WHAT IS AIDS AND WHO GETS IT?
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) refers to an impairment of the immune system. When this system is not functioning correctly, the individual becomes vulnerable to unusual infections and other illnesses, many of which can be life threatening. In the absence of a specific test, not yet available. It is only when the AIDS patient develops one of these unusual illnesses that the syndrome becomes identifiable.
Most AIDS victims have been associated with specific risk groups. Since 1979, about 70% of cases reported in the United States have been among gay and bisexual men. Other risk groups include intravenous drug users, Haitian immigrants. And hemophiliacs. More than 90% of people with AIDS are men. Most of the cases of AIDS in women have occurred among intravenous drug users. There have been no known cases of AIDS among lesbians.
The complications of AIDS may appear as early as a few months after development of the altered immune state, but may not appear for as long as two years or more. Available evidence suggests that AIDS is transmitted by blood, tissue. And secretions that may contain blood such as semen, urine or stool. Though this has not been proven. No one has contracted the disease through casual or even close daily contact in fact. Family members, other than sex partners of people with AIDS, have not developed AIDS. Scientists now believe is nor highly contagious.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
Very recent research has shown a strong association between a virus known as HTLV-III, a newly discovered subgroup of the human T-cell leukemia virus and AIDS. The virus itself has been isolated from more than one-third of patients with full-blown AIDS and from nearly 90% of individuals with symptom indication that they may have an early form of the disease. Antibodies to HTLV-III have been found in 90 to 100% of AIDS patients. A finding that indicates that they have been infected with the agent. These findings have been made simultaneously in France at the Pasteur institute and at the National Institutes of Health in the United States.
These findings may make it possible to develop a diagnostic test for AIDS. The development of a vaccine for the virus would be the next step. Some researchers have suggested that testing of such a vaccine may begin toward the end of this decade.
ILLNESSES ASSOCIATED WITH AIDS:
Because their immunity is impaired, people with AIDS become susceptible to a variety of illnesses, which are neither new nor specific for those with AIDS. These include "opportunistic infections". Such as pheumocystis carnii pneumonia, chronic cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, unusually severe shingles and herpes simplex, and certain bacteria (including one which causes a form of tuberculosis). Kaposis sarcoma (KS), a skin cancer, has also been associated with AIDS.
SYMPTOMS OF AIDS:
The sign and symptoms of AIDS are these of the secondary illnesses. There is no specific test for AIDS. While none of the following symptoms are specific for the AIDS syndrome, a physician should check them out if they occur:
TAKING PREVENTIVE MEASURES:
If you are in one of the risk groups, it is important that your take measures to reduce the possibility of getting AIDS. This may require significant changes in lifestyles: for example. Changing the way your think about sex and your sexual behavior. You should talk about this in depth with a knowledgeable health care provider or counselor.
Most Researchers agree that:
Therefore, the risk of AIDS can be lessened by:
WHAT FRIENDS AND ROOMMATES OF GAY MEN SHOULD KNOW ABOUT AIDS
Because AIDS has received so much attention, rumors have developed about how the disease spreads and about how susceptible those not in the high risk groups might be it bears repeating AIDS is not spread by causal contact and that total number of cases has been very low. The vast majority of gay men do not have AIDS. You cannot get AIDS by sitting next to a gay person in class, from swimming at a public pool, from eating with your gay roommate.
Because of the concern about this disease, which has many "unknowns", people who former considered them selves accepting of other lifestyles
may now be afraid to associate with their gay friends. This stigma is unfair when the facts are considered.
WHAT IF A FRIEND HAS AIDS?
A person with AIDS needs the same kind of support you have always given as a friend. He is likely to feel isolated. You can help him socially and psychologically be continuing to share activities and feeling free to talk as you normally would. At the same time be sensible. If your arent feeling well yourself, dont expose a friend with AIDS to what could be dangerous illness for him.
HEALTH CARE STUDENT AND OTHERS IN HEALTH CARE SETTINGS
Health care workers do not appear to have a high risk of contracting AIDS. Most (but not all) cases in health care worker have occurred in your professional activities. The infection control guidelines for AIDS are like Hepatitis B.
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