HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. H stands for Human. This particular virus can only infect humans. I stands for Immunodeficiency. HIV weakens your immune system by destroying important cells that fight disease and infections. V stands for Virus. A virus can only reproduce itself by taking over a cell in the body of its host. HIV is very similar to other diseases, such as the flu, but there is one large difference between HIV and your everyday cold. Your immune system can get rid of the flu and other diseases, but your immune system can’t get rid of HIV. HIV is transmitted by having sex, blood transfusions, sharing needles, and through child delivery and breast feeding. As of now, there are many treatments options for HIV, which I will get into later. In this essay, I will discuss the causes of HIV, how it is transmitted, treatments for the disease, HIV prevention, and foundation dedicated to HIV research and funding.
Researchers estimate that sometime in the early 1900s a form of simian immunodeficiency virus, SIV, jumped to humans in central Africa. The mutated virus became the first human immunodeficiency virus. Then, in 1959, the first known case of HIV in a human occurs in a person who died in the Congo, later confirmed as having HIV infection from his preserved blood samples. Then, the first recognised cases of AIDS occurred in the USA in the early 1980s. A number of gay men in New York and California suddenly began to develop rare opportunistic infections and cancers that seemed stubbornly resistant to any treatment. At this time, AIDS did not yet have a name, but it quickly became obvious that all the men were suffering from a common syndrome. The most recent research has found that in 2012 alone, an estimated 2.3 million individuals worldwide were newly infected with HIV.
In June of 1981, the first cases of HIV/AIDS were diagnosed. The cases were in 5 gay men. They all had rare lung infections, as well as other unusual infections. Due to public misconceptions that only gay men could get the disease, it was dubbed as the “gay cancer”. The first official documentation of the condition was published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on 5th June 1981. Entitled “Pneumocystis Pneumonia – Los Angeles”, the report detailed the cases of five young gay men hospitalized with serious PCP, cytomegalovirus, and disseminated candida infections. Short after the CDC’s statement, the New York Times reported that a total of 41 homosexual men had been diagnosed with Kaposi’s Sarcoma, eight of whom had died less than 24 months after the diagnosis was made. And by the end of 1981, 5 to 6 cases of HIV were reported each week.
Nobody is quite sure the cause of HIV. But, we are aware of how it is transmitted. HIV can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact, and in a number of other ways. Both men and women can have HIV, and can transmit the virus. HIV can be transmitted through heterosexual or homosexual sex. HIV is transmitted through having unprotected vaginal or anal sex, sharing sex toys, and using a needle or injecting equipment which has already been used by someone who is infected with HIV. Blood contains the highest concentration of the virus, followed by semen, followed by vaginal fluids, followed by breast milk. But, there are some bodily fluids that are not infectious including saliva, tears, sweat, feces, and urine.
Although HIV is very deadly, there are treatments for it that can help people live a long life. The most common type of treatment is antiretroviral drug treatment. It is not a cure, but it can stop people from becoming ill for many years. The treatment consists of drugs that have to be taken every day for the rest of a person’s life.
The aim of antiretroviral treatment is to keep the amount of HIV in the body at a low level. This stops any weakening of the immune system and allows it to recover from any damage that HIV might have caused already.