AIDS In Detail

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Today, despite the continuing
production of better antibiotics since the discovery of penicillin, we are
facing an infectious disease against which all these drugs are virtually
powerless. This disease is spreading inexorably, killing more people and more
people each year. AIDS does not know no national boundaries and does not
discriminate by race or sex. It is rampaging not only throughout the United

States, but also through Africa, India, China, Russia, Europe, South America,
and the Caribbean countries. Even infants and children are at risk. AIDS is
similar to the bubonic plague or the "BLACK DEATH" that killed perhaps
one-third in Europe in the 14th century. Yet, the difference from the
"Black Death" and AIDS is that it is in slow motion because the
infectious agent that causes AIDS can remain dormant in a person's body for
several years before it causes illness, and because death from AIDS can be slow
and drawn out once symptoms appear. AIDS is essentially a disease of the immune
system. The body's defenses are destroyed and the patient becomes prey to the
infections and cancers that would normally be fought off without any trouble. In

1984 it was proved that AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus
(HIV). A virus is a minute infectious particle that enters and kills the immune
cells, or lymphocytes. Because it destroys the very mechanism humans rely on for
protection, prior to 1996 contracting Aids was considered a death sentence. For
many years, 85 to 90 percent of all AIDS patients died within three years. They
might have recovered from one infection only to succumb to another a few months
later. Between infections they remain weak, emaciated and unable to work or
carry on normal activities. In late 1996, almost 15 years after the first
reported AIDS cases, researchers made the discovery that a certain combination
of newly developed drugs could substantially prolong life in some AIDS patients.

But AIDS is a fiendish virus. When researchers cleared it out of a patient's
bloodstream, it hid in the lymph nodes. Scientists, figured out how to banish it
from the lymph nodes, they found the virus lurking in the brain. Although, there
is hope for a cure because they have done some experiments isolating a gene and
it has had good results in some people infected with AIDS. The area that many
people are concerned is with Southeast Asia-particularly India. At 900 million,

India's population is almost double that sub-Saharan Africa, which, with 13.3
million HIV-positive adults, accounts for 60 percent of the world's total adult
infections. The major reasons for such spread in India and following Africa is
the high rate of their population, poverty rate, and other risk factors all
point to a likely explosion. The number of HIV infections worldwide doubled
between 1991 and 1996-and that number is expected to double again by the year

2000. By the turn of the century, about 44 million people will have fallen
victim to the virus that causes AIDS. The signs of hope do not stop by the
reason of Prevention Programs which they have succeeded in reducing

HIV-infection rates dramatically among young men in Thailand and young women in

Uganda-two of the countries hit hardest by the3 disease. The rate of new
infections have also dropped sharply among gay men in the United States,

Australia, Canada, and western Europe. However, many ingredients of the AIDS
epidemic are still mystery. The cause of AIDS remained uncertain for several
years after its discovery. Even now, there are questions about how efficiently
the AIDS virus spreads, whether it will kill everyone who gets it, and why the
virus is do devastating to the immune system. It's initial spread was in the

United States was among groups that are frowned upon by society-homosexuals and
intravenous(drug users)- AIDS has a stigma associated with it. This makes the
disease difficult to confront rationally. However, people are terrified even by
the word of AIDS. The virus does not get transmitted by any body contact neither
through the air. However, the disease does not pass from one person to another
through the air, by sneezing, on eating utensils, by shaking hands, or through
body contact in sports. There are only four ways it can be spread: through
injection with a needle contaminated with HIV, which it can happen when drug
addicts share needles; by receiving a transfusion of contaminated blood; or-in
the case of infant with an HIV-positive mother-having the virus transmitted
through the placenta before birth, or the mother's milk