Aids Statistics Essay Summary
AIDS is a life and death issue. To have the AIDS disease is at present a sentence of slow but inevitable death. I’ve already lost one friend to AIDS. I may soon lose others. My own sexual behavior and that of many of my friends have been profoundly altered by it. There currently is neither a cure, nor even an effective treatment, and no vaccine either. But there are things that have been PROVEN immensely effective in slowing the spread of this hideously lethal disease.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Disease. It is caused by a virus.
The disease originated somewhere in Africa about 20 years ago. There it first appeared as a mysterious ailment afflicting primarily heterosexuals of both sexes. It probably was spread especially fast by primarily female prostitutes there. AIDS has already become a crisis of STAGGERING proportions in parts of Africa. In Zaire, it is estimated that over twenty percent of the adults currently carry the virus. That figure is increasing. And what occurred there will, if no cure is found, most likely occur here among heterosexual folks.
AIDS was first seen as a disease of gay males in this country. This was a result of the fact that gay males in this culture in the days before AIDS had an average of 200 to 400 new sexual contacts per year. This figure was much higher than common practice among heterosexual (straight) men or women. In addition, it turned out that rectal sex was a particularly effective way to transmit the disease, and rectal sex is a common practice among gay males. For these reasons, the disease spread in the gay male population of this country immensely more quickly than in other populations. It became to be thought of as a “gay disease”. Because the disease is spread primarily by exposure of one’s blood to infected blood or semen, I.V. drug addicts who shared needles also soon were identified as an affected group.
As the AIDS epidemic began to affect increasingly large fractions of those two populations (gay males and IV drug abusers), many of the rest of this society looked on smugly, for both populations tended to be despised by the “mainstream” of society here. But AIDS is also spread by heterosexual sex. In addition, it is spread by blood transfusions. Newborn babies can acquire the disease from infected mothers during pregnancy. Gradually more and more “mainstream” folks got the disease. Most recently, a member of Congress died of the disease. Finally, even the national news media began to join in the task of educating the public to the notion that AIDS can affect everyone.
Basic medical research began to provide a few bits of information and some help. The virus causing the disease was isolated and identified. The AIDS virus turned out to be a very unusual sort of virus. Its genetic material was not DNA, but RNA. When it infected human cells, it had it’s RNA directs the synthesis of viral DNA. While RNA viruses are not that uncommon, very few RNA viruses reproduce by setting up the flow of information from RNA to DNA. Such reverse or “retro” flow of information does not occur at all in any DNA virus or any other living things.
Hence, the virus was said to belong to the rare group of virus called “Retro Viruses”. Research provided the means to test donated blood for the presence of the antibodies to the virus, astronomically reducing the chance of ones getting AIDS from a blood transfusion. This was one of the first real breakthroughs. The same discoveries that allowed us to make our blood bank blood supply far safer also allowed us to be able to tell (in most cases) whether one has been exposed to the AIDS virus using a simple blood test.
The AIDS virus is extremely fragile and is killed by exposure to mild detergents or to Clorox, among other things. AIDS itself may be transmitted by actual virus particles, or by the transmission of living human cells that contain AIDS viral DNA already grafted onto the human DNA. Or both. Which of these two mechanisms is the main one is not known as I write this essay. But the fact remains that it is VERY hard to catch AIDS unless one engages in certain specific activities.
Some people think you can get AIDS by anything like touching but they are ignorant. Casual contact (shaking hands, hugging, sharing tools) cannot transmit AIDS. Although the live virus has been recovered from the saliva of AIDS patients, the techniques used to do this involved concentrating the virus to extents many thousands of times greater than occurs in normal human contact, such as kissing (including “deep” or “French” kissing). Thus, there remains no solid evidence that even “deep” kissing can transmit AIDS. Similarly, there is no evidence that sharing food or eating utensils with an AIDS patient can transmit the virus. The same is true for transmission by sneezing or coughing. There just is no current evidence that the disease can be transmitted that way. The same may be true even for BITING, though here there may be some increased (though still remote) chance of transmitting the disease.
The above is very important. It means that there is NO medical reason WHAT SO EVER to recommend that AIDS suffers or AIDS antibody positive folks are quarantined. Such recommendations are motivated either by ignorance or by sinister desires to set up concentration camps. Combined with the fact that the disease is already well established in this country, the above also means that there is no rational medical basis for immigration laws preventing visits by AIDS suffers or antibody-positive persons.
The above also means that friends and family and coworkers of AIDS patients and seropositive persons have nothing to fear from such casual contact. There is no reason to not show your love or concern for a friend with AIDS by embracing the person. Indeed, there appears still to be NO rational basis for excluding AIDS suffers from food preparation activity. Even if AIDS suffer cuts his or her finger and bleeds into the salad or soup, most of the cells and virus will die, in most cases, before the food is consumed. In addition, it is extremely difficult to get successfully attacked by AIDS via stuff you eat. AIDS cannot be transmitted by the act of GIVING blood to a blood bank. All equipment used for such blood donation is sterile and is used just once, and then discarded.
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