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HIV/AIDS (Essay Sample)




HIV/AIDS: History
Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) emerged and spread in the United States in early 1980’s. The U.S was the first country in the world to recognize this deadly disease. Dr. Robert C. Gallo and fellow workers discovered the first human retroviruses namely the HTLV-1 and HLTV-2; these came prior to the discovery of the third retrovirus- HIV. During the same period, many cases of an unusual cancer named ‘Kaposi Sarcoma’ were reported in several parts of the United States. Still, in May 1981, about five cases of ‘Pneumocytis Carinii’ were reported; both the two diseases were extremely rare and medical practitioners became concerned with their occurrences which affected gay people mostly. These incidents were then referred to as Gay-Related Immune Deficiency (GRID) and later as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). By 1982, 452 cases had been reported from 23 states in the United States according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) statistics. However, it was not until 1985 that further research confirmed that the disease was caused through heterosexual relations and other ways in which infected body fluids could be transferred from one person to another.
The disease was mostly viewed as a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) associated with gays, prostitutes, drug addicts and promiscuous people (Carlsen, 2001). Between 1986 and 1987, notable progress was made in regards to provide treatment for AIDS patients after clinical testing by Dr. Gallo and a colleague Dr. Samuel Broder showed a drug- Zidovudine (ZAT), was able to slow the HIV virus from attacking body immune cells. Today several other drugs have been discovered and are used in combination- ‘The Cocktail treatment’ to treat HIV/AIDS patients. Nevertheless, in 1998, a first patient was recorded as having a strain of HIV that was resistant to treatment. Even so, there still exists speculation about the true origin of the HIV virus despite many attempts by the media and health scientists to explain the same. It has been said on many occasions that the disease originated in Africa as a heterosexual disease and that it had existed for many years. Nevertheless, this ideology does not explain why the disease transformed into a rampant epidemic that affected homosexuals mostly in America in the 1980s from its supposed origin in Africa where it allegedly infected heterosexuals. Additionally, the disease was still unreported in African countries at the time. This brings about the thoughts held by many that HIV/AIDS could in fact have resulted from human actions of bioengineering.
Over the years, the media actively shunned discussions regarding historical issues of HIV/AIDS, this left out possibilities that other relevant facts about the disease remain squelched and suppressed. In mid 1980s, elements within the Soviet government claimed the United States was responsible for covertly developing the HIV virus at a military facility- Fort Detrick. Their claim was strong since Soviet scientists had worked with American counterparts to transfer viruses and infected organs into apes, chimpanzees and monkeys a few years prior to the breakout of HIV/AIDS in the United States. This claim however vanished in the following years because of improved international relationships.
The case of HIV/AIDS infections in the United Kingdom (U.K) bears some difference from that in the United States where it was discovered more than 30 years ago. The country has experienced a relatively epidemic of the disease in comparison to most countries in the world. In addition, fewer people have perished because of the disease owing to the Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) emphasized in the country. Ever since 1996, the life expectancy of HIV patients in the U.K has increased up to 15 years, although women have a vaguely higher expectancy than men (Public Health England. 2013) do.
The disease was reported in the U.K back in 1982 and was initially perceived as a gay problem. Terry Higgins, a U.K national died of the disease the same year leading to the founding of Terrence Higgins Trust. By 1984, gay men were stopped from donating blood just before HIV was adopted officially as the name for the virus responsible for causing AIDS. By the 2,000 millennium year, cases of heterosexually transmitted HIV infections surpassed those of homosexually transmitted infections with the total number of people infected rising by close to 10% annually but on a decreasing trend.
Public Health policies regarding HIV/AIDS
Many public health problems have emerged over the past years, which include teenage pregnancy, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and the spread of Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), the latter being the most worrying and dire trend. Public health policies focus mostly on instances of substance abuse, which adversely affect the spread and treatment of HIV/AIDS. These substances (drugs) impinge on people’s judgments as well as most vital physiological systems within their bodies including circulatory and respiratory systems (Hope, 2005).. For infected persons, they bring about weight loss, organ damage, weakening of the immune system and even interference with HIV medication. This scenario has brought about increased attention to options of treatment and prevention mechanisms by stakeholders like the government, support groups and non-governmental organizations (Newton, 2012).
Policies regarding public awareness of HIV/AIDS have been emphasized over the past years to shift responsibility to the people. The use of contraceptives and safe sex behavior like abstinence ar...
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