AIDS is the acronym used for Acquired Immune
Deficiency Syndrome. It is a disease transmitted through
the blood. It is transmitted from person to person
through sexual intercourse, blood transfusions, I.V. drug
users, and from mothers to babies during birth.
AIDS is a disease which breaks down the human immune
system causing the body to become very susceptible to
infection. The disease is brought about by the HIV-1
virus. HIV-1( Human Immunodeficiency Virus) can remain
dormant for years and then begins to attack the bodies T-
cells and white cells which help fight off infection.
Full-blown AIDS occurs when a person is in the last
stages of his or her battle for life. It is a fatal
disease not because of the disease itself but because of
the fact that other infections attack the body and it has
no way to recover from it. Full-blown AIDS is the stage
of a person’s life when their immune system has been
completely destroyed. A person does not usually have any
symptoms of the disease. That is that there are no real
indications that a person is infected. There is no
certain look to a person who is HIV-1 positive. They
could be the person who lives next door or a complete
stranger that is seen passing by one the street. The
patient may feel tired, nauseous, feverish, and have a
loss of appetite or weight. These are also indications
of many other diseases. This is why most people only
find out that they are positive after a random blood
test. Blood tests are given to patients and the virus
can be detected in the bloodstream. False positives and
negatives can also occur. For this reason it is
recommended that a person be tested more that once over a
period of about a year.

As of today there is no cure for AIDS and HIV-1
because of a few reasons. One is that it is such a new
disease. The United States is in the middle of a
widespread epidemic of a killer virus that was only
discovered about sixteen years ago. During the summer of
1981, the United States recognized their first case of
AIDS. After later research though, it was found to have
been around in 1975. At first, AIDS was thought to be a
homosexual disease. The gay community in New York City
has been hit the hardest with about 1/2 million cases to
date. Scientists believe that the virus was carried by
male homosexuals during the sexual revolution of the mid-
1970s. Promiscuity was common among all people. It is
thought to have been brought from New York City on the
East coast to San Francisco on the West coast. San
Francisco is another common area in the country for gay
people to live. It also has the second highest rate of
AIDS per capita in the country. When AIDS was first seen
in this country, a widespread homophobia broke out.
People felt that the gay community was going to be
responsible for the outbreak of this horrible and
uncontrollable disease. A disease which could cause the
destruction of the entire society.

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Male Homosexuals are the principal victims of AIDS
but that is rapidly changing. The virus must somehow
been contracted by heterosexuals from blood transfusions
or needle sharing. The numbers of infected heterosexuals
in the United States is growing. The fastest growing
group is in women and young adults ages 18-25. These
ideas seemed outrageous a few years ago but today are not
so far-fetched. As of 1990, women made up about ten
percent of infected Americans but the numbers keep on
growing. About one-fifth of all reported cases are young
adults in their twenties. An average of two college
students per every one thousand tested had contracted the
virus. The number of teenagers who contracted the virus
rose over forty percent between the years 1988-1990.
After the spreading of the virus from homosexuals to
heterosexuals, people became panicked. The only way that
HIV-1 can be spread is through bodily fluid like blood.
The transmission can only take place during sex, a
transfer of blood, or from the birth of a child of an
infected woman. People were not educated about the
disease because it was so new. A fear came over the non-
infected people. Those who were infected became
alienated from the rest of the society. People began to
think up new and bizarre ways that the disease could be
contracted. Though the government has tried to educate
people about the disease, some people are still not clear
on the facts or they just refuse to acknowledge the
AIDS is an epidemic that can not be cured but can be
contained. One unprotected sexual intercourse can be the
cause of the transmission of the HIV-1 virus. In order
to prevent the spread of the virus this way there are two
main solutions, use a condom or don’t have sex. People
do not see things this way though. When a teenager was
asked if he would have sex, knowing the consequences,
without having a condom is answer was yes(Fain 42). If
people continue to act this way, the entire world will
probably be dead. Other ways of preventing the spread of
AIDS have already been put into affect. Blood which is
donated for transfusions is screened for the virus so
that it is not given to an uninfected person. There are
also programs in effect to exchange used needles with
clean ones so that I.V. drug users have less a chance of
contracting the disease. There are plenty of ways to
keep from contracting the virus, it all depends on the
morals, values, and brains of people.

Another reason why there is no cure for AIDS and HIV-
1 is the virus itself. The make-up of the strand of the
virus baffles the medical and science world. When HIV-1
enters the blood stream, it attacks the good cells of the
body. After a short period, the virile strand changes
shape and form. This change of form is what has the
doctors stumped. When a research team thinks that they
have a cure or way to slow down the course of the virus,
the virus becomes completely different. This does not
mean that advances have not been made. It is just the
opposite. The progress which scientists have made in
such a short time has other fields of medicine and
science stunned. Never before has such progress been
made about a new and unheard of virus in such short time.
Millions of dollars have been spent in the research for a
cure for AIDS. Most of the research has been conducted
by the CDC(Centers for Disease Control) and funded by the
federal government. There have also been many private
organizations which have benefits to raise money for AIDS
research. There have been advances in prolonging the
onset of AIDS though, three strategies have been used in
this prolonging. The first is to treat the infection
that the patient has, the second is to treat the AIDS
itself, and the third is to stimulate the immune system.
By treating the infection of the patient, the underlying
problem is not dealt with. The second uses anti-viral
drugs to inhibit the AIDS virus. These drugs are known
as PFA, AZT, and AL721. These drugs are very powerful
and toxic and are only effective when continued with
treatment. When treatment is stopped, the virus and all
its symptoms reappear. Bone marrow transplants are used
to stimulate the immune system. Bone marrow produces
blood cells. A transplant can allow the body to
reproduce some cells that are not infected with the
virus. Whatever treatments are used, they must be done
while the patients immune systems are still in tact.
After the immune system is destroyed, there is pretty
much no hope.

Although the HIV-1 virus is a new virus in the United
States, it is not new to the world. The villages of
Africa have been inflicted with the virus for about one
hundred years. They did not know what it was that was
killing them. It began to infect those in the medical
centers who worked with the blood. The villagers did not
know what was killing them, how it was transmitted, and
how to stop it. Scientists are still not sure of the
evolution of the HIV-1 and AIDS viruses. They don’t know
how it came about or how it was brought to the United
States. They do know that they must find an answer to it
and fast.
Other Countries around the world have vast cases of
infection from these viruses as well. Haiti, Canada,
Asian, and European countries are all battling in a war
against a deadly disease. Scientists from all over the
world have joined together to help win the war against
AIDS. It can not be done by one person though. Everyone
must do their part to keep themselves and others safe
from this quiet killer.

Bender, David L. Current Controversies: The Aids Crisis.

Greenhaven Press. San Diego. 1991.

Fain, Jean. AIDS Poses a Threat to Teenagers. Bender,
David. 36-44
Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. Funk and Wagnalls Co.

New York. 1993
Halpern, Sue. AIDS is a Health Risk for Women. Bender,
David. 29-36
McCuen, Gary E. The AIDS Crisis: Conflicting Social
Values. McCuen Publishers. Wisconsin. 1987
Sery, Douglas. AZT and Other Drugs Prolong the Lives of
AIDS Patients. Bender, David. 158-163
Walker, Robert Searles. AIDS Today, Tomorrow: An
Introduction to the HIV Epidemic in America.

Humanities Press. New Jersey. 1994