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
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