Since the onset of the HIV/AIDS epidemic 15 years ago, the virus has infected more than 47 million people in the world. With more than 2.2 million deaths in 1998, HIV/AIDS has now become the fourth leading cause of mortality and its impact is going to increase. Over 95% of all cases and 95% of AIDS deaths occur in the developing world, mostly among young adults and increasingly in women.
HIV can be prevented in many ways, but they are not always followed. People die when they don't play it safe. That's why we have to spread the word on prevention. There are three main ways that HIV can be spread:
1. sexual intercourse
2. intravenous drugs
3. blood transfusions (which are very rare now because all blood is tested)
HIV is spreading like wild fire among adolescents because they don't believe it can happen to them. Sixty-one percent of 14-21 year olds are engaged in sexual intercourse. The problem we have to deal with is the spreading of this disease among our generation.
Scientists are trying to develop a cure for the AIDS virus. There are three parts to finding the cure. The three parts are:
1. To devise a drug that will kill the HIV virus once it enters the body.
2. To create a vaccine that would prevent the disease.
3. To educate people world wide about the dangers of AIDS and how to prevent the HIV infection.
In humans, the immune system acts as a line of defense against foreign organisms in the body. Though the immune system functions throughout the body, its production centers from certain key organs in the body.
Various specialized cells are produced by these organs and comprise the immune system. For example:
o B Cells
o T Cells
?Self? From the ?Non-Self?
In order for the body to distinguish the self from the non-self, domestic vs. foreign cells, almost every cell has been built with certain identification tags, MHC markers. Those cells carrying antigens, a ?non-self? tag, are identified by the immune system. This helps insure that the immune system does not accidentally try to harm the body.
Lymphocytes are white blood cells that patrol the body for "non-self" tags. The number of these particular cells in the average body is approximately 1 trillion. T cells and B cells make up the two major categories of lymphocytes.
Originating from bone marrow, B-cells are responsible for the creation of antibodies (see diagram below). Each B-cell creates an antibody, which is specific to an antigen. It is the antibodies that act upon the "non-self" entity by:
* marking the entity for destruction
* directly destroying the foreign organism
* blocking viruses from entering a cell
* making cells vulnerable to white blood cell attacks
T-cells are produced in the thymus. Here they mature and learn how to identify foreign entities that may enter the body. T-lymphocytes can form into...