Today’s Plague: A Brief Overview and History of HIV/AIDS The human immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) HIV comes from a group of viruses called lentiviruses. These types of viruses other than HIV, have been found in various non-human animals of the primate family. A descendent of the simian (monkey) immunodeficiency virus (SIV), HIV is believed to have been passed down from animals to humans in a process called zoonosis. Researchers concluded that HIV could have been transferred as a result of a human killing a chimp and eating it for food. Chimpanzees Believed To Be The Carries Of HIV+ Currently there are two types of HIV virus: HIV-1 and HIV-2. Worldwide, HIV-1 predominates, and generally, when people refer HIV without specifying the type, they are speaking of HIV-1.
Both types of the virus are transmitted through the blood, sexual fluids, or from mother to child, however, HIV-2 is less easily transmitted and the period between initial infection and illness is longer. HIV-1 mutates without difficulty and this causes many strains to the virus classified under groups that differ greatly such as the subtypes group O and group M. These subtypes have a different genetic composition are distributed unevenly throughout the world. It has also been found that these subtypes are predominately associated with different methods of contact. For example, subtype B has been linked to homosexual contact and intravenous drug use via blood.
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web > Historical Background The earliest known HIV infections recorded were a plasma sample taken from a man in 1959 living in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, tissue samples from an African-American teenager who died in St. Louis in 1969, and in tissue samples containing HIV found in a Norwegian sailor who died around 1976. The analysis in 1998 from the sample taken in 1959 suggests that HIV-1 was introduced to humans in the 1940 s or 1950 s. Other scientists infer that the introduction to humans could have occurred more than 100 years before the 1940 s and 1950 s. Some scientists have even hypothesized that HIV spread from monkeys to humans as early as 1675 and became an unknown epidemic as early as the 1930 s. Yet, there is no exact prediction of when the virus may have emerged.
It could have been present in Africa and the Americas at the same time or emerged many years earlier in the Americas. HIV engulfed the world in a short span of years. There are many reasons contributed to this such as international travel, the blood industry and the widespread of drug use. The role of international travel is highlighted by the case of the flight attendant most commonly known as ‘patient zero’ who travel extensively around the world and contaminated individuals in several American cities. With the beginnings of the blood industry came the demands for blood donors. Several countries such as the US paid blood donors, including Early AIDS Blood Samples intravenous drug users.
This blood was then distributed worldwide. In the 1960 s, hemophiliacs began to benefit from a new blood clotting process called Factor VIII. To produce the coagulant, thousands of individual donors were pooled making it an easy target for HIV to infect hemophiliacs. In the 1970 s, a growth of heroin use was seen after the Vietnam War leading to increased intravenous drug use.
The development of plastic syringes and the opening of shooting galleries (places where people bought heroin and rented the equipment) provided another way for HIV to seep through the nations. From the 1970 s to 1980, an approximate of 100, 000- 300, 000 persons may have been infected with HIV during its latent period. In 1981 cases of rare diseases began to emerge such as PCP and Kaposi’s Sarcoma, mostly in homosexual men, bringing forth the beginnings of the HIV/AIDS awareness in the US. Around this time, theories began to develop about these infections and cancers. Because so little was known, there seemed to be no concern of contagion. Any hypotheses made were disproved months later due to the quick changing forms of the infection.
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In December 1981, the first cases of PCP in injecting drug users classified target groups for the infection. In 1982, the disease still did not have a name, but many were referring it as CDC and GRID (gay-related immune deficiency), among others. Finally in August, the disease was referred to by its new name AIDS, an abbreviation of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. By this time organizations such as San Francisco AIDS Foundation (S FAF), AIDS Project Los Angeles (A PLA), and Gay Men’s health Crisis (GMC) were set up in the USA and UK. In December of that year, a 20 month-old child died to an AIDS related disease after receiving multiple blood transfusions. This brought a concern of the world’s blood supply.
