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Jonathan McIver

AIDS

AIDS
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) firstly enters and infects the
body, then, if not treated, can turn into acquired immunodeficiency
syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is a worldwide disease, which is also one of the
biggest killers to mankind.
The causes of AIDS and HIV are very vast. HIV most commonly affects
gay men. However, this does not mean that the condition is only a
concern for the gay community. In the UK, it is estimated that one in
ten cases of HIV are acquired during heterosexual sex. The actual
origin of the virus is unknown, however scientists believe that is
originated from chimpanzees in Africa. One theory is that the virus
spread to humans that were hunting the chimps, possibly because they
came into close contact with the infected chimpanzee's blood. The HIV
virus breaks down the genetic code of cells used by our immune
system. These cells are often known as CD4 cells (A type of T cell
involved in protecting against viral, fungal, and protozoal infections).
The virus then uses the raw genetic material to make copies of itself.
The human body can produce more CD4 cells, however eventually the
HIV virus will reduce the numbers of CD4 cells to such an extent that
the immune system will stop working.
The HIV virus can spread outside the body through the exchange of
bodily fluids such as blood and semen, this is why this particular
disease is common in the homosexual community, as anal sex can
spread this virus. Also, oral sex can contribute to the spreading of HIV,
along with sexual intercourse. Drug abusers who share needles are
also at risk of contracting the disease, along with mothers passing the
disease to their unborn child. However, there are now medicines that
can stop this way from happening. The HIV virus can also be spread
through blood transfusions, however after 1985, UK policy is to screen
all donators of blood, to prevent this from happening. Since this policy,
no one in the UK has caught the virus from a blood transfusion. This
may be why the less economically developed countries have a higher
rate of HIV infections.
The symptoms of HIV consist of, fever, sore throat, tiredness, joint
pain, muscle pain, swollen glands and a blotchy rash on the chest.
Jonathan McIver
AIDS

Biological Control and prevention for AIDS and HIV consist of many
different methods. For example there are such simple ways of
preventing the virus, such as always using a condom during sex, this
can prevent unwanted STI’s such as HIV. Also, during sex, avoid using
lubricant or baby oil, as this may weaken the condom, furthering a
chance of the condom splitting, leading to possible infection. It is also
important to continue practising safe sex, even if both partners have
the virus, as this reduces the chance of contracting another strand of
the virus.

Another way of preventing the disease is to avoid sharing needles


whilst injecting drugs, such as heroin. Many local authorities and
pharmacies offer needle exchange programmes, where used needles
can be exchanged for clean ones. Heroin users are advised to consider
enrolling on a methadone programme, this can reduce chances of
contracting the virus, as this can be taken as a liquid.

There are many ways to prevent infection;

• Avoid smoking - this will weaken your immune system.


• Do not use illegal drugs - these also weaken your immune
system and could make your anti-HIV medicines less effective.
• Make sure that your immunisations are up to date - your
GP, or HIV clinic, will be able to advise you.
• Eat a healthy diet - this will boost your immune system. See
the 'related articles' section for more advice about healthy
eating.
• Take regular exercise - this will boost both your immune
system and your mood. See the 'related articles' section for
more information about exercise.
• Wash your hands regularly - particularly after going to the
toilet, before, and after, preparing food, and after spending time
in crowded places.

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is a treatment for


HIV/AIDS. However this only slows the progress of the infection, and
does not stop it altogether. The treatment involves many medicines, as
the HIV virus can quickly adapt and become immune to a single
medicine. HAART is often prescribed to people who’s CD4 count drops
Jonathan McIver
AIDS
below 350 (500 or more is classed as good). The treatment overly
protects patient’s immune system as slows down the actual virus.

In some parts of the world HIV/AIDS is much more common than


others, for example, 80% of the worlds deaths from AIDS occur in
Africa. 34 million people in sub- Saharan Africa have been infected with
HIV since the start of the pandemic, 11.4 million are estimated to have
died. One quarter of the population of Zimbabwe is infected with HIV.
Zimbabwe is also a central African country, showing that Africa is at
high risk of infection of HIV and AIDS.

The countries which show a vast difference in the number of outbreaks


of the virus include;

• Between 20-25% of people aged between 15 and 49 in Botswana


and Zimbabwe are infected with HIV.
• 73,000 people in the UK were living with HIV by the end of 2006,
a third were unaware of this.
• It is thought that more than one million people are living with HIV
in the USA and that more than half a million have died after
developing AIDS.
Jonathan McIver
AIDS
• Government reports claim that over 300,000 Nigerians die yearly
of complications arising from AIDS.
• An estimated 15,670 people were living with HIV in Australia at
the end of 2006.

One reason why the statistics of HIV/AIDS may look like this is
because countries such as Nigeria and Zimbabwe are less
economically developed countries (LEDC’s). This could influence the
statistics as many medicines and treatments for the disease cannot
be used in such countries, as a result of a lack of funds.

Another reason for this set of statistics is that countries such as


USA, UK and Australia are often subject to many adverts, and
campaigns stating how dangerous unprotected sex is and how drug
taking with needles is portrayed as a deadly idea. This influences
many people in the countries into practicing these ideas, preventing
a widespread outbreak of the virus.

The African countries often have very high birth rates, which in turn
show us that often, sexual intercourse is unprotected. This
contributes to the spreading of HIV as vaginal fluids, semen, and
maybe blood are passed from partner to partner, this could rapidly
turn into an epidemic.

Australian HIV/AIDS Table


HIV AIDS
Year
Male Female Total** Male Female Total**
1987 This table shows the HIV rate for
and 6,846 236 7,116 762 35 797 Australia between 1987 and 2006. This
earlier trend shows us that, over time, the
1988 1,221 73 1,297 520 15 536 amount of cases with HIV and AIDS has
1989 1,295 74 1,371 599 13 614 generally decreased. This shows that
1990 1,283 85 1,276 655 17 674 medicine and treatments developed
1991 1,078 80 1,162 775 26 804 over time have very much helped to
1992 1,051 88 1,140 752 37 791 control rates of the outbreak.
1993 912 67 986 799 41 845
1994 839 85 926 904 45 953 Also, the rate of infection may have
1995 818 71 890 773 35 811 decreased because the idea of AIDS and
1996 811 74 887 637 33 670 HIV has become more renowned and well
1997 637 83 721 362 32 395 publicised. Therefore more people know
1998 550 94 645 305 23 329 how to prevent the disease from spreading.
1999 610 73 685 192 22 215
2000 572 82 658 239 24 263
2001 593 95 690 189 23 213
2002 731 90 825 221 19 242
2003 728 84 813 225 16 242
2004 724 126 851 183 22 207
2005 835 92 928 216 27 243
2006 817 143 963 239 19 261
Total 21,482 1,878 23,428 9,566 524 10,125
Jonathan McIver
AIDS
The graph also shows that the amount of women with AIDS is far less than the
amount of men with the disease. This should be because anal sex is a huge
contributor to the spreading of HIV, which eventually turns into AIDS.

A possible action plan for the treatment and prevention of AIDS could
consist of:

• Alert all/ majority of the population of the country on how to


prevent spreading of the disease, including how to practice
unprotected sex. Do this through education or public
demonstrations.
• Allow special funding for research and development for
treatment of the AIDS disease.
• Allow free condoms and other forms of protection along with
cheap/ free vaccinations for particular types of HIV.
• Set up screening for blood donators, taken from the idea that the
UK have introduced. This would stop the disease spreading
through blood transfusions.