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