Basic information on AIDS/HIV awareness and sexual disease prevention
AIDS Awareness and What Should be Done to Stay Alive! by Alvin C. Romer
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, commonly referred to its better known acronym, AIDS has definitely become part of the sexual scenario. Back in the day, we treated casual sex as a way of life – indulging without regard to consequences, real or imagined. And if you were really astute in making good choices, you used prophylactics and called it a day. Nowadays AIDS is constantly in your psyche to remind you of this life-threatening phenomena that forces you to be aware of why unprotected sex can kill. Such is the case that you are made to be careful on what you wish for, and with whom you do it with. By now everyone should know who this killer is and its preferred method. In this report you will get clear definitive ideas about it, how one acquires it, the symptoms, and what is being done to treat them. Moreover, it is necessary to dispel the most common myths about AIDS, and will endeavor to be factual in attempts to reiterate what has continually been given heretofore as heightened awareness.
You will be given helpful information as resource guides where help is available. The purpose is to educate and make aware the sol8utiojns to eradicate, hold it at bay and give reasons why abstinence should be the ONLY way to keep it from spreading. Despite efforts worldwide to stem the tide, this virus is spreading among our urban centers and effecting our young Black boys, and most recently at an alarming rate, heterosexual women and other female populations. Somewhere in the mix sex becomes more of a serious venture where dependence on life and death is all in discernable differences where common sense and deductive reasoning share the stage with just doing the right thing. But is it enough?
The Immune System, HIV, and AIDS
There’s quite a bit of speculation as to where AIDS first came from. It’s beginnings have never been discovered. There’s much more of what we DO know, as opposed to the mysteries of this disease. Many experts believe several decades or longer before the earliest cases appeared (1980) that AIDS was present in the United States, Europe, and in Africa a few years before that in simpler forms. HIV was first identified in 1984 by French and American scientists, but the human immunodeficiency virus did not get its name until 1986 after more studies were done to learn more of its association with immunity.
Like any other disease of note, AIDS is far-reaching and can trigger other maladies and viruses. In order to understand the basic workings of AIDS, one must be knowledgeable about how the immune system works, and how it’s relative to HIV. When your immune breaks down there’s no buffer in place to ward off invading germs. Because the immune system cells are destroyed by the AIDS virus, many different types of infections and cancers can develop, taking advantage of a person's weakened immune system. Thus, AIDS can be definitive when diagnosed as an infectious disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. This virus attacks the immune system in the body that helps fight disease. It is the main cause of AIDS. How Is HIV Spread? The virus is spread by contact with blood, semen, vaginal discharge, and breast milk. Other body fluids are known to cause the spread of infection internally. Most people commonly associate getting the virus from having unsafe sex or sharing drug equipment, but there are far-reaching consequences that your body is already in contact with that can trigger immunity issues . You have AIDS when you have a positive HIV test and a T-cell count less than 200. Your blood is made of white and red blood cells. T-cells are a part of your blood's white blood cells.
Before going any further, let’s take a look at the immune system as it relates to T-cells. The body's health is defended by its immune system. White blood cells called lymphocytes, made up of B cells and T cells protect the body from "germs" such as viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. When germs are detected, B cells and T cells are activated to defend the body, and act as protective agents against infection. This process is hindered in the case of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), however. AIDS is a disease in which the body's immune system breaks down efficiently with no natural defense once T-cells are rendered useless. When HIV enters the body, it infects those T cells, where the virus grows. The virus kills these cells slowly, which perpetuates viruses to flourish. As more and more of the T cells die, the body's ability to fight infection weakens. People with HIV infection are said to have AIDS when they are sick with serious illnesses and infections that can occur with HIV. The illnesses tend to occur late in HIV infection, when few or no T cells remain.
A person with HIV infection may remain healthy for many years, and can even enjoy a healthy sex life. Of course, there must be precautionary methods to adhere to, including taking proper medication that has been diagnosed to be hindrances to the malady. Other myths that should be dismissed: Kissing causes AIDS, bodily fluids are infectious, I.e., sweat, tears, urine and saliva.
In preparing this report I was able to visit several AIDS/HIV treatment centers for critical interpretation and to dialogue among the affected. I also visited area junior and senior high schools and colleges to flesh this piece out for legitimacy in gaining grassroots analysis. I asked students to share what they know about HIV, and was appalled at the various hit and misses among the answers elicited from my queries. I wanted to know at such early ages did they actually know how it is transmitted, and what happens to the body once someone contracts the virus. After talking to them at length I got to work. I made them aware that:
There’s a distinct difference between HIV and AIDS. HIV is a virus that severely impairs the immune system by attacking and destroying white blood cells….and that, AIDS is the final stage AFTER acquiring HIV
Of the 40,000 - 50,000 new cases of AIDS reported in the U.S. each year, 42 percent are men who have sex with other men, at least 40 percent are men and women infected by heterosexual sex, and 30 percent were infected by injective drug use, and/or with unsanitary paraphernalia usage
Our youth and women are being infected in greater numbers than ever before. 55 percent of all new reported cases are those under 25, especially among teens and young adults; If you broke that down, it amounts to approximately two young Americans between ages 13- 24 are contacting AIDS every hour! Among women it’s worse. 40 percent of all new AIDS cases are attributed to promiscuous women.
