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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Aids: The Millenial Bug - 1791 words
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AIDS: THE MILLENIAL BUG By: Elizabeth Kelly, SPN January 1, 2000 INTRODUCTION At the beginning of the 20th Century it was believed by many, including the United States Patent Office, that there was nothing else to invent. Now, 100 years later at the beginning of the new millenium the ancient Egyptian philosopher is more relevant, 'there is nothing new under the Sun'. While HIV/AIDS may be a new disease, there is nothing new about a novel epidemic, which can potentially or actually decimate a population. In the late middle ages, the Black, now known as the Bubonic Plague, swept through Europe killing virtually half the population. It was introduced by a single or small group of rats that came to Italy abroad a trading ship from what is now Turkey.
Small Pox transmitted by trade goods from the Hudson Bay Company wiped out entire Native American tribes. There are other examples of diseases accidentally introduced to a population that had no genetic immunity to them. Not to mention NASA's fear of an unbeatable super virus from outer space. Now as in previous diseases, one of the dangers of HIV/AIDS is not only in its plague proportions but also in the almost superstitious misunderstanding of the virus itself. In the treatment of all illness, it is necessary to understand the emotional, economic, psychological and sometimes even political impact that is brought about by the disease. This is particularly true with a disease that is as devastating and heretofore misunderstood as HIV/AIDS
AIDS is the punishment of God on sinners. AIDS is a plot by the CIA and the South African Government to wipe out the population of black Africa. AIDS is the result of medical experimentation during the development of the polio vaccine employing the use of rieces monkeys as guinea pigs. AIDS is this, AIDS is that; AIDS is the end of the world. There is nothing new under the Sun.
As we enter a new millenium, we are still controlled by prejudice, fear and superstition. AIDS is not the end of the world, it is simply the latest challenge the medical community needs to meet. There are new things to invent including an immunization and cure for HIV/AIDS. But before that we must overcome the age-old superstitious fears of the unknown and rise above the prejudices that we harbor of, 'those people'. Let us understand HIV/AIDS.
AIDS, the acronym for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is the end stage disease of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The result of this disease is the destruction of the patient's immune system. Since the infected person has no ability to fight off any infection because the virus is replicating in and destroying the cells that normally fight infection, he/she then becomes susceptible to all opportunistic disease. Ultimately death occurs as a result of the body's inability to fight infection. In the early 1980'sThe Center for Disease Control and Prevention became aware that a new 'virus' was effecting certain segments of society. In 1985 researchers isolated a virus believe to be responsible for AIDS.
Since that time the definition of this disease has changed many time. In 1993 the definition was expanded to include conditions more applicable to women and injecting illegal drug users. The new definition includes all HIV infected persons who have a CD4 cell count of 200 cells per microleter of blood. Also added were three clinical conditions. The current definition states that AIDS is an illness characterized by laboratory evidence of HIV infection coexisting with one or more indicator diseases. Most patients are diagnosed by these criteria.
HIV, as its name indicates is a virus and is therefore and obligate parasite. Such parasites can only replicate while inside another living cell, or host. Parenthetically, HIV carries its genetic material in RNA rather than DNA, and while in the host the virus converts RNA to DNA in order to replicate. In seeking hosts, HIV is typically attracted to cells with CD4 + molecules on their surface such as T-helper lymphocytes and similar cells. HIV reproduces at a phenomenal rate, which causes massive destruction to the host cells.
Cell destruction grows geometrically as the virus replicates and seeks new host cells. Immune system breakdown primarily results from the dysregulation and destruction of T-helper cells or CD4+lymphocytes. HIV is particularly sinister in its attack on T-helper cells since one of the functions of those cells is to recognize and alert the immune system to alien infections Initially the body's immune system, to a certain degree combats the virus. However, since the virus virtually targets CD4+lymphatics or T-helper cells, the immune system begins to loose its ability to even recognize let alone defend the invading virus. The immune system remains relatively healthy as long as its count of CD4 cells is greater than 500 per microliter of blood. Since CD4 + cells are designed to attack infection, they are ironically drawn to the virus where they are subsequently infected.
