HIV / AIDS Autoimmune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Essay

Total Length: 884 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

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Autoimmune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) first came to the public's attention in the United States in the early 1980s. In Africa, the cities of Rwanda, Zaire, Zambia and Uganda were decimated, and cases began cropping up all over the world. In rare blood samples dating back to 1959, antibodies to HIV were detected (Crowley, 1993, p. 46), and yet the virus did not seem to become a problem until twenty years later.

It is not known how the virus carried by chimpanzees and harmless to them, was transmitted to the human population. According to Chang (2011), it is most likely that a hunter in West Africa killed a chimpanzee and was infected by the chimp's blood, probably through an open wound. The virus spread as colonial cities were established, but deaths were attributed to other causes. It is unknown exactly when this scenario occurred, but it is thought to have taken place between 1884 and 1924. Thus, AIDS is "an old virus that grew deadly" (Cowley, 1993) and has become epidemic in modern times.

Man has interacted with apes and monkeys for thousands of years. Scientists still do not understand why the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS, became deadly. A virus is a living organism; to survive, it must exploit its host and adapt to any environmental changes.
Nearly a century ago, the influenza virus mutated and spread rapidly, killing nearly twenty million people worldwide. Scientists have suggested that the spread of HIV has followed a similar course.

People afflicted with AIDS, because of their compromised immune systems, are vulnerable to infections and tumors that may not be fatal in people without the disease. Kaposi's sarcoma, for example, is ordinarily a slow-growing cancer but moves quickly in patients who are HIV positive (Medline Plus, 2011).

AIDS quickly got the reputation for being a "gay disease," since the first cases in the United States were seen in young homosexual men. Doctors from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported on a rare parasitic lung infection that had shown up in Los Angeles; the "active homosexuals" tested positive for "an inexplicable depression of their immune function" (Begley, Check, Wingert, and Conway, 2001, p. 34). Movie fans were shocked to see photos of an emaciated Rock Hudson, who eventually died from AIDS. Hudson's death was shocking because of the dramatic change in his appearance as well as the realization that Hudson, handsome, masculine co-star of the film classic Giant, in addition to a string of romantic comedies with Doris Day, was a gay man. Reverend Jerry Falwell called AIDS "proof of society's moral decay," while conservative columnist.....

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