rarely spoke about, and now we were faced with the dilemma of explaining that certain things couldn’t be done. How do you explain to a three year old that he cannot use a toothbrush? You can’t, therefore you must take certain precautions to keep from another tragedy forming.

We explain that certain germs, and illnesses such as the cold can be transferred through body fluids, so the boys now have a slight grasp on the reality of the nature, but they do not know the extent of the illness out wonderful relative has. One way we have come to look at this, is that every day is a blessing, not a curse waiting for the inevitable. One does not wake up in life and say I think I am HIV positive. It is a terrifying ordeal to take on.

We have gotten used to putting things away so that the children cannot access them. As well we make an adventure out of every day, every action. Though it is not easy. Each illness such as a common cold, or even a cough must be guarded and watched very closely to be certain that it is not something growing further. There are good days, and then there are bad days. Though even through the bad days we find a way to surge onward and be thankful for having one another even for the time we do.

Perhaps it is because I lost my sister to cancer that I realize that death does not discriminate in any way, shape, or form. Though also, one must keep in mind. HIV is no longer a death sentence.. It is a life sentence, a reason to live life the way you wish, to take not one breath for granted, because we travel through this life unknowing what could happen the very next minute. Each breath we take is a gamble that our lungs will continue to expand and accept the oxygen we breath in.

What I wish you to know, is that people who have been diagnosed with these illnesses, a plague of sorts, are still people. They still need love, emotion, and support. Some have made choices leading to the diagnosis. Others, attained the virus or illness through other means. People should not be treated as an illness, if you know someone who is ill, someone who is hurting, or even looks down. Offer them a smile, a handshake, or even a hug. Just let them know that someone cares for them.

Just being there for a person can sometimes be the best and greatest blessing you can provide.

HIV/AIDS and Teens: Are You or a Loved One at Risk?

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

One of the best series of information that I have found has been made available by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They have issued a series of articles titled “Tips for Teens” on a number of topics having to do with problems teens often face especially with respect to peer pressure. I have written articles on pot, heroin, smoking and alcohol to name just a few. There are only two left in this wonderful series and this one is HIV/AIDS.

HIV/AIDS has been mistakenly tagged a “gay thing.” It’s true that there are many gays with the condition but that doesn’t mean just because you do not participate in that lifestyle you cannot get it.

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus that weakens the body’s defense system. AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Simply put it weakens the body’s ability to fight illness.

The illness is most often spread through anal, vaginal and oral sex but can also be spread mother to baby and by shared needles as with heroin.

When you are young you are constantly battling judgment. It is hard. So many decisions are made on the spur of the moment. People are most at risk for HIV/AIDS when no condom is used during any form of sex. Yet in the heat of the moment few people will stop.

This brings about the danger of the use of pot and alcohol. While each brings on its own type of dangers, the greatest danger is losing your ability to use good judgment and have sex with no condom or shoot up drugs with a shared needle.

While abstinence is the best defense, the next best thing is to have sex with the same partner along with a latex condom.

It may seem like every person is having unprotected sex but they are not. As more and more people become aware of the circumstances surrounding HIV/AIDS, they will be and are being more careful.

When you are around people especially those who would try to have sex with you watch for weight loss, sweatiness, lack of energy, swollen lymph glands, short-term memory loss as well as severe herpes infections. These are key signs but not all the signs and they are good signs for parents to watch for as well.

A couple of additional facts include you cannot get the illness from casual fluid like sweat. Further, just because you find you may have the illness that doesn’t mean there is no hope so don’t just go out and live that lifestyle. That is the most important time to seek help.

Sometimes a person is gay and doesn’t seek help because of the fear of parental retribution or societal rejection. Neither of those issues is worth dying for.

No illness requires understanding and support like HIV/AIDS. It literally can be the difference in life and death.

References:
“Tips For Teens: HIV/AIDS,” Fact Sheet, 2008, SAMHSA
SAMHSA’S Health Information Network, 1-877-726-4727

HIV/AIDS

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Why a Paper on Discrimination?

An Epidemic of Stigma

Ten years ago, in 1988, Gregory Herek and Eric Glunt described the public reaction to AIDS in the United States as an epidemic of stigma. This figure of speech has turned out to be more appropriate than one would wish, for in many ways the stigma of HIV/AIDS has had an even wider reach and a greater effect than the virus itself. The stigma of HIV/AIDS affects the lives not only of people with HIV/AIDS, but also of their lovers, families, and caregivers. It involves not only those who are the objects of stigma, but also those who stigmatize them, whether by their attitudes or their actions, in the community, on the job, in professional capacities, in public office or in the media. It adds new prejudices to old, and transfers the accumulated effects of these prejudices from one group of people to another. In fact, it leaves no one untouched, affecting both those who readily associate with the stigmatized and those who would prefer not to associate with them.

This epidemic of stigma has consequences. It can result in attitudes and actions that may prevent those who are living with HIV/AIDS from seeking or obtaining the health care and social support they require. Adults with HIV/AIDS have lost their jobs or been denied employment, insurance, housing, and other services. Children with HIV/AIDS have been denied day care. Because of their beliefs and values, people have been disposed not to provide information about preventing the transmission of HIV, and have supported laws and policies that render the stigmatized more vulnerable to HIV infection.

Precisely because protecting people from discrimination – both discrimination based on HIV status and discrimination based on other characteristics, such as sexual orientation – was seen to be integral to preventing the spread of HIV and providing appropriate care and support to people with HIV, many countries, including Canada, committed themselves to protecting the human rights of people with or affected by HIV/AIDS.

For people with HIV/AIDS, some of the more painful or burdensome aspects of the way they are treated have to do either with treatment that is either not actionable under law (such as HIV-related stigma) or with treatment that is legal (such as denial of disability insurance). While it may be difficult or impossible to seek legal redress for these forms of discrimination, it is important to acknowledge their impact and to pursue other ways of preventing them or compensating for them.