Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, also known as AIDS is a disease that gradually attacks breaks down the human immune system that starts out with the virus called HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus. AIDS makes it impossible for the people suffering with the disease to fight off simple infections and viruses that normal, healthy individuals wouldn’t be affected by. It’s not the virus that actually kills the individual, it’s the small scale outside infections, tumors, and viruses that kills the person because the AIDS virus destroys that person’s immune system, which is the only defense we have against viruses.
Scientists and researchers have been puzzled with the AIDS virus since it began in the 1980s— and it’s still a topic of fierce debate. Debate causes have brought up from a promiscuous flight attendant to a suspect vaccine program being blamed. Then, suddenly, homosexual men started to come down with the disease— their rare opportunistic infects and cancers seemed extremely subborn and were completely resistant to any treatment the doctors attempted (http://www. unaids. org …). At this time, the HIV and AIDS viruses were not known at all, it didn’t even have a name and doctors were baffled.
The discovery came shortly after this time. Some were actually resistant to acknowledge the connection of HIV and AIDS, and shockingly some are still resistant today, but clear evidence is evident now, and man-kind knew it was necessary that we needed to start looking for the origin of HIV to find out how to stop it. HIV is something known as a lentivirus, which is a virus that directly attacks and attempts to break down the immune system of the being it’s attacking. The term ‘lentivirus’ is literally defined as ‘slow virus’ because of the long stretch of time that the virus needs to have adverse effects in the body (http://www.unaids. org …).
These types of viruses have been found in a few different types of animals in including, cattle, horses, sheep, and cats. Interestingly enough, the investigation of the origins of HIV has led us to the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) that is directly affecting monkeys. This virus is believed to be at least 32,000 years old(http://www. avert. org… ). Generally, it’s now accepted that the HIV virus is a direct descendant of the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus because the strain is almost completely identical to the viruses HIV-1 and HIV-2, the only known types of HIV.
HIV-2 has been pinpointed to come directly from the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus which is found in the monkey called the sooty mangabey (aka the white-collared monkey) which is an animal found in the western parts of Africa (http://www. avert. org… ). The more aggressive and pandemic strain of HIV which is HIV-1 is more difficult for scientists and researchers to place. More recently, though in 1999 researchers have been able to find a very close counterpart to HIV-1 which is directly found in chimpanzees. Still though, the SIV virus in chimps still has very significant differences than that of the HIV virus found in humans.
In February of 1999, in the University of Alabama a group of researchers accounced that they had found a type of virus known as SIVcpz which was nearly identical to the prominent strain of the virus, HIV-1. This frozen sample was taken from a subgroup of chimps know as Pan troglodytes, also P. T. troglodytes which were once found very common in western-central Africa (http://www. avert. org). This frozen sample they found was a virus that was transferred through sex, “viral sex,” and more importantly, and significantly, it was compatible with transferring to humans and causing AIDS (http://www.avert. org).
Furthermore, those researchers believe that the chimps that had the first strain of SIV who hunted and killed the white-collared monkeys who were infected with SIV had created a third strain of SIV, which came to be the HIV virus we know today. How did this virus move to humans? Well there are many theories floating around. One common theory that is commonly accepted is the hunter contracted the virus from the chimp. Directly a resulting from the chimp being eaten, or the blood of the chimp somehow getting in the hunters body from the open cuts or wounds that the hunter had (avert.org/aids-impact-africa…).
Normally, the virus would have been fought off, but in the countless times this situation has happened, the strain changed ever so slightly, as the virus attempted to adapt within the human body. Eventually, this virus developed into the virus we now know as HIV. Of all the people suffering and living today with the HIV/AIDs virus, two-thirds of them live in sub-Saharan Africa, while this is true, this region constrains little more than 10 percent of the world’s population.
The AIDS virus has caused an extreme amount of suffering in the people of Africa. The virus is everywhere, and this is what makes this virus so hard to stop. It’s directly affecting households, schools, and workplaces and even destroying what little economy the Africans had. In 2009, it’s estimated that about one million three hundred thousand adults and children have died as a direct result of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa (avert. org/aids-impact-africa. htm). Since the beginning of this epidemic, more than fifteen million Africans have lost their lives to AIDS.
Currently, is there access to treatment of HIV and AIDS, but fewer than half of Africans affected by the virus are getting the treatment (avert. org/aids-impact-africa. htm). South Africa, without a doubt has one of the largest HIV infection rates, with one thousand people dying from AIDS-related diseases a day (http://news. bbc. co. uk). Today looking back 20 years from 1964 to 1984 only six percent of re-elections were directly a result of that elected leader dying, but looking into the future of ten years, now sixty percent of re-elections were AIDS related ( http://news. bbc. co. uk).
This issue is silent, and currently taboo in the people and this issue is undermining the people and the democracy in which the nation depends on. The centers for disease control and prevention (CDD) says that at least one million one hundred thousand people are living with the HIV virus today in the United States. This number is estimated to increase, though, as a direct result of the treatments prolonging the lives of those infected with the disease (cdcnpin. org/scripts/hiv). As the people living with the virus have more time to live with the virus, the more time and opportunity there is to spread the virus to others.
Looking at all this information, one comes to ask themselves— what’s being done? Well, there are numerous education campaigns that make it their duty to let people know that they need to use condoms at all times when having sex, and that the individuals need to use sterile needles when injecting drugs. Unfortunately some groups object strongly to condoms and don’t encourage their use due to religious issues, even though condoms are the single best way to stop the spread of AIDS. The medications used to today to prolong the life of the individuals directly affected.
But the prices of these medications are not so pretty. In the United States, these drugs cost anywhere from almost 300 dollars a month to 2400 a month— in Africa though, since the infection rate is so high drug manufacturer, Merck announced that the prices will be cut to about $600 a year, but similar announcements have been made by Bristol Myers Squib and GlaxoSmithKline will lower the cost of their drugs to only $100 a month (cdc. gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/resources). This is about only 10% of what it costs to be treated in the United States.
Even though these price cuts a huge, it’s still not enough for the people living in poverty in Africa who average making on a dollar a day, if that. Even though millions are affected by this terrible virus all around the world, much is being done to stop it, and there are researchers and scientists today still fighting and relentlessly looking for an answer on how to cure it. Steadily, less and less people are affected by the disease and with more and more people learning about how to protect themselves from the disease.
Knowledge is everything. Hopefully, in the future, this outbreak can be completely eradicated from this planet, and there will be no more sufferers from this terrible disease.
Bibliography 1. )http://www. unaids. org/en/resources/presscentre/fastfactsabouthiv/ 2. )http://www. avert. org/origin-aids-hiv. htm 3. )http://www. avert. org/aids-impact-africa. htm 4. )http://news. bbc. co. uk/2/hi/africa/6721805. stm 5. )http://cdcnpin. org/scripts/hiv/hiv. asp 6. )http://www. cdc. gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/resources/factsheets/transmission. htm.