Throughout the history of time, there have been diseases that have altered the environment of communities, societies, and the world. Some of these diseases were more catastrophic than others, however all are important to understanding how to prevent and prevail over these illnesses. One of the most preeminent diseases of our world today is the epidemic of AIDS. As a consistent killer throughout the world, AIDS has become an immediate concern to agencies and governments worldwide.
In response, there are numerous international organizations that have been established to learn more about preventing, tracking, and treating the disease. Through extensive research and analysis, AIDS researchers are making gradual breakthroughs to benefit the struggle. However, since there is currently no cure for AIDS, researchers are rapidly searching for any relevant information to prevent the disease from spreading. One of the greatest assets to preventing the spread of AIDS is obtaining a general knowledge of the disease and its effects on today’s society.
The world must acknowledge that understanding, treating, and preventing the spread of AIDS is essential to winning the universal battle against this terminal disease. Even though AIDS is the ultimate killer virus at the forefront of the epidemic, it enters the body in another form. HIV, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is the virus that depletes the immune system and allows AIDS to develop within the body (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). With a depleted immune system, several types of insignificant illnesses can quickly become serious.
Once the immune system is completely compromised by a severe illness or infection, the diagnosis of AIDS can take anywhere from 8-10 years without the help of treatment (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). There are currently treatments to delay the rapid spread of HIV throughout the immune system; however there are no treatments to prevent or stop the disease once it has been contracted. Once HIV has been contracted within the body, there are several symptoms the carrier may experience.
A majority of newly infected HIV hosts do not experience any significant symptoms immediately after they contract the disease (WebMD). This lack of indication is a major reason that HIV spreads so quickly and testing is so important. The absence of knowledge is also why this disease is so dangerous. There are millions of people worldwide living their lives with no clue they are HIV positive. However, as the disease continues to spread, several other symptoms begin to arise. Initially, carriers begin to experience flu-like symptoms, nausea, and slight memory loss.
After the HIV transfers to AIDS, which takes place once there are less than 200 virus fighting cells called CD4 cells, the symptoms become much worse (WebMD). Once the transfer occurs, AIDS can cause fevers, rashes, seizures, severe diarrhea, vision loss, and even increases your susceptibility to cancer (WebMD). Since the immune system becomes so weak throughout the process, the smallest infections or viruses can pose significant health risks to the patient. The patient has no way of defending against these viruses because the infection fighting cells of their body are not there to fight.
As AIDS continues to engulf the globe with disease, there are more and more people who are being affected by it. Here in the United States, there were over 56,300 new HIV infections in 2006 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Yet, the numbers of new infections are only the infections that were reported. There are still thousands of people throughout the nation that are unknowingly HIV positive. Within this HIV incidence, there are several categories of people which are more susceptible than others.
By far the most vulnerable to the disease are “gay and bisexual men who made up more than two thirds (68%) of all men living with HIV in 2005” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Of all the men in the United States to contract the disease, almost 7 out every 10 people were homosexual or bisexual. The reason that homosexual males are more likely to contract HIV is due to “the challenge of maintaining safer-sex behaviors, the assumption that one is HIV-negative, undestimates of personal risk factors, and stigma” (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).
Even though there are many gay men who are aware of this vulnerability, there needs to be a much more universal understanding of the risks in order to protect and prevent the overall population. Beyond the United States, there are several other places in the world where the struggle against AIDS is much more drastic. Throughout the world today, there are over 30. 8 million adults and 2 million children that were HIV positive at the beginning of 2008 (Avert. Org). Consider the number infected with HIV within the United States to the amount worldwide, the comparison is incomprehensible.
In 2007 alone, there were almost 2. 7 million people infected with HIV worldwide (Avert. Org). Now compare the United States’ HIV incidence rate of 56,300 people to the worldwide total of 2. 7 million. This is most likely do to better sanitary conditions and safer sex methods, but it truly reiterates how bad of an epidemic AIDS really is. Moreover, in the same year, there was a recorded 2 million deaths throughout the world due to the AIDS virus (Avert. Org). That is like the entire population of New Mexico being killed by an epidemic within the state boundaries.
People need to realize how serious this epidemic is and understand that just because it is not happening as drastically in the United States, people are dying in massive numbers. As the epidemic on AIDS continues to worsen, there are several factors within society combating this awful disease. Within the realm of medicine, “there are three ways to moderate the effects of an infectious disease: prevent the spread, develop a vaccine, and develop an effective program of treatment” (Slaff 183).
Since there are no vaccines and no effective program of treatment, researchers must focus on preventing the spread of the disease. In order to successfully prevent the disease from spreading, the population must be properly educated about the risks and ways to prevent them. In the United States, the “leading source for sharing information on HIV prevention, counseling, and testing are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The fight against this disease has to start somewhere and the CDC is taking an amazing initiative throughout the United States.
The more people that know about AIDS and how it is affecting the world around, the more people will be there to help support the cause of prevention. Further than just knowledge about the disease, probably the most proactive way to prevent the disease is to get tested. HIV testing methods have become much more sufficient in accuracy and efficiency in recent years. When HIV is contracted into the body, the body starts to produce antibodies to combat the intruding virus (AIDS. Gov). So when doctors test for HIV in
patients, they do not look for the HIV virus itself; they look for the antibodies that are fighting the HIV virus (Aids. Gov). Even though the antibodies cannot combat the virus, their presence shows that a patient is HIV positive and another addition to worldwide statistics. There are several types of these tests in order to decipher whether one has contracted HIV. The three main types of testing are blood testing, oral fluid testing, and urine testing (AIDS. Gov). Whereas blood is the most accurate, all of these tests will be able to uncover the presence of HIV within the body.
Many people believe they are HIV negative and they do not have to worry, but until one gets tested they are at risk like most of the population. The AIDS epidemic has been sweeping the globe and reaching catastrophic highs in the last few years. It is contracted in several different ways, yet every form results in a definitive demise. Two million deaths worldwide in a single year are absolutely tragic, especially considering how many people are dying due to lack of knowledge.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have established an outstanding program and thoroughly contributed to the struggle against AIDS. However, the rest of the world needs to follow suit and become proactive within their society to help stop this epidemic. Life is a beautiful thing and until it has been taken away, one never understands how amazing it is. AIDS is a serious disease and it deserves serious concern from everyone. The world must step forward now and take charge of this disease before it takes charge of the world.