Imagine the feelings of a terminally ill patient or even a criminal riding on death row. Imagine knowing your expiration date. That alone could destroy someone’s universe. So again, imagine knowing that information and having sickness after sickness drain you to nothing. Lost, crippled, and left for dead, those living with AIDS have a devastatingly tough time crawling through life. Since its’ unfortunate conception, nearly 60 million people have had to face their detailed demise each and every day and some still continue to, but for most, as stated earlier, they are living with the disease, not dying. But not all have been so lucky to outlast the disease; the World Health Organization estimates more than 25 million people have died from the epidemic since its rise. AIDS has become an unfortunate staple in the worlds list of epidemics. And with all of our gained knowledge of the disease, we have come so close to being able to help all who are diagnosed with Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome to live with it as well, not to die from it. Education on the subject not only will be beneficial to those infected, but to everyone. Prevention will save our future societies, and protect the hearts and lives of millions. (UNAIDS)
AIDS, in a straightforward definition, is this ominous ailment that weakens the body’s immune system, leaving it paralyzed and unable to bear arms against foreign, destructive infections. Acquired Immuno 1Deficiency Syndrome is the final stage of a progressive disease known as HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The virus attacks our bodies CD4 cells, or T-cells, which play a major part in our immune system. The T-Helper and the T-Killer cells cannot detect and destroy the pathogen which makes them susceptible to the virus. As invasion begins, it hunts for T-cells to reproduce, kill the original helper cell, and continue the process. If the infection isn’t discovered and nothing is done to subdue the disease, it will become full-blown AIDS. The virus cannot be destroyed, only slowed and there has been no cure found so far, but there are medicines to keep the virus subsided and allow the patients CD4 count stay higher. These medicines sometimes have been combined in a cocktail to create a very effective tool in reducing the amount of HIV particles in the infected bloodstream. But even though these medicines may reduce the reproduction of the virus, the patient is still able to spread infection. And research for new medicines is being conducted right this second. There is still hope. (Dugdale)
The symptoms of this illness are unlike any other. Signs may show as soon as the virus infects, or they can lay dormant, for years even, and symptoms are different in every single victim. Symptoms include extreme fatigue and major respiratory problems. Also, rapid weight loss can occur along with the swelling of the lymph nodes. Flu-like symptoms occur as well, with high fevers, night sweats, persistent diarrhea, and many others. When a patient is very close to losing the battle, their CD4 count is below 350 cells/mm3 and opportunistic diseases begin to appear. Pneumonia, tuberculosis, and certain cancers are among the list of AIDS-indicating disease-like symptoms that occur with end-stage HIV. But not all symptoms are physical. As time progresses, the mental process begins to deteriorate, as well. (Dugdale)(Sowadsky)
AIDS is not a discriminating epidemic. It doesn’t choose who to infect or prefer a certain type; it’s a very open-minded disease, if you will. A few decades ago, when the disease was scary and new and grew to disastrous proportions, frightened citizens conjured up an excuse list of rather ridiculous thoughts. HIV was supposedly punishment for immoral behavior, i.e. homosexuals, and that those who became infected where seen as demonized or criminalized. African Americans became targets of those stereotypes as well. But besides what the stereotypes may say, we all are at risk of contraction. (AVERT)
AIDS in America alone had contributed to nearly 25,000 thousands deaths in 2008 and is the sixth leading cause of death among people between the ages 25 to 44. An estimated 1.4 million are living with HIV in the U.S. Here in America, we have the funding for treatment/prevention centers and rehabilitation facilities, such as the American Foundation for Aids Research and ProjectHope; approximately $15.6 billion in 2008. This figure includes the money spent on education and HIV treatment services. In other countries, these statistics are not as affirming as Americas. The hardest-hit countries include those in the sub-Saharan area of Africa, countries such as Ethiopia, Niger, Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, and Uganda. According to the UNAIDS.org Statistics, 22.4 million people living in these countries are infected, with an estimated 1.4 million deaths occurring from AIDS in 2008. These countries are in serious need of help. 6.7 million of sub-Saharan Africa’s people are in need of antiretroviral therapy (ART) to subside the disease. Unfortunately only 2.9 million are being treated. This has contributed to the 14 million orphaned children in lower Africa, and to the fact that 67% of people, globally, who are infected live in these southern-African countries. 91% of all new infections among the children occur here as well. Is it education these countries need? Is it money? Whatever it may be that’s halting any progress, it’s killing the population here. They need our help and our hope. (UNAIDS)
Those infected with AIDS are deteriorating each and every day from the disease, enduring sickening trials and tribulations. You’d think by now after all that this retrovirus has destroyed we’d be more concerned with protection and prevention. AIDS can be easily warded against; protecting you is the number one thing that needs to be done. The spreading of HIV can occur in a number of ways, like through sexual contact, including anal, oral, and vaginal sex, or as well through blood, generally from intravenous drug users sharing needles and very rarely here in the U.S., blood transfusions and organ transplantations with infected organs. The virus can also be spread from mother to child, either from the conception and growth itself or through nursing, and through artificial inseminations as well, if the donor sperm is contaminated. AIDS cannot be transmitted through things such as hugging, touching a person infected in a general, everyday way, partaking in sports activity, or through mosquitoes. And if we learn to practice safe sex with condoms or abstinence, don’t share needles for any reason, avoid contact with another’s blood, and those who are infected need to be careful as well. Be honest with partners and significant others, and pregnant women who are infected are encouraged not to breast feed and should seek additional help on reducing the risk of transmission to the unborn child. If in turn you take these types of precautions and you are lead to believe you have been in contact with the disease, please be sure to contact your doctor immediately and get tested. The earlier you catch the virus, the easier it is to slow down. (Dugdale)
It’s a devastatingly punishing disease that ransacks the lives of the millions it has broken. Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome has been on blast for years now, calming down the last decade. That calm is because of the progress we have made in treating and preventing the disease. We have come so far in what we knew to what we know now, and with this education we can put a stop to this terror. We can end the killing spree, not let it end us. Prevention, protection, and education will get us through.
Dugdale, David C. “PubMed Health: AIDS.” NCBI. A.D.A.M., 25 May 2010. Web. 14 Feb 2011.
"Global Facts & Figures." UNAIDS.com. World Health Organization, 2009. Web. 14 Feb 2011.
"HIV & AIDS Stigma & Discrimination." AVERT (2010): 1-11. Web. 15 Feb 2011.
“Prevention and Support.” HealthPeople.org, 2004. Web. 13 Feb 2011
Sowadsky, M.S.P.H., Rick. "What Are Opportunistic Diseases?" Body (Jan 2010): Web. 15 Feb