Aids 5

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AIDS Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, is a recently recognized disease. It is caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). AIDS is a complicated illness that may involve several phases. It is caused by a virus that can be passed from person to person. AIDS impairs the human body's immune system--the system is responsible for warding off disease--and leaves the victim susceptible to various infections. AIDS was first conclusively identified in the United States in 1981, when 189 cases were reported to the Centers for Disease Control. Within a decade the disease had spread to virtually all populated areas of the world. In the United States alone there are about 65,000 new cases every year. The origin of the AIDS virus is uncertain, but it may have originated in Central Africa. The first AIDS patients in the Americas and Europe were almost exclusively male homosexuals. Later patients included those who used unsterilized intravenous needles to inject drugs; hemophiliacs (persons with a blood-clotting disorder) and others who had received blood transfusions; females whose male sexual partners had AIDS; and the children of parents with AIDS. However since 1989, heterosexual sex was found to be the fastest growing means of transmission of the virus, with 90 percent of the new cases coming from heterosexual sex. How AIDS Is Spread AIDS is transmitted by direct of the bloodstream with body fluids that contains the AIDS virus, particularly blood and semen from an HIV-infected person. The virus is usually transmitted through various forms of sexual intercourse, the transfusion of virus-contaminated blood, or sharing in HIV-contaminated intravenous needles. The AIDS virus cannot enter intact bodily surfaces, such as skin, and quickly perishes outside the human body. AIDS is not spread by casual physical or by sneezing. The virus has been found in tears and saliva, but it is there in such low amounts that transmission from these body fluids is extremely rare. There are no known cases of AIDS transmission by insects or by domestic animals. Studies show that the virus is usually passed to an infant close to or during delivery. Recently infected mothers can transmit the virus to their kids through breast milk. Detection and Treatment Following infection with HIV, an individual may show no symptoms at all or may develop small illnesses. The period between initial infection and the development of AIDS is currently varying between six months and eleven years. Usually, when the AIDS virus enters the bloodstream. the body's immune system produces antibodies to fight the microorganisms. Blood tests can detect these antibodies and therefore can show exposure to the virus. However, these tests sometimes give wrong readings and only begin giving correct information within two weeks to three months after infection. Scientists do not know exactly how the AIDS virus damages the immune system, they also do not understand why the natural antibodies developed to destroy the virus are not effective. By 1987 the drug azidothymidine (AZT) had proved effective in slowing the reproduction of the HIV virus in humans, but it is highly toxic and cannot be taken by many patients. In 1989 researchers determined that lower doses of AZT would be effective and less harmful for patients that have early symptoms of AIDS and for kids with AIDS. Dideoyinsine (DDI) was approved in the United States in 1991 for the treatment if HIV infection. This drug is a useful replacement for AZT and is used in kids and other patients for who AZT is too toxic. In 1992 zalcitabine, or DDC, became the third approved drug to treat people infected with the AIDS virus. It was, however, approved for use only in combination with AZT to treat adults with advanced HIV infection. Several other drugs and treatments have been approved to treat P. carinii pneumonia, Kaposi's sarcoma, and other AIDS- related conditions. Several vaccines against AIDS are being developed and tested. Efforts at Prevention Since there is no cure for AIDS education and risk reduction remain the most powerful tool in the fight against AIDS. Because there is only a few ways of transmitting AIDS, the further spread of AIDS could virtually be stopped by avoiding behaviors that put a person at risk. Education can help to achieve this. There are several ways to reduce the spread of AIDS through sexual . These include practicing abstinence--no sex--or practicing safe sex. Practicing safe sex means by having sex with one person in which both people are free of HIV, or using a latex condoms whenever engaging in sex. In March 1983 the major U.S. blood-banking organizations started procedures to reduce the likelihood of HIV transmission by asking people at increased risk of AIDS to stop donating blood. They expanded screening procedures so that people with a history if risky behavior or with symptoms of AIDS could not give blood. What Happens After Infection Most people recently infected look and feel healthy. In some people the virus may remain inactive, and these people are carriers, they seem healthy but are still able to infect others. After a few years, some people may develop AIDS-related complex, or ARC. Its symptoms include fever, fatigue, weight loss, skin rashes, a fungal infection in the mouth known as thrush , lack of resistance to infections,

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