Now here is the kicker: African-Americans account for more than half of ALL AIDS cases. We’re talking about the 60 percentile range. Hispanics on the other hand, are pegged at 20 percent
I was able to give more statistics, using facts culled from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. What astounded me more than anything else was the fact that a part of the nation’s fastest growing people with HIV was Black women . It should be no coincidence that certain social factors make our women of color vulnerable. To wit: Black neighborhoods it is said are more apt to be subjected societal maladies such as joblessness, poverty, prolonged drug use, and the high ration of women to men who are being shuffled continuously in and out of prison that harbors a significantly high rate of HIV infection 10 times higher than the general population! This is serious business. So says Debra Frazier-Howse, CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS in a recent interview. She further lamented that “we should be very afraid….and we should be planning. When women get sick, there is no one left to take care of the family”.
Demystifying myths and recognizing symptoms
It’s important that certain myths and hearsay about AIDS should be explained and give proper definitive attention for greater awareness. With so many epidemics worldwide, real cases of full blown AIDS has quadrupled with has given new meaning and awareness that this is a force to be reckoned with. One must recognize the symptoms, and be prepared to be tested. Did you know that…An HIV-positive person can also receive an AIDS diagnosis on the basis of certain blood tests (CD4 counts) and may not have experienced any serious illnesses. Or that…Primary HIV infection is the first stage of HIV disease, when the virus first establishes itself in the body. Some researchers use the term acute HIV infection to describe the period of time between when a person is first infected with HIV and when antibodies against the virus are produced by the body (usually 6- 12 weeks). Some people newly infected with HIV will experience some "flu-like" symptoms. These symptoms, which usually last no more than a few days, might include fevers, chills, night sweats and rashes (not cold-like symptoms). Other people either do not experience "acute infection," or have symptoms so mild that they may not notice them. Given the general character of the symptoms of acute infection, they can easily have causes other than HIV, such as a flu infection. For example, if you had some risk for HIV a few days ago and are now experiencing flu-like symptoms, it might be possible that HIV is responsible for the symptoms, but it is also possible that you have some other viral infection. A positive HIV test does not mean that a person has AIDS.
Did you know too, that…..The only way to determine whether you are infected is to be tested for HIV infection. You can't rely on symptoms to know whether or not you are infected with HIV. Many people who are infected with HIV don't have any symptoms at all for many years. Paradoxically, you can't rely on symptoms to establish that a person has AIDS. The symptoms associated with AIDS are similar to the symptoms of many other diseases. AIDS is a diagnosis made by a doctor based on specific criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Preventions and Solutions
In closing, there’s no need ever to throw caution to the wind in dealing with AIDS/HIV. In general avocation of the following would go a long way in prevention and having viable solutions.
All generation should be open to talk about sex related problems, including abstaining from sexual activity to avoid becoming infected. It should be noted that being faithful to practice monogamous relations by limiting exposure to create stronger unions. There will be times for those that will not adhere to abstinence and it wouldn’t be an option, or may not be in a monogamous relationship. If this is the case, encouragement should be to use protection.
Grass root level programming and community outreach communiqués to reach as many people possible to educate, inform and stimulate awareness for challenge and change. More should be done to encourage people to reduce their number of sexual partners. David Wilson, senior monitoring and evaluation specialist for the World Bank’ Global HIV/AIDS Program writes that it is a "simple truth" that without multiple sex partnerships the HIV/AIDS pandemic would not occur and "by extension, partner reduction is the most obvious, yet paradoxically neglected approach to the prevention of HIV." Wilson says that the "Education and debate" authors' position that partner reduction is the "potential centerpiece of a unified ABC approach is good common sense." Wilson adds that partner reduction "is good epidemiology, not good ideology, and we must ensure that the ABC approach remains sufficiently scientifically grounded to withstand shifting ideological sands." He concludes, “We must foster endogenous responses founded primarily on the resources, capital and leadership within communities while enhancing research to ensure these responses are understood, evaluated and illuminated by science"
In closing, sexual contact and other means to extract a deadly virus affecting the immune system should be minimized by making the right choices. Abstinence is the preferred option for those that are not ready for sex, and safeguards should be preferable for those that are willing to take risks. Ongoing efforts worldwide are battling mightily to find cures for this deadly virus and nothing should stop you from doing what is necessary to stay alive!