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Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

AIDS, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, HIV, STD, CD4+

Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a pandemic disease which has engulfed 25 million people since it revealed in 1981. Pattern of deaths due to this disease shows that this is the most devastating epidemics in the recent history. As per WHO statistic, 2.4-3.3 million succumbed to death due to AIDS in 2005 alone, out of which 570,000 were children. There are 38.6 million people living with this disease world wide. This figure does not include those who are carrier. These are going to add up another list of patients. The major death tolls are reported from Sub-Saharan African country which establishes the fact that disease has its origin from this region and spread throughout the world.

The stigma attached with the disease is perhaps more dangerous than the disease itself. Patient with this disease are subjected to the treatment of untouchable by society, care givers and volunteers. However, the disease does not transmit by touch or aerial root. The most recent treatment for AIDS has been antiretroviral therapy. But this therapy by and large is very expensive and for most of the AIDS patient who are in underdeveloped and developing country, this is out of their reach. Some of the human lives that is getting longer span of survival is because of the noble work being carried out by UNAIDS and WHO. These agencies not only provide the treatment support but also education and prevention support through the network of NGOs around the globe especially in most potential region.

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS or Aids) is a disease which has symptoms and infections that damages the immune system specifically. This is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The late stage of the disease makes individual susceptible to opportunistic infections and that may lead to death. Although treatments for AIDS exist which normally slows down the progression of HIV virus in the body, but there is no known cure available so far. HIV is transmitted through direct contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream with a bodily fluid containing HIV, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-seminal fluid, and breast milk. Transmission can also come in the form of anal, vaginal or oral sex, blood transfusion, contaminated hypodermic needles, exchange between mother and baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding, or other exposure to one of the above bodily fluids.

HIV is the cause of AIDS manifestation in the human beings and it is a retrovirus that primarily infects and damages the human immune system, such as reduction in CD4+ T cells (a subset of T cells), macrophages and dendritic cells in the host blood. It directly and indirectly destroys CD4+ T cells. CD4+ T cells that is most vital for immune system and fights against the foreign micro organisms. When HIV kills CD4+ T cells and the volume drops down to the level of 200 CD4+ T cells per microliter (µL) of blood, cellular immunity is lost, which leads to the condition called AIDS. Acute HIV infection progresses over time to clinical latent HIV infection and then to early symptomatic HIV infection and later to AIDS, which is identified on the basis of the amount of CD4+ T cells in the blood and the presence of certain infections.

In the absence of antiretroviral therapy, the average time of progression of HIV is nine to ten years, and the average survival time after developing AIDS is only 9.2 months. However, the rate of clinical disease progression varies widely between individuals, from two weeks up to 20 years. Many factors affect the rate of progression such as age of the person, general health condition, immune function, and genetic inheritance. HIV is genetically variable and exists in form of different strains, which cause different rates of clinical disease progression among different individuals. The use of highly active antiretroviral therapy prolongs both the average time of progression to AIDS and the average survival time.

The symptoms of AIDS are primarily the result of conditions that do not normally develop in individuals with healthy immune systems. Most of these conditions are infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that are normally controlled by the elements of the immune system that HIV damages. Opportunistic infections are common in people with AIDS. HIV affects nearly every organ system. People with AIDS also have an increased risk of developing various cancers such as Kaposi's sarcoma, cervical cancer and cancers of the immune system known as lymphomas.

Most of the HIV infection spread through unprotected sexual relationship between partners, one of whom has HIV. Unprotected receptive sexual acts are found to be riskier than unprotected insert sexual acts. The risk of transmitting HIV from an infected partner to an uninfected partner through insert anal intercourse is greater than the risk of transmission through vaginal intercourse or oral sex.
During a sexual act, only male or female condoms can reduce the chances of infection with HIV and other STDs and the chances of becoming pregnant. The best evidence to date indicates that typical condom use reduces the risk of heterosexual HIV transmission by approximately 80% over the long-term, though the benefit is likely to be higher if condoms are used correctly on every occasion. The effective use of condoms and screening of blood transfusion in North America, Western and Central Europe is credited with contributing to the low rates of AIDS in these regions.

Promotion of condom use has often proved controversial and difficult. The religious groups, most noticeably the Catholic Church, have opposed the use of condoms on religious grounds, and have sometimes seen condom promotion as an affront to the promotion of marriage, monogamy and sexual morality. Defenders of the Catholic Church’s role in AIDS and general STD prevention suggest strong abstinence outside marriage.

HIV and AIDS retard economic growth by destroying human capital. Without proper nutrition, health care and medicine that is available in developed countries, large numbers of people in the developing and under developed countries is falling victim to AIDS. They will not only be unable to work, but will also require significant medical care. The forecast is that this will likely cause a collapse of economies and societies in the region. In some heavily infected areas, the epidemic has left behind many orphans cared for by elderly grandparents.

In spite of the billions of dollars spent on global challenges by the United Nations, the governments of wealthy nations, foundations, charities, and non-governmental organizations, the money spent on problems such as malnutrition and climate change is not sufficient to meet many internationally-agreed targets. The highest priority is now assigned to implementing new measures to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS. The economists estimated that an investment of $27 billion could avert nearly 30 million new infections by 2010. The importance of prevention of AIDS has been recognized by the governments of the nation and international organizations and it has been kept at utmost priority. However, the general awareness about the disease, its transmission and its prevention can greatly reduce the risk of its spread. In an ill informed and uneducated society free speech and communication can help individual know more about the AIDS. The task at hand is to aid more knowledge to curb AIDS.
Published: 2007-01-05
Author: Rama Kant Mishra

About the author or the publisher
I have done Masters in Fisheries Management and have written and published articles on Fisheries, Agriculture, Medical, Pharmaceutical, political, self Improvement and Career. Professionally working for an IT company as a Technical Writer. I love to write and publish and have worked as freelance writer, ghost writer and as special correspondent for print media. You may find me contributing on www.merinews.com and www.groundreport.com You may reach me at mishraramakant@gmail.

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