Ultimately the infection spreads through the lymph system and lymphoid tissue becomes a reservoir for HIV replication. As the disease progresses viral particles begin to enter the blood, this results in the infection of body tissues where the virus begins to replicate in infected macrophages. Massive reproduction of HIV in these cells causes the macrophage to burst allowing HIV to infect surrounding tissues. The skin, lymph nodes, CNS, lungs and possibly even bone marrow are infected in this manner. The virus at this point is well on its way to infecting every organ and tissue in the body. The symptoms of HIV, while highly identifiable to the patient, are general in nature and are attributable to any number of causes. Early signs are consistent with flu like viruses. They include abdominal pain, chills and fever, coughing, diarrhea, dyspnea, fatigue and headache. Later symptoms are more severe and could be consistent with other diagnosis including cancer. Some symptoms include disorders of the lymphatic system, malaise, muscle and joint pain, night sweats, oral lesions, shortness of breath, skin rash, sore throat, weight loss and disorientation. Additionally in the majority of HIV cases there are neurological manifestations as well.
In addition to symptoms preliminary diagnosis can be made by deduction in ascertaining whether or not the patient engages in high-risk behaviors. If combinations of symptoms are present and are accompanied by high-risk behaviors, then immediate clinical testing is advised. The individual's blood is tested with ELISA or enzyme immunoassay (EIA), antibody tests that detect the presence of HIV antibodies. If this test is positive than the same blood is tested a second time. If a second EIA test is positive a Western blot is performed. This is a more specific confirming test.
Blood that tests positive to all three screenings is reported to be positive for HIV. IF the results are inconclusive or indeterminate, the tests are repeated in 4 to 6 weeks. Again, if repeated and the results remain indeterminate a culture is done to determine the viral load, this is done through testing the DNA of the individual. These tests, whether positive or negative does not confirm nor dismiss the diagnosis of AIDS. That is done according to the 1993 CDC definition of HIV.
A negative test is not an assurance that the individual is free of HIV since seroconversion takes up to three months after initial infection. And if the individual continues to engage in risky behaviors, transmission of the disease is likely to occur. At the present time it is believed that the modes of transmission of the HIV virus are clearly identified and understood. Although generally perceived by the public as a sexually transmitted disease, the method of HIV transmission is far broader than simple sexual contact. As previously stated an obligate virus HIV requires a host organism to survive. Once leaving the human body the virus is extremely fragile and cannot survive outside of a host. Thus, HIV is transferred from person to person through infected body fluids including blood, semen, cervicovaginal secretions, breast milk, pericardial, synovial, cerebrospinal, peritoneal and amniotic fluids.
It has been discovered that not all body fluids, which contain HIV, transmit the virus. These fluids include saliva, urine, tears and feces. Further, the ability for HIV to be transmitted via an infected fluid from one human to another is mitigated by a variety of variables such as duration and frequency of exposure, the amount of the virus inoculated and the virulence of the organism. The efficiency of the immune system is also a factor. Once the virus has been passed to another individual, the newly infected individual then is immediately capable of passing the virus to yet another individual. However, there are apparently cycles when the probability of transmission is greater than others.
The greatest potential for transmission occurs immediately after infected and during their end stages of the disease. Nonetheless, it must be stressed that it is possible for HIV to be transmitted at anytime during the entire disease spectrum. As a practical matter, the most common method of transmission of HIV is through sexual contact. Vaginal and anal intercourse are two of the three most common modes of HIV transmission. Throughout the world it is believed that 75% of the total AIDS cases were the result of sexual contact. Anal intercourse is the most frequent method of HIV transmission.
This being the result of the frequent tearing of the rectal mucosa which allows for direct infusion of the infected semen into the blood stream. In all cases of intercourse the receptive partner is far more susceptible than the insertive partner. This is not only true of anal and vaginal intercourse, but also for oral intercourse as well. HIV can also be transmitted through oral genital sexual contact but such cases are considered rare. The homosexual community was seriously impacted by HIV in the early days of the epidemic.
This was the result of the tendency for unprotected and casual sexual encounters as well as a higher tendency for anal intercourse. The prostitution subculture was and still is seriously impacted by the HIV virus. Causes of this include their numerous and varied sexual encounters, pre-existing sexually transmitted diseases in addition to life style issues such as alcohol, smoking and illegal drug use which weakens the immune system. Undoubtedly, the most powerful form of transmission from one human to another of the HIV virus is through direct blood transfusions employing infected blood. However, this has resulted in a miniscule number of cases.
But the accidental or intentional use of contaminated injecting equipment is the third most common method of HIV transmission. The frequency of transmission being in the deliberate and repeated use of contaminated syringes by infected persons generally occurs in users of illegal drugs. These users typically share syringes and or other improvised i ...
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