On that same month, cases of AIDS were found to have been transmitted from mother to child. Harold Jaffe of the CDC for Newsweek said, .”.. Up until then it was entirely a gay epidemic, and it was easy for the average person to say ‘So what?’ Now everyone could relate.” Throughout 1982, cases were being reported several countries other than the US. A disease in Africa called ‘slim’ was found to be another form of AIDS. In 1983, it was learned that the disease could be passed on heterosexually from a man to a woman. There was also a greater awareness for hemophiliacs.
Some of them were receiving blood transfusions from approximately up to 5000 different donors. In May 1983, doctors at the Institute Pasteur in France reported that they had isolated the virus named lymphadenopathy-associated virus (LAV) believed to be the cause of AIDS. In Europe two separate AIDS epidemics were occurring. One was linked to Africa and the other to gay men who had visited the US. In France and Belgium AIDS was occurring mainly in people from Central Africa or those with links to the area, while in the West Germany, Denmark, and UK the majority of people with AIDS were homosexual. When the first European World Health Organization met in October of that year, it was reported that there had been 2, 803 AIDS cases in the US and by the end of that year the number of cases had risen to 3, 064 and of these 1, 292 had died.
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In 1984, the Center for Disease Control continued the investigation of AIDS through the contact of several homosexual men in Los Angeles and New York. They found several links to a single man they referred to as ‘Patient O’ or otherwise known as ‘patient zero,’ creating an urban myth that one man had been the sole cause for the spread of the disease in the US. Just one month later, the Margaret Heckler, Secretary United States Health and Human Services, announced that Dr. Robert Gallo of the National Cancer Institute had isolated the virus which caused AIDS. It was named HTLV-III, and she stated that there would soon be a test available for the virus.
Dr. Robert Gallo The announcement included the statement, “We hope to have a vaccine [against AIDS] ready for testing in about two years.” In other major cities of the US, public concern of the virus began to manifest such as the case of San Francisco, where all the gay bath houses and private sex clubs were closed. By the end of 1984, there had been 7, 699 AIDS cases and 3, 665 deaths in the USA, and 762 cases had been reported in Europe. In January 1985, the U. S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed the first blood test for AIDS which would reveal the presence of antibodies to HTLV-III, and it was announced that anyone who had antibodies in their blood would not in future be allowed to donate blood.
In April of that year, 2000 people gathered for the first international Conference on AIDS held in Atlanta. After the conference, the World Health Organization or WHO organized an international meeting to consider the AIDS pandemic and to commence worldwide action. The fear of AIDS began to take a discriminatory approach during this time as hemophiliacs were seen as ‘innocent victims’ and gays and drugs users seen as having brought the disease upon themselves. “In 1985, at 13, Ryan White became a symbol of the intolerance that is inflicted on AIDS victims. Once it became known that White, a hemophiliac, had contracted the disease from a tainted blood transfusion, school officials banned him from classes.” – Time Magazine. Tombstone of Ryan White As new methods for combating the disease surfaced, more challenges arose.
During 1985, the first report appeared where the transmission of the virus from mother to child through breast feeding had occurred. At this time, the first case of AIDS reported in China and subsequently in every region in the world. By the end of this year, 20, 303 cases of AIDS had been reported to the WHO, 15, 948 cases of AIDS had been reported in the US, and 275 cases were reported to the UK. In 1986, the UK launched the first international campaign under the slogan that read “Don’t Aid AIDS.” At this time there was still a major controversy of the name for the virus as several countries called it by different names. The International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses ruled out all disputes in May 1986 with a new name, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).
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In September, the first of medical treatment for AIDS was discovered.
A drug called azidothymidine (AZT) was proven to slow down the attack of the AIDS virus. AZT was first synthesized in 1964 as a possible anticancer drug but it proved ineffective. Unfortunately, by the end of the year, 38 countries reported 38, 401 cases of AIDS to the WHO. During this time, there were no assumptions as to the impact of this disease.
