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Hiv /Aids Epidemic Essay

1155 words - 5 pages

A Global Epidemic |
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HIV/AIDS: A Global Epidemic

Human Immunodeficiency Virus also known as HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV is a disease that attacks the immune system specifically targeting CD4 cells or T cells. HIV makes you more susceptible to certain types of cancers and infections that our bodies would normally resist such as pneumonia and meningitis (The Mayo Clinic, 2010). Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is a global epidemic. There is an estimated 39.5 million people living with the virus today (The Mayo Clinic, 2010). Approximately 2.0 million people died from aid in 2008 (WHO, ...view middle of the document...

However, the most common sign or symptom in the beginning of this illness may include fever, headache, sore throat, swollen glands and rashes. These flu-like symptoms last for two to four weeks after being infected and usually disappear on their own. After initial symptoms may disappear, HIV then becomes asymptomatic and could possible remain this way for up to 10 years.

Even though no symptoms are present, the virus will continue to cause damage to the immune system. The length of this asymptomatic or symptom free phase vary from individual depending only on how fast the virus multiplies in the immune system. After being symptom free for eight or nine years you may develop mild infections or chronic symptoms such as: diarrhea, weight loss, fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The final stages of HIV are referred to as full blown AIDS. By this stage, the immune system is severely damaged. The signs and symptoms may include but at not limited to : soaking night sweats, fever of 100 F for several weeks, dry cough and shortness of breath, chronic diarrhea, persistent white spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth, blurred or distorted vision.

Our immune system consists of two types of important cells: B cells and T cells. These cells work together to reproduce and fight off infections when foreign substance in the body. When infected with HIV, the cells that are necessary to produce antibodies are not developed and cannot eliminate the cells containing HIV. In other words, because B cells work with T cells to regenerate themselves, the HIV virus causes the T cells to not be able to regenerate and fight off infections.

Our bodies have an innate immune system. The innate immune system acts as the first line of defense when our bodies come in contact with an infection (McEnery, 2008). When the HIV infection makes contact with the blood, the virus immediately starts killing off the cells that work against the virus. The HIV infection eliminates our immune responses while continuing to grow. Because the virus grows so rapidly, “studies have shown that large amounts of the virus can be present during the asymptomatic stage of the disease” ( Mulvihill, Zelman, Holdaway, Tompary, Raymond, 2006 ).

Currently there is no cure for AIDS. There has yet to be a preventative vaccine developed for AIDS either.” The genetic makeup of the AIDS virus varies greatly from strain to strain and HIV tends to mutate quickly, which complicates the attempt to...

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