Jonathan McIver AIDS

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) firstly enters and infects the body, then, if not treated, can turn into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS is a worldwide disease, which is also one of the biggest killers to mankind. The causes of AIDS and HIV are very vast. HIV most commonly affects gay men. However, this does not mean that the condition is only a concern for the gay community. In the UK, it is estimated that one in ten cases of HIV are acquired during heterosexual sex. The actual origin of the virus is unknown, however scientists believe that is originated from chimpanzees in Africa. One theory is that the virus spread to humans that were hunting the chimps, possibly because they came into close contact with the infected chimpanzee's blood. The HIV virus breaks down the genetic code of cells used by our immune system. These cells are often known as CD4 cells (A type of T cell involved in protecting against viral, fungal, and protozoal infections). The virus then uses the raw genetic material to make copies of itself. The human body can produce more CD4 cells, however eventually the HIV virus will reduce the numbers of CD4 cells to such an extent that the immune system will stop working. The HIV virus can spread outside the body through the exchange of bodily fluids such as blood and semen, this is why this particular disease is common in the homosexual community, as anal sex can spread this virus. Also, oral sex can contribute to the spreading of HIV, along with sexual intercourse. Drug abusers who share needles are also at risk of contracting the disease, along with mothers passing the disease to their unborn child. However, there are now medicines that can stop this way from happening. The HIV virus can also be spread through blood transfusions, however after 1985, UK policy is to screen all donators of blood, to prevent this from happening. Since this policy, no one in the UK has caught the virus from a blood transfusion. This may be why the less economically developed countries have a higher rate of HIV infections. The symptoms of HIV consist of, fever, sore throat, tiredness, joint pain, muscle pain, swollen glands and a blotchy rash on the chest.

Jonathan McIver AIDS

Biological Control and prevention for AIDS and HIV consist of many different methods. For example there are such simple ways of preventing the virus, such as always using a condom during sex, this can prevent unwanted STI’s such as HIV. Also, during sex, avoid using lubricant or baby oil, as this may weaken the condom, furthering a chance of the condom splitting, leading to possible infection. It is also important to continue practising safe sex, even if both partners have the virus, as this reduces the chance of contracting another strand of the virus. Another way of preventing the disease is to avoid sharing needles whilst injecting drugs, such as heroin. Many local authorities and pharmacies offer needle exchange programmes, where used needles can be exchanged for clean ones. Heroin users are advised to consider enrolling on a methadone programme, this can reduce chances of contracting the virus, as this can be taken as a liquid. There are many ways to prevent infection; • • • • • • Avoid smoking - this will weaken your immune system. Do not use illegal drugs - these also weaken your immune system and could make your anti-HIV medicines less effective. Make sure that your immunisations are up to date - your GP, or HIV clinic, will be able to advise you. Eat a healthy diet - this will boost your immune system. See the 'related articles' section for more advice about healthy eating. Take regular exercise - this will boost both your immune system and your mood. See the 'related articles' section for more information about exercise. Wash your hands regularly - particularly after going to the toilet, before, and after, preparing food, and after spending time in crowded places.

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is a treatment for HIV/AIDS. However this only slows the progress of the infection, and does not stop it altogether. The treatment involves many medicines, as the HIV virus can quickly adapt and become immune to a single medicine. HAART is often prescribed to people who’s CD4 count drops

Jonathan McIver AIDS below 350 (500 or more is classed as good). The treatment overly protects patient’s immune system as slows down the actual virus.

In some parts of the world HIV/AIDS is much more common than others, for example, 80% of the worlds deaths from AIDS occur in Africa. 34 million people in sub- Saharan Africa have been infected with HIV since the start of the pandemic, 11.4 million are estimated to have died. One quarter of the population of Zimbabwe is infected with HIV. Zimbabwe is also a central African country, showing that Africa is at high risk of infection of HIV and AIDS.

The countries which show a vast difference in the number of outbreaks of the virus include; • • • Between 20-25% of people aged between 15 and 49 in Botswana and Zimbabwe are infected with HIV. 73,000 people in the UK were living with HIV by the end of 2006, a third were unaware of this. It is thought that more than one million people are living with HIV in the USA and that more than half a million have died after developing AIDS.

Jonathan McIver AIDS • • Government reports claim that over 300,000 Nigerians die yearly of complications arising from AIDS. An estimated 15,670 people were living with HIV in Australia at the end of 2006.

One reason why the statistics of HIV/AIDS may look like this is because countries such as Nigeria and Zimbabwe are less economically developed countries (LEDC’s). This could influence the statistics as many medicines and treatments for the disease cannot be used in such countries, as a result of a lack of funds. Another reason for this set of statistics is that countries such as USA, UK and Australia are often subject to many adverts, and campaigns stating how dangerous unprotected sex is and how drug taking with needles is portrayed as a deadly idea. This influences many people in the countries into practicing these ideas, preventing a widespread outbreak of the virus. The African countries often have very high birth rates, which in turn show us that often, sexual intercourse is unprotected. This contributes to the spreading of HIV as vaginal fluids, semen, and maybe blood are passed from partner to partner, this could rapidly turn into an epidemic. Australian HIV/AIDS Table
Year 1987 and earlier 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Total HIV Male AIDS Female Total** Male Female Total** 7,116 1,297 1,371 1,276 1,162 1,140 986 926 890 887 721 645 685 658 690 825 813 851 928 963 23,428 762 520 599 655 775 752 799 904 773 637 362 305 192 239 189 221 225 183 216 239 9,566 35 15 13 17 26 37 41 45 35 33 32 23 22 24 23 19 16 22 27 19 524 797 536 614 674 804 791 845 953 811 670 395 329 215 263 213 242 242 207 243 261 10,125

6,846 236 1,221 1,295 1,283 1,078 1,051 912 839 818 811 637 550 610 572 593 731 728 724 835 817 21,482 73 74 85 80 88 67 85 71 74 83 94 73 82 95 90 84 126 92 143 1,878

This table shows the HIV rate for Australia between 1987 and 2006. This trend shows us that, over time, the amount of cases with HIV and AIDS has generally decreased. This shows that medicine and treatments developed over time have very much helped to control rates of the outbreak. Also, the rate of infection may have decreased because the idea of AIDS and HIV has become more renowned and well publicised. Therefore more people know how to prevent the disease from spreading.

Jonathan McIver AIDS
The graph also shows that the amount of women with AIDS is far less than the amount of men with the disease. This should be because anal sex is a huge contributor to the spreading of HIV, which eventually turns into AIDS.

A possible action plan for the treatment and prevention of AIDS could consist of: • Alert all/ majority of the population of the country on how to prevent spreading of the disease, including how to practice unprotected sex. Do this through education or public demonstrations. Allow special funding for research and development for treatment of the AIDS disease. Allow free condoms and other forms of protection along with cheap/ free vaccinations for particular types of HIV. Set up screening for blood donators, taken from the idea that the UK have introduced. This would stop the disease spreading through blood transfusions.

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