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Aids Paper

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Hannah Farrell

AIDS Paper

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a type of retrovirus, there are two types of HIV labeled 1 &2, each type has many subtypes but for the purpose of this discussion we will be referring to it as just HIV. Science first discovered and AIDS HIV was discovered in 1983 and is the cause of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). AIDS is the last stage of the HIV virus.

We cannot speak of AIDS without out speaking of HIV as AIDS is the last stage of the HIV virus. However it should be noted that not all those infected by HIV will transition to AIDS.

The virus only lives in certain body fluids. The body fluids HIV/AIDS virus can be found in are blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. Because of where the virus exists and that it does not have a long survival rate outside of the body it is only possible to transmit the virus through contact with a mucus membrane, be directly injected into the bloodstream, or damaged tissue.

AIDS, as its name states, weakens the body’s immune system, making it unable to fight off disease.  It does this during the HIV stage by destroying the CD4 cell a type of T lymphocyte cell. T lymphocytes are a critical part of the body's immune system. Additionally, without the T lymphocytes the body cannot create b cells that make antibodies. When HIV destroys these lymphocytes, the immune system becomes weak allowing the individual to be unable to fight off infections and diseases they normally wouldn't. When the CD4 cell count falls below 200 cell per ul or the presence of specific diseases associated with HIV the patient has then transitioned into AIDS. At this point the immune system is severely weakened, and the risk of contracting opportunistic infections is much greater.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent HIV or AIDS. In 2009 a study on RV 144 was published. It was found to partially reduction the risk of transmission of roughly 30%, stimulating some hope in the research community of developing a truly effective vaccine. Further trials of the RV 144 vaccine are ongoing. However, a variety of drugs are used to treatment HIV/AIDS. There are currently 30 drugs used to treat people with the virus and the regimen is called antiretroviral therapy or ART. The regimen can help people with the virus live longer healthier lives. Additionally, the drugs help reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. As with any medicine there the HIV/AIDS medicines have side effects. Most side effects are manageable, but a few can be very serious.  Overall the benefits of following ART regimen are worth it, the difficulties.

One of the most interesting things that I discovered about the HIV and AIDS viruses was the fact the most assumed it was a relatively new mutation of simian immunodeficiency virus or SIV. And while HIV may have mutated or crossed the species barrier from SIV the time frame that most believe the virus began must be adjusted. It is amazing to learn that the earliest known case of infection with HIV-1 in a human was detected in a blood sample collected in 1959 from a man in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Genetic analysis of this blood sample suggested that HIV-1 may have stemmed from a single virus in the late 1940s or early 1950s. It makes me wonder how long the virus has existed and if a cure or HIV resistant individuals exist in populations that traditionally ate chimpanzee and we have yet to discover them.

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