[Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome]
The disease is one, but hundreds of governments and thousands of dedicated professionals put up a united fight to conquer it. No other disease in the contemporary world has attracted such concern and wide publicity as AIDS: this four letter word sends shivers down the spine. It has already infected millions around the world and killed more man 35,000 people. The AIDS started in mid 1981 and ever since has been hitting the headlines off and on. It was first reported by a team of American doctors who found a rare type of pneumonia in some young male homosexuals.
The symptoms of patients, attacked by AIDS are tiredness, fever, lack of appetite and loss of weight etc. Anyone with these symptoms which continue for more than two weeks should consult a doctor. Most individuals infected with AIDS virus have no symptoms and feel well because the time between infection and the out coming of symptoms range from six months to five years or more. Also, infection with AIDS virus may not lead to the dreaded disease in some cases.
There are no clear cut symptoms that indicate loss of immunity by infection with AIDS virus. Thus the diagnosis of AIDS depends mainly on the presence of opportunistic diseases that indicate the loss of immunity and a positive test for antibodies to AIDS virus in blood system.
Anyone carrying AIDS virus may be contagious even if that person has no symptoms. However, casual contact with AIDS patients or infected persons does not lead to AIDS disease. Household contact, care and nursing AIDS patients do not cause for the disease.
Statistics show that AIDS virus spread mainly through sexual contact. Bisexuals and Heterosexuals both get this disease. Male Homo sexual intercourse facilitates the transmission of infected sperm into the blood stream. Sharing of needles among those, using narcotics and illicit drugs also enhances AIDS infection. Children of female AIDS patients are likely to be born with the virus, they can also transmit AIDS virus to their sexual partners. Also, those men who have more sexual partners have much higher risk of contracting AIDS than those with one partner.
Unfortunately AIDS is a fatal disease and so far no one is known to have survived a full blown case of AIDS. About half of those affected die within two years.
There is no cure known to this disease as yet. Scientists are working on two routes: One drug therapy and the other vaccines. The recent drug AZT (azidothymidine) is available in the market at a very high cost of 10,000 dollars for a year supply for a single patient. AIDS vaccine and some other drugs like Suramin; Ribavirin etc. are not a cure for the disease but only a treatment.
The ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) has set up task force on AIDS to look for AIDS cases in India so that the dreaded venereal disease may not spread in our country. We should be careful to watch over high risk groups viz., occupants of red light areas and homosexuals etc. Some precautionary measures should be taken without delay. Any lapse or inaction could mean disaster. The donor’s blood should be screened to make sure that it is not contaminated or infected.
The AIDS disease may spread more and more in the world but there is hope that by following the precaution recommended, AIDS spread may be curtailed. The effort to produce vaccine and drugs should continue till the disease is fully eradicated.