Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate September 2001

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Yes, that spells AIDS but that is not what the acronym represents. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a very deadly virus and often ends in pain and suffering for both the patient and their families. AIDS is an incurable and debilitating disease. The first case of AIDS was discovered in 1981. This disease has killed more than 400,000 people in the U.S. but there have been 13.9 million deaths worldwide including children, women, and men. According to the Center of Disease Control, approximately 650,000-900,000 people currently have HIV.

In the inner city, the highest group of people that has an increased chance of getting HIV/AIDS is usually young, poor minority women partly because minority women engage in sex at an earlier age and unexpectantly get pregnant. Other groups that are also most susceptible are drug users and prostitutes. According to Dengelegi, Weber, & Torquato, writers for the CDC, prostitutes are at a higher risk because they fail to use proper safety measures such as a condom.

Over one-quarter of prostitutes do not use condoms and only fourteen percent of prostitutes actually make their customers use protection. Drug users are also at higher risks because they share needles with other people that may potentially have AIDS.

AIDS is not the killer of whoever gets it. The real killer the opportunistic virus that the person might catch which eventually leads to their death. AIDS is acquired through Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). This is the highly dangerous part of AIDS. Between the transformation from HIV to AIDS, the body's immune system gets destroyed by the virus and is extremely vulnerable and prone to catch many diseases very quickly. AIDS does not spread but HIV spreads rapidly and can often go undetected for a very long time. This is called the "window period." It usually takes between 3-6 months before the signs of the virus are present . There has not been any known cure for HIV because it continually changes. It is very difficult to find an HIV strand. So the only way doctors can find the traces of the virus is if the immune system has made antibodies for the virus.

As I said earlier, there is no cure for AIDS but there are treatments that can slow down the process by which the virus attacks the immune system. AZT is one such treatment. There is no actual definition for the acronym, but AZT is also known as azido-deoxythymidine, zidovudine, or ZDV. AIDS patients can take up to 72 pills daily according to the same news article in the about 20 pills a day. Some medications are administered intravenously while some are protease inhibitors called cocktails. Cocktail drugs are mixtures of different drugs. Mixtures of different drugs often work more efficiently together than on their own.

The latest HIV treatment has shown that it can stop the development of AIDS. "But not every one can get them and the cost is not the deciding factor," Says an article by Deborah Sontag and Lynda Richardson of the New York Times. "The doctor is." The physicians can determine whether or not the patient is responsible enough to take the medicine. The reason for this line of action is that if there is even one time where a person skips a treatment of this drug, it could "not only spell disaster for individual patients, but also create a potential public health risk through the spread of a virus resistant to many drugs .

HIV is transmitted three main ways. The first is through fluid exchange, which are seamen, vaginal fluid, blood, and breast milk. Saliva and sweat have not been known methods for receiving or transmitting the virus. The second is through needle exchange, which is particularly common among illegal drug users. The third means of contracting the disease is by having unprotected sex.

Doctors are aware that a person can also get HIV through their parents. Therefore, many hospitals started a mandatory test for newborns to see if they are born with the disease. As of several years ago, the state did "blind HIV tests" (confidential tests) to newborn babies. These tests are now regarded as "unblind". Unblind test are simply HIV tests that are not anonymous. But the hospitals are required to sign papers that promise to disclose the information whether the baby tests positive or negative .

In conclusion, HIV and AIDS are detrimental to the health of many people around the world. Obtaining these viruses often end tragically. Once more, the top ways of not getting this disease is to abstain from sex or use condoms or not to do drugs. HIV & AIDS are very dangerous and most cases end tragically and when it is all said and done, the two best ways to avoid catching these diseases are to abstain from sex and drugs.