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HIV & AIDS Virus
AIDS – acquired immunodeficiency syndrome – was first reported in the United States in 1981 and has since become a major worldwide epidemic.
AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By killing or damaging cells of the body’s immune system, HIV progressively destroys the body’s ability to fight infections and certain cancers. People diagnosed with AIDS may get life-threatening diseases called opportunistic infections, which are caused by microbes such as viruses or bacteria that usually do not make healthy people sick. More than 790,000 cases of AIDS have been reported in the United States since 1981, and as many as 900,000 Americans may be infected with HIV. This epidemic is growing more rapidly among minority populations and is a leading killer of African-American males ages 25 to 44. According to the U.
S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), AIDS affects nearly seven times more African Americans and three times more Hispanics than whites.
Transmission of HIV
Having unprotected sex with an infected partner most commonly spreads HIV. The virus can enter the body through the lining of the vagina, vulva, penis, or mouth during sex. HIV also is spread through contact with infected blood. Before donated blood was screened for evidence of HIV infection and before heat-treating techniques to destroy HIV in blood products were introduced.
HIV was transmitted through transfusions having the contaminated blood or blood components. Today, because of blood screening and heat treatment, the risk of getting HIV from such transfusions is extremely small. HIV frequently is spread among injection drug users by the sharing of needles or syringes contaminated with very small quantities of blood from someone infected with the virus. It is rare, however, for a patient to give HIV to a health care worker or vice-versa by accidental sticks with contaminated needles or other medical instruments.
Although researchers have found HIV in the saliva of infected people, there is no evidence that the virus is spread by contact with saliva. Laboratory studies reveal that saliva has natural properties that limit the power of HIV to infect.
Research studies of people infected with HIV have found no evidence that the virus is spread to others through saliva by kissing. No one knows, however, whether so-called “deep” kissing, involving the exchange of large amounts of saliva or oral intercourse increase the risk of infection. Scientists also have found no evidence that HIV is spread through sweat, tears, urine, or feces.
Studies of families of HIV-infected people have shown clearly that HIV is not spread through casual contact such as the sharing of food utensils, towels and bedding, swimming pools, telephones, or toilet seats. Biting insects such as mosquitoes or bedbugs does not spread HIV.
HIV can infect anyone who practices risky behaviors such as
 Sharing drug needles or syringes
 Having sexual contact with an infected person without using a condom
 Having sexual contact with someone whose HIV status is unknown
Having a sexually transmitted disease such as syphilis, genital herpes, chlamydial infection, gonorrhea, or bacterial vaginosis appears to make people more susceptible to getting HIV infection during sex with infected partners.
What are the early symptoms of HIV infection?
Many people do not have any symptoms when they first become infected with HIV. Some people, .