AIDS

Anonymous

"Somewhere among the million children who go to New York's publicly financed schools is a seven-year-old child suffering from AIDS. A special health and education panel had decided, on the strength of the guidelines issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control, that the child would be no danger to his classmates. Yet, when the school year started on September 9th, several thousand parents in two school districts in the borough of Queens kept their children at home. Fear of plague can be as pernicious, and contagious, as the plague itself(Fear of dying 1)." This article was written in 1985. Since then much has been found out about AIDS. Not enough for a cure though. There probably will be no cure found in the near future because the technology needed is not available.

AIDS cases were first identified in 1981,in the United States. Researchers have traced cases back to 1959. There are millions of diagnosed cases worldwide, but there is no cure(Drotman 163). There are about a million people in the United States who are currently infected with HIV(HIV/AIDS 1). It infects the population heavily in some areas of the country and very lightly in other areas. No race, sex, social class, or age is immune(AIDS Understanding 10). AIDS has killed more americans than the Vietnam War, which killed 58,000(AIDS Understanding 10).

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Acquired means that it is not hereditary or introduced by medication. Immune indicates that it is related to the body's system that fights off disease. Deficiency represents the lack of certain kinds of cells that are normally found in the body. Syndrome is a group of symptoms and signs of disordered function that signal the diagnoses(Hyde 1). You don't catch AIDS, you catch HIV. HIV is the virus that leads to AIDS. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency virus. HIV severely damages a person's disease fighting immune system. There are two viruses that cause AIDS. They belong to a group called retroviruses. The first virus is HIV-1. It was isolated by researchers in France in 1983, and in the U.S. in 1984. In 1985, the second one was identified by scientists in France. It is closely related to HIV-1. It is called HIV-2. HIV-2 mainly occurs in Africa but HIV-1 occurs throughout the world(Drotman 163).

There are three stages of the infection. The first stage is acute retroviral syndrome and asymptomatic period. This is the flulike or mononucleosislike illness that most people get within 6-12 weeks after becoming infected. It usually goes away without treatment. From this point on the person's blood tests positively for HIV. The second stage is symptomatic HIV infection. This is when the infected person's symptoms show up. It can last anywhere from a few months to many years. The third and final stage is AIDS. This is when the immune system is severally damaged and the opportunistic diseases set in. The progressive breakdown of the immune system leads to death, usually within a few years.

HIV causes a severe "wasting syndrome." A general decline in the health and in some cases, death. The virus infects the brain and the nervous system. It may cause dementia, a condition of sensory, thinking, or memory disorder. Infection of the brain may cause movement or coordination problems(Drotman 164).

HIV can be present in the body for two to twelve years without any outward sign of illness. It can be transmitted to another person even if no symptoms are present(Drotman 164). When HIV picks up speed, a variety of symptoms are possible. The symptoms include unexplained fever, fatigue, diarrhea, weight loss, enlarged lymph glands, loss of appetite, yeast infections of the mouth and vagina, night sweats lasting longer than several weeks, breathing difficulties, a dry cough, sore throat caused by swollen glands, chills, and shaking(Quackenbush 23). Pink or purple, flat or raised blotches or bumps occurring under the skin, inside the mouth, nose, eyelids or rectum are also symptoms. They resemble bruises, but don't disappear. They are usually harder than the skin around them. White spots or unusual blemishes in the mouth is another symptom(Quackenbush 24).

There are two illnesses that commonly affect AIDS patients. One is a type of pneumonia called pneumocystis carinii. The other one is a type of cancer called kaposi's sarcoma, which attacks the skin(What are HIV/AIDS 1). Pneumocystis carinii is a yeast infection in the esophagus. It causes severe pain