Aids Essay, Research Paper
The issue of HIV/AIDS has been a developing concern since the early 1980’s. It is an issue that has sparked fear in everyone, but “society” has narrowed it down to certain people that can contract the AIDS virus. The stereotypical “AIDS” victim is not an IV drug user or a practicing homosexual; it is anyone, anyone who has unprotected sex, anyone who has had a blood transfusion in the past twenty years, or anyone who was innocently brought into the world by an infected mother. As unfair as it is, HIV/AIDS can attack someone whom society would have never “branded” as a stereotypical AIDS victim. This issue of HIV/AIDS needs to be addressed, and it needs to be addressed now. The epidemic of HIV/AIDS is on the rise in the state of Massachusetts. As many as 15,000 residents may be infected with the virus and not be aware of it and the majority of these victims are between the ages of twenty and forty. The only solution to this problem, as is the only solution to any problem, is prevention through education. Of course it is easy to hand out literature and condoms to adults, but are they really going to listen? As a community, we can encourage HIV/AIDS testing, but will it be taken advantage of? Since these are adults being familiarized with HIV/AIDS, how to contract it, the consequences, and the raw statistics, they will probably disregard all of the information. Education on the issue of HIV/AIDS obviously needs to begin at an earlier age. HIV is spread most commonly by sexual contact with an infected partner. The virus can enter the body through the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis, rectum or mouth during sex. HIV also is spread through contact with infected blood. Prior to the screening of blood for evidence of HIV infection and before the introduction in 1985 of heat-treating techniques to destroy HIV in blood products, HIV was transmitted through transfusions of contaminated blood. Today, because of blood screening and heat treatment, the risk of acquiring HIV from such transfusions is extremely small. HIV frequently is spread among injection drug users by the sharing of needles or syringes contaminated with minute quantities of blood of someone infected with the virus. However, transmission from patient to health-care worker or vice-versa via accidental sticks with contaminated needles or other medical instruments is rare. Although researchers have detected HIV in the saliva of infected individuals, no evidence exists that the virus is spread by contact with saliva. Laboratory studies reveal that saliva has natural compounds that inhibit the infectiousness of HIV. Studies of people infected with HIV have found no evidence that the virus is spread to others through saliva such as by kissing. No one knows, however, the risk of infection from so-called “deep” kissing, involving the exchange of large amounts of saliva, or by oral intercourse. Scientists also have found no evidence that HIV is spread through sweat, tears, urine or feces. Studies of families of HIV-infected people have shown clearly that HIV is not spread through casual contact such as the sharing of food utensils, towels and bedding, swimming pools, telephones or toilet seats. HIV cannot spread by insects such as mosquitoes or bedbugs. HIV can infect anyone who shares drug needles or syringes, or by having sexual contact without using protection. Since this is such a controversial issue, the age at which education should begin is debatable. The children need to be mature enough to handle the concerns and they need to be young enough to begin practicing measures of safety that will continue throughout their lives. But, when it comes down to it, education of HIV/AIDS should begin when these children are able to understand that sharing blood can be dangerous. A good example of this situation is a five- year-old boy confronting his mom and saying that he and his best friend are going to prick their fingers and become “blood brothers.” A response that will give a good reason why this should not be done and provide information about HIV/AIDS would be: ” Some people have some things in their blood that can make you very sick and sharing blood is not a good idea.” An alternate solution would be to use a sterilized needle to prick their fingers and have them drop blood onto the ground and rub it into the dirt with their feet. Under these circumstances, the children have been supervised while blood is present and have been informally educated about HIV/AIDS. This may never happen, in which case, children should be made aware of HIV/AIDS at the same time the “drug” and “sex talks” are being given. This way the topics are being interrelated and connections can be made. Examples of these connections may include using drugs with needles or having unprotected sex that can result in the contraction of the virus. Not only is it the responsibility of the parents to discuss this concern with their children, but it is also that of the school system. As a community, we are all responsible for protecting ourselves and more importantly, others. It would be upsetting to realize that one of the more than 15,000 HIV/AIDS victims in the state of Massachusetts is someone you know. Moreover, it would be devastating to discover that you could have provided the education that could have prevented the spread of this life-taking disease to your friend.