AIDS epidemic has become one of the most significant health-related events of the 20 th century. web, web web > The HIV Life Cycle The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks the helper T-cells, essential to our immune system. The virus begins by binding to the CD 4 receptors in the host cell, which are proteins on the surface of certain cells, causing the membranes of each to fuse together. Once this occurs, HIV enters the cell and releases the RNA.
HIV is a retrovirus, meaning that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) Host Cell (Helper T-cell) the information is not coded in DNA, but rather RNA and undergoes a reverse transcription into DNA with the help of a protein called transcriptase that the virus carries into the cell. Once the genetic material converts into DNA, it enters the host cell nucleus and begins the integration into the genetic material of the cell. The viral DNA is then transcribed into many RNA for the production of the protective shell and helper and anchor proteins for the production of new viruses. After this process is completed, thousands of ‘bubbles’ containing the proteins attach to the cell membrane. Finally, the RNA information is added and that section of the cell membrane turns inside out, releasing the new viruses outside the cell.
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By weakening the host cell with the release of new virus particles, the cell soon dies. This is the reason why HIV attacks the immune system. The Spread of HIV The spread of HIV is not simple as many may think. Because HIV must get past the body’s defenses such as skin and saliva, sneezing or coughing and sharing such items as clothes or a drink won’t aid to the risk of becoming infected. HIV is transmitted through the blood and sexual fluids inside the body. During sexual activity, an open sore or wound is a way for the virus to seep through the opening through the sharing of sexual fluids.
Even kissing or engaging in oral sex with an individual infected can be dangerous if particles of blood are transmitted from one person to another. Blood can come from flossing your teeth, from mouth sores caused by gum disease, or by eating very hot or sharp food. HIV can also spread from a mother to a child during pregnancy, delivery, and through the mother’s breast milk. The sharing of needles for drug use is another way to spread this disease. The Causes of AIDS When an HIV-infected individual begins to show signs of a significantly weakened immune system and the signs of HIV infection are severe, that individual is diagnosed with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) illness. First recognized in 1981, it has become a worldwide epidemic.
By impairing and ultimately destroying the cells of the immune system, HIV/AIDS progressively destroys the body’s ability to fight off infections and certain cancers. AIDS is currently defined in adults and adolescents thirteen years and older through the presence of one of twenty-six conditions such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), a condition particularly rare in people without HIV infection. Also, an individual may be diagnosed if their CD 4 T-cell count falls under 200 cells / cubic millimeter (mm 3) of blood (healthy individuals range from 600-1, 500 /mm 3 of blood).
web > World Demographics People newly infected with HIV in 2002 Total: 5 million Adults: 4. 2 million Women: 2 million Children < 15 Years: 800, 000 Number of people living with HIV/AIDS in 2002 Total: 42 million Adults: 38. 6 million Women: 19.
2 million Children < 15 Years: 3. 2 million AIDS deaths in 2002 Total: 3. 1 million Adults: 2. 5 million Women: 1. 2 million Children < 15 Years: 610, 000 Total no.
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of AIDS deaths since the beginning of the epidemic until the end of 2001 Total: 21. 8 million Adults: 17. 5 million Women: 9 million Children < 15 Years: 4. 3 million Total no.
of AIDS orphans since the beginning of the epidemic until the end of 2001 Total: 14 million HIV+ woman 7-yr. old boy living with AIDS HIV+ S. African Man web > Statistics in the USA According to the new CDC data, as of June 2001, 793, 026 AIDS cases had been recorded in the United States since the epidemic began two decades ago, with 457, 667 deaths. The agency estimates that 850, 000 Americans are living with an HIV infection but that as many as half of them are undiagnosed, untreated or both. Men who have sex with men represent 42% of the new cases, heterosexuals of both sexes represent 33%, and injection-drug users 25%.
African Americans account for 54% of new infections, Caucasians for 26%, Latinos 19% and others 1%. Like blacks, Latinos, who make up less than 13% of the U. S. population, are disproportionately affected.
Two-thirds of HIV-positive individuals in the U. S. are sexually active and that, among those, 25% to 43% — depending on age and gender — practice unsafe sex at least part of the time. web.