HIV and AIDS
HIV, which stands for human immunodeficiency virus, is the virus that causes AIDS. This virus can be passed from one another through blood to blood and sexual contact. A person with HIV has an incredibly weak immune system, causing them to contract one of numerous disease that causes AIDS, which stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
Someone cannot “get” AIDS. They can only get the HIV virus. HIV is spread through blood, semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, and other body fluids containing blood. Blood has the highest concentration of the virus, followed by semen, and then vaginal fluids. Breast milk also contains a high concentration of HIV. An adult, however can drink a small amount with no risk of getting the virus, while infants, with their small bodies and their developing immune system, is very much at risk.
There are generally three ways to get the HIV virus: direct blood contact, including drug needles and blood transfusions, unprotected sex, and mother to baby, either before or during birth, or through breast milk.
A needle can pass blood directly from one person’s bloodstream to another. It is an easy way for HIV to quickly spread from one person to another. Also, if needles are not disposed properly, people can get infected. There has been a reported accident in which a nurse tripped and fell on a depressor of a syringe full of blood. The entire contents entered her body. Also reported was a lab worker who cut himself with a test-tube of infected blood.
Since March 1985, all donated blood in the U.S. has been screened with the HIV antibody test. This practice has almost eliminated the risk of getting HIV through a blood transfusion. Before then, people had a larger chance of getting the virus from a person whose background was unclear.
During sexual intercourse, whether anal or vaginal, HIV can slip in through unnoticed cuts and sores. The virus, however, has a lesser chance of entering the bloodstream during oral sex. Males also have a greater chance of infecting females than females infecting males.
Approximately 20% of all babies born to HIV positive mother will have the virus. Studies have shown that the likelihood of infecting the baby is reduced to 2% if the mother has a c-section performed prior to labor. Other studies are being done to see whether or not vaginal cleansing reduces the transmission.
As of the end of 1999, an estimated 33.6 million people worldwide were living with HIV or AIDS. About 32.4 million of these people are adults and 1.2 million are children younger than 15 years old.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 650,000 to 900,000 Americans have the HIV infection. About 200,000 of these people are unaware that they are infected, and around 400,000 total people have died. More than 40,000 people in the United States alone are infected every year. In the United States, about 70% of the newly infected people are men and 30% are women. Of these people, half are younger than 25 years old.
Data collected from 29 states that conduct surveillance data indicate that among HIV infected adolescents aged 13-19, 48% are male, 52% are female, 29% are non-Hispanic white, 65% are non-Hispanic black, 1% are Hispanic, and less that 1% are an Asian/Pacific islander or American Indian/Alaskan native.
Other statistics are as follows:
- Of the 11,582 full blown AIDS cases in adolescents under 20 years old, 6,463 have been diagnosed with AIDS under 5 years old, 1,817 have been diagnosed between 5 and 12 years old, and 3,302 have been diagnoses between 13 and 19 years old.
- AIDS ranks seventh among the causes of death for American children 5 to 14 years old and sixth for adolescents 15 to 24 years old. Most young adults were likely infected in their youth.
- In 1999, more than 7,500 adolescents became infected with HIV everyday – that’s more than 5 every minute.
- In 1999, HIV/AIDS associated illnesses caused the deaths of about 2.6 million people worldwide, including 470,000 children younger than 15 years old.
- Of new infections among men in the U.S., about 60% were infected through homosexual sex, 25% through injection drug use, and 15% through heterosexual sex.
The only way to determine whether or not you are infected with HIV is to be tested. There may or may not be any symptoms and some people don’t develop symptoms for many years.
There is currently no cure for HIV/AIDS. There are, however, anti-HIV drugs that can be taken to prevent the disease. Right now, there are 11 types of anti-HIV drugs that are available by prescription. There is also a new type of test which measures how well anti-HIV drugs are working. The test is called the viral load test, and measures the amount of HIV in the blood. Researchers are finding that the level of HIV in the blood is linked to a person’s risk of getting sick. A study has shown that using drug treatments to lower the level of HIV can reduce the chances that a person will get sick.
A less common practice of treating AIDS is Yoga. The primary focus of Yoga is on the poses as well as breathing exercises. For people dealing with HIV or AIDS, Yoga is focused on restorative poses that work even for people in a weakened state. Props are used for support in different positions so that gravity can realign and stimulate the body. Inverted poses, such as a headstand, are also used to stimulate the immune system. Yoga can also help stabilize the emotions of someone who is very stressed out.
Although there is no proof that that Yoga can halt or reverse the progression of HIV or AIDS, studies have shown that exercise and reduced stress can help.
Alex’s View on HIV and AIDS
I think that AIDS is a terrible disease and people should better protect themselves in order to prevent getting it. People should be more careful about the things they choose to do, such as sharing needles and having unprotected sex. I think that for the people who do have it, the government should spend more money on it and do more research on it. It’s really awful that some people got the HIV virus from blood transfusions, and the government really should care more about this.
Mike’s View on HIV and AIDS
It’s very good that the schools are emphasizing on abstinence more than having safe sex, since safe sex isn’t exactly “safe” when it comes to getting HIV. Using needles itself is very dangerous, sharing them just poses a greater risk of getting diseases. I don’t know why anyone would want to inject something into themselves anyway. People should really think twice before doing things. It just takes one second to think and say, “Wait, this is stupid,” and not do it. For someone who has AIDS and looks back to see what they did, whether it was having unprotected sex or injecting poison into your body, it’s really sad to think that it could have been prevented. The main thing is: think about your future before doing something stupid.