Infectious Diseases: HIV /AIDS
According to UNAIDS. com “new HIV infections were reduced by 21% since 1997, and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses decreased by 21% since 2005”(“Unaids. org”, n.
d. ). AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) was first discovered in the early 1980s. It was first found only among homosexual men and drug users that shared needles. AIDS is an immune deficiency disease that is caused by a virus known as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). It is transmitted through contaminated body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk ( ).
The virus attacks the CD4 T lymphocytes killing them and while continuing to spread and kill others. This process cripples the immune system making the body susceptible to infections and illnesses that a healthy immune system would be able to control. With a weakened immune system, the body is left open to infections. Since the body’s reactions to an infection results in inflammation, HIV/AIDS patients usually experience chronic inflammation that usually occurs in the lymph nodes and stomach.
Patients that receive Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) are able to receive some relief from inflammation but are not able to eliminate inflammation completely (“Thebodypro. com”, 2010). When HIV/AIDS was first discovered in the early 1980s there was no treatment and no cure. Someone that was diagnosed as HIV positive knew that when AIDS set in they were facing a painful death. As research has progressed through the year’s treatments have been recognized that help to slow down the reproduction of the virus.
According to “Epigee. org” these are known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitors. AZT (Azidothymidine), ddC (zalcitabine), ddl (dideoxyinosine), d4T (stavudine), and Abacavir, are just a few nucleoside RT inhibitors used to treat HIV. Non-nucleoside RT inhibitors such as Delavridine (Rescriptor, Nevirapine (Viramune), and Efravirenz (Sutiva), are also medications used to slow down the virus. Protease inhibitors are used to interrupt the reproduction of the virus in the later stages.
This group of medications includes Ritonavir (Norvir), Saquinivir (Invirase), and Amprenivir (Agenerase) (2012). The fourth and final group of medications currently only has one drug approved for proof. This drug is known as Fuzeon and is a fusion inhibitor that stops the virus from entering the CD4 cells. This action keeps the virus from combining with the cell membranes, but should be used with another form of treatment (2012). Currently there is no cure available to HIV/AIDS patients. The spread of HIV/AIDS has decreased drastically since the beginning.
For the first 15-20 years it was considered an epidemic. By educating people about how the virus is contracted the number of people diagnosed has been on a rapid decline since the early 2000s. The number of AIDS related deaths has also rapidly declined in this time. In this authors opinion the best way to control the spread of this deadly virus is through continuing education of how the disease is spread. Safe sex is a must. People that are promiscuous are at a higher risk of becoming victims of HIV.
State Health Departments throughout the U. S. offer educating pamphlets, and in some instances classes that help to educate people on how to avoid contracting and spreading HIV. Abstinence is the only thing that offers 100% protection from sexually transmitted HIV. Monogamy is the second best way to avoid the spread of HIV. If you have never been infected with HIV and remain faithful to one partner, and your partner has never been infected and remains faithful, there is no chance that you will contract the virus through sexual intercourse.
If you are sexually active with more than one partner, protected sex is the best way to improve your chances of remaining HIV negative. Condoms, though not 100% sure, are the best way to protect someone from being infected with the virus through sexual intercourse. Traditional condoms are used on the penis and protect the participants from contaminated fluids. A new type of condom is currently on the market that is inserted directly into the vagina or rectum. Spermicidal contraceptives protect against pregnancy but not HIV (“Aids. org”, 2012).
Intravenous drug users are also at risk of being infected with HIV. Of course the obvious way to keep from being infected is not to use self administered, illegal, intravenous drugs. Making sure that clean hypodermic needles are used and not shared among other users is imperative for those than continue to use self administered, illegal, intravenous drugs. If only one hypodermic needle is available and you must share this needle with others, using bleach and water to clean both the needle and the syringe is the best way to guard against becoming infected with HIV/AIDS (“Aids. org”, 2012).