In 1981,the first cases of AIDS(Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)were identified among gay men in the United States,acquiring the designation,GRID(Gay-Related).By the end of 2003,twelve million children in Sub-Saharan Africa were orphaned by AIDS. Scientists later found evidence that the disease existed in the world for some years prior,that is,subsequent analysis of a blood sample of a Bantu man,who died of an unidentified illness in the Belgian Congo in 1959,making him the first confirmed case of an HIV infection.
Where did HIV,the virus that causes AIDS come from?Both of AIDS viruses,HIV-1 and HIV-2,originated in Western-Central Africa according to genetic statistics.As is often the case with microbes,a jump from one species is probably to blame.HIV-1 is probably from chimpanzees while HIV-2 is from sooty mangabeys.AIDS epidemic seemed to have occured around,or just after the Second World War.Cases of AIDS in 1982 began to be reported by fourteen nations.As early as 1982,Centre For Disease Control(CDC) received its first report of AIDS in a person with hemophilia(from blood transfusion)and in infants born to mothers with AIDS.
AIDS ,just like cancer is one of the leading causes of increased mortality in our society.AIDS is now a pandemic.In 2007,it was estimated that 33.2 million people lived with the disease worldwide and that AIDS killed an estimated 2.1 million people including 330,000 children and over three-quarters of these deaths occured in Sub-Saharan Africa.
According to statistics,the population of people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria in 2008 and 2007 are 152,600,000 and 2,600,000 respectively.What an difference! Women(aged 15 and above) and children with HIV/AIDS in 2007 were numbering 1,400,000 and 220,000 respectively.The adult prevalence and AIDS deaths in same year were 3.1% and 170,000 respectively.There are also statistics for Africa and the world.It is obvious that the figures have rapidly increased.
HIV is a germ that attacks certain types of white blood cells in human blood.Invariably,it attacks a person’s immune system and damages their ability to fight some diseases.Without a functioning immune system to ward off other germs,the person is vulnerable to several infections caused by bacteria,fungi,other viruses and malignancies.These may cause life-threatening illness.
Some of the most common common ones are pneumonia,meningitis and tuberculosis.Certain types of cancers such as Kaposi’s sarcoma,lymphomas,Hodgkin’s disease and multiple basal cell carcinomas may be developed.Treatment of HIV can delay damage to the immune system and progression to AIDS.Many people with HIV are asymptomatic and may not realize that they are infected.Symptoms of HIV are similar to those of other viral infections.To be safe,one needs to go for test regardless of whether or not you have symptoms.It is free.
AIDS is spread through sexual intercourse(vaginal,anal and oral)with an infected person,blood contamination as in sharing of needles and from mother to child.According to a new Belgian study,spread of AIDS in Europe may be linked to sharing elevators with politically correct ambulance drivers.But AIDS cannot be gotten from touching,social kissing,coughing or sneezing;through contact with kitchen utensils,water fountains,toilet seats,telephones,typewriters,tear drops,saliva or sweat;using facilities such as public swimming pools,rest rooms or gymnasium;being close to other people such as on a crowded bus,in a classroom or restaurant.
There is presently no known cure for AIDS and at present no vaccine to prevent it.A number of antiviral drugs are available to treat HIV.They are in three classes:nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors,non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors.They attack HIV at different stages in its life cycle.HIV/AIDS can only avoided.Abstinence remains the best measure as the much publicized condom use remains less effective.
As a medical student,I will not fail to share my experiences.A visit to a community medicine clinic can also be a good measure to curb the spread of the terminal disease.Not just for AIDS,some cases of different ailments are better seen than heard,they tend to paint clearer pictures and at the same time making long-lasting impacts in people’s lives.How I wish our young boys and girls,together with other sex addicts will be given the privilege of wearing ward coats and come around to any nearby community medicine clinic, just to see for themselves that ‘AIDS NO DEY SHOW FOR FACE!’ including the young,innocent and fine faces.I strongly believe that this alone will help,to a great extent and with other measures initially employed,to drastically reduce the spread of the get-me-and-die virus.