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Aids Virus

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AIDS virus research papers note that when first case of the sa virus was diagnosed in the United States, neither doctors nor medical practitioners knew how to treat the disease.  Because of the lack of scientific research, many suffering from the complications of the disease were left in hospitals and nursing homes to die without any intervention.  By the mid 80s, however, science had evolved such that new drug therapies were being initiated to help patients deal with the disease.  Aids VirusAlthough they were not a cure, these therapies helped to prolong the life of the patient infected with AIDS by 2 to 5 years.  Today, new drugs, known as protease inhibitors, are able to combat the disease by stopping its replication.  These drugs, when administered in regular doses can control the disease for up to 15 years.  Despite all of the advances that have been made in the war against AIDS, the reality is that there still is no cure for this disease.

AIDS and Public Awareness

As the AIDS disease continues to spread, public awareness about the virus, its mode of transmission and associated complications, have left many individuals living with the disease pariahs in their own communities:

  • The possibility of discrimination—of loss of employment or residence;
  • A risk of public shunning;
  • A possibility of psychological distress acute enough to lead to suicide;

Almond further notes that these consequences are often perpetrated on people that pose little or no threat to society and are capable of living in good heath for many years to come.

The Life Cycle of the AIDS Virus

Since the discovery of the disease, significant gains have been made in discovering how the disease works and how it kills its victims. The retrovirus HIV has a core of RNA. After HIV enters cells, it translates RNA to DNA, which is incorporated into cellular DNA where new viral particles are created. HIV usually infects CD4 cells, resulting in a gradual loss of the cells and the cellular immune response. Before treatment options were developed, an individual could have the HIV virus for eight years before it developed into AIDS. Once AIDS develops, a person is at severe risk of dying from the opportunist infections produced by HIV. Although HIV results in the development of AIDS, not all HIV positive individuals have the AIDS disease.

Individuals with HIV may remain symptom free for a number of years. The first signs of infection are usually enlarged lymph nodes. Other signs will develop over time due to decreases in immunity. These infections include thrush in the mouth or upper throat, shingles involving two episodes in more than one skin area, pelvic inflammatory diseases and listeriosis among others. The number of illnesses increases as the CD4 count falls. HIV infected individuals are also at risk for many malignancies including cervical cancer and primary brain lymphoma.

HIV antibodies can go undiscovered in the human body for some time. Although testing procedures have improved, it is possible for an infected person to get a clean bill of health the first time the test is performed. The chances for an HIV partner to infect his or her disease free sexual partner is about 1 in 300, while 1 in 350 individuals receive the infection by way of a needle stick. The presence of other sexually transmitted diseases increases the likelihood of HIV infection.

The new AIDS medications introduced within the last decade allow individuals who are HIV position to live life longer and with a greater quality than before. Even though the virus has developed a resistance to many of these drugs, most patients are still able to use them for the successful treatment of HIV and AIDS. Additionally, the development of new drugs and new treatment strategies has decreased the number of pills an infected person has to take on a daily basis from 20 to just one or two daily.

Many new treatment strategies involve combinations of medications aimed at reducing the required dosage as well as undesirable side effects due to drug family combinations. Some of these strategies include increasing the strength of individual tablets to using more drug combinations in the same drug category.

To date, there is no cure for AIDS. Although new drug therapies are making life easier for those who develop the disease, a majority of these individuals will still die at a younger age. If the predictions of researchers are correct, a cure may be found in the near future. Until then, only the symptoms of the disease can be effectively treated.

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