Like the majority of the American population I have lived in a cloud of
ignorance about the HIV and AIDS crisis. I have never know anyone close to me
that has been infected with either of the two viruses. So when the option to
research something to do with sexuality arouse I felt this would definitely
further my education about a lethal killer that is roaming this earth. Since I
knew next to nothing about this topic I will start from the begging of the
disease and discuss where it’s at now.
The HIV and AIDS disease has been around for awhile although no one has
been able to pin point it’s origin.
There are many theories floating around the
medical world but the most predominant theory “is that the virus first attacked
humans in Central Africa up to 100 years ago.”(Kelly 524). It is said that the
virus stayed mainly in this closed society until many years later. Many say the
disease spread when international travel began to increase. The HIV and AIDS
viruses were believed to arrive in the United States sometime during the
nineteen seventies. It was a common disease between gay males and intravenous
Now it is well known that the viruses have been transmitted
through sexually, occasionally through blood and organ transplants.
The acronym HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, where as the
acronym AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. When someone has
contracted the HIV virus in almost all cases it produces the AIDS virus.
Apparently there has been a controversy that HIV really isn’t the cause of the
AIDS virus, but careful research has proved without a doubt that it is the cause.
Socially the production of the viruses has caused a lot of hate, prejudice,
racism and above all homophobia.
Many people only talk about the late stages of AIDS but HIV does not
always produce the AIDS virus.
If the HIV virus is caught in the early stages
it is possible to get treatment and delay the effects of the AIDS virus. When
an individual contracts HIV they can expect a fever, swollen glands, and
sometimes a rash. As the bodies system tends toward these symptoms the HIV
virus may still be undetectable. This first stage is called primary HIV disease
then moves onto chronic asymptomatic disease. With this stage comes a decline
in the immune cells and often swollen lymph nodes. As time moves on the
depletion of immune cells increases leaving the body open to opportunistic
This is where normal sickness, disease, and other things in the
environment are now able to attack the bodies system. This stage is called the
chronic symptomatic disease. A very noticeable symptom is a thrush, which “is a
yeast infection of the mouth”(Kelly 532). Also at this stage there can be
infections of the skin and also feelings of fatigue, weight loss, diarrhea, etc.
The actual period of the HIV virus really varies from person to person.
Normally with in a year or two the serve stages of HIV set in.
At this point in
the victims life it is said they have progressed into the Acquired
Immunodeficiency Syndrome(AIDS). This status is established when one or more of
diseases have accumulated in the effected victims system. Many victims often
have lesions appear on their skin or they begin to acquire a pneumocystic
pneumonia. The final stage of the virus attacks the nervous system, “damaging
the brain and the spinal cord.”(Kelly 532). This can lead to a number of
problems in the body: blindness, depression, loss of body control, loss of
This can often last for months before the victim finally passes away.
Once the HIV virus enters the body it infects the “T” cell the
protectors of the immune system. Once they have attached to the T cell the HIV
molecule sheds it’s outer coating and then releases the Viral RNA material into
the T cell. RNA and DNA are basically genetic blueprints for the body. When
the Viral RNA enters the T cell it begins transforming into the more complex
Viral DNA. This occurs because the virus brings along an enzyme with it that
causes the change.
Modern medicine uses the drug AZT to put the transformation
on hold. After the Viral RNA changes to Viral DNA it then penetrates the
nucleus of the T cell. It connects with the cell DNA and awaits the opportunity
to produce more Viral RNA. When the victim comes under stress or infection the
cells break and become Viral proteins .