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The Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome Essay

2480 words - 10 pages


The Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) was first identified as a distinct new disease in 1981. In 1983 HIV was identified at the causative agent for AIDS. The mean time from HIV infection to AIDS is approximately 10 years. There is no effective medicine to cure it and the infected individuals do not recover: that is, they continue to be infectious throughout their lives. HIV infection is a complex mix of diverse epidemics within and between countries and regions of the world, and is undoubtedly the defining public health crisis of our time. The AIDS is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It becomes an important infectiousdisease in both the developed and developing countries. AIDS is a fatal disease which destroys the human’s immune system, leaving the victim vulnerable to a host of life threatening infectious, neurological disorders and unusual malignancies. The AIDS epidemic is one of the most destructive health crises of modern times, ravaging families and communities throughout the world. By 2012, more than 36 million people had died, an estimated 75 million were living with HIV. The most common ways in which HIV is spreading throughout the world include (i) sexual intercourse, (ii) sharing contaminated blood products or needles and (iii) by vertical transmission from infected mothers to their new born during pregnancy, labor (the delivery process) or breastfeeding. HIV infection is generally a slow progressive disease in which virus number in the body is a major indicator of the disease stages. In a normally healthy individual’s peripheral blood, the level of CD4+ T-cells is between 800 and 1,200/mm3 and once this number reaches 200 or below in a HIV infected patient, the person is classified as having AIDS. There are three main stages of HIV infection: (i) the initial stage of infection (primary infection), which occurs within weeks of acquiring the virus and often is characterized by a flu or mono like illness that generally resolves within weeks, (ii) the stage of chronic asymptomatic infection, which lasts an average of 8–10 years, (iii) the stage of symptomatic infection in which the body’s immune system has been suppressed and complications have developed, is called the AIDS. Without drug treatment, HIV infection nearly uniformly fatal within 5–10 years and the average survival time after developing AIDS is just 9.2months, while with drug therapies treated individuals can live longer free of HIV related symptoms [48,50]. The goals of drug therapies are to prevent damage to the immune system by the HIV virus and to halt or delay the development of the infection. In fact, worldwide it is estimated that between 250,000 and 350,000 deaths were averted in 2005 as a result of increased treatment access (WHO/UNAIDS 2005). There is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS. The only known methods of prevention are based on avoiding contact with the virus.


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