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Hiv/aids

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Essay title: Hiv/aids

HIV/AIDS

Has it Been Conquered?

To answer that question truthfully HIV/AIDS has not been conquered. But there is still hope there are researchers working around the clock 24 Hours a day trying to cure this disease. HIV/AIDS is a serious disease and killed over 22 million people and there are over 42 million people in America living with it. The question is “what is HIV/AIDS”?

What is HIV?

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that causes AIDS. A member of a group of viruses called retroviruses, HIV infects human cells and uses the energy and nutrients provided by those cells to grow and reproduce.

What is AIDS?

AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. It is a disease in which the body's immune system breaks down and is unable to fight off infections, known as “opportunistic infections,” and other illnesses that take advantage of a weakened immune system.

When a person is infected with HIV, the virus enters the body and lives and multiplies primarily in the white blood cells. These are immune cells that normally protect us from disease. The trademark of HIV infection is the progressive loss of a specific type of immune cells called T-cells. As the virus grows, it damages or kills these and other cells weakening the immune system and leaving the person vulnerable to various opportunistic infections. Some of these opportunistic diseases are the common cold, the flu, and other illnesses ranging from pneumonia to cancer.

In some people, the T-cell decline and opportunistic infections that signal AIDS develop soon after infection with HIV. But most people do not develop symptoms for 10 to 12 years, and a few remain symptom-free for much longer. As with most diseases, early medical care can help prolong a person's life.

Most people with HIV do not know they carry it and may be spreading the virus to others. Statistics show over a million Americans have HIV, and 40,000 Americans become newly infected with HIV each year. It is estimated that a quarter of all people with HIV in the U.S. do not know they are carrying

the virus.

In the beginning, AIDS killed more than 25 million people worldwide, including more than 500,000 Americans. AIDS has been shown as the world's deadliest infectious disease among people and is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. Fifteen million children have lost their parents because of this epidemic.

A person who has HIV carries the virus in certain body fluids, including blood, semen, vaginal fluids (secretions), and breast milk. The virus can be transmitted only if such HIV-infected fluids enter the bloodstream of another person. This kind of direct entry can happen (1) through intercourse be it anal, vaginal, and or oral (2) through injection with a syringe; or (3) through a break in the skin, such as a cut or sore. Usually, HIV is transmitted through unprotected sex (vaginal, oral or anal) with someone who has HIV. Women are at greater risk of HIV infection through vaginal sex than men, although the virus can also be transmitted from women to men. Anal sex (whether male-male or male-female) poses a high risk mainly to the receptive partner, because the lining of the anus and rectum is extremely thin and is filled with small blood vessels that can be easily injured during intercourse.

It is perilous to have unprotected oral sex with someone who has HIV. Even though there are far fewer cases of HIV transmission attributed to oral sex than to either vaginal or anal intercourse, but oral sex poses a clear risk of HIV infection, particularly when ejaculation occurs in the mouth. This risk goes up when either partner has cuts or sores, such as those caused by sexually transmitted infections (STIs), a recent tooth-brushing, or canker sores, which can allow the virus to enter the bloodstream.

Sharing needles or syringes with someone who is HIV infected is also risky. Laboratory studies show that HIV can survive in used syringes for a month or more. That's why people who inject drugs should never reuse or share syringes, water, or drug preparation equipment. This includes needles or syringes used to inject illegal drugs such as heroin, as well as steroids. Other types of needles, such as those used for body piercing and tattoos, can also carry HIV.

It is possible to transfer HIV to an infant from breast feeding. Any woman who is pregnant or considering becoming pregnant and thinks she may have been exposed to HIV even if the exposure occurred years ago should seek testing, counseling and treatment. In the U.S., mother to infant transmission (by breast feeding) has dropped to just a few cases each year because pregnant

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