AIDS – One of Man’s Worst Enemies


Red Ribbon – Graffiti in Brussels

HIV/AIDS has been affecting people for many years. An estimated 39 million people have died from it since the very first cases in 1981 and in the United States alone 1.2 million people are living with the infection. But what is AIDS and how is it combatted?

Let’s briefly talk about the history of AIDS. Reports of its appearance go as far back as the 1970s but it was only in the early 1980s that it started to affect people in great numbers. Many reports of it simply were dismissed as types of cancer or rare lung diseases, nothing more. But as more people started getting the same rare lung diseases and the same cancer it was obvious that there was something wrong. What made it even more peculiar was the fact that the majority of people being affected with these diseases were gay men, which led many religious people to think that it was God’s work.

In September of 1982 it was finally given a name, AIDS, standing for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. The newly named AIDS was spreading fast within the gay community causing many bathhouses and private sex clubs to close in San Francisco. This of course caused uproar, but it was a necessary step to take in order to decrease the rate it was spreading at.

On May 1986 the International Committee on the Taxonomy of Viruses officially named the disease that caused AIDS, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).

Many years passed and the spread of HIV/AIDS only appeared to be getting worse affecting people of all sexual orientations, race and social standing. There still isn’t a solid cure for HIV/AIDS. Instead the medications we have can control the disease allowing people to have a prolonged life, longer than was thought possible. But at the moment however, there is not way to get rid of HIV.

Now let’s talk a bit about how HIV/AIDS is caused. It first starts with just HIV. The virus usually enters the body from being sexually transmitted, but it can also be transmitted through using a hypodermic needle previously used by someone with the disease, or in very sad cases it can be passed on from mother to child, during pregnancy or from breast-feeding. It then starts attacking your body’s immune system. This understandably damages your defense system making it very hard for it to get rid of the virus. The infection (brought on by the virus) and the virus its self, together create HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus). The HIV then targets a special group of white blood cells known as CD4+ cells; once these are gone your body can no longer defend itself. This is when the last stage of HIV takes place, creating AIDS. Because of your lack of CD4+ cells one is much moreprone to certain cancers than a normal healthy human would be. However, this entire process doesn’t happen as quickly as it sounds. It takes a very long time for the HIV to develop into AIDS; sometimes it can take from five to ten years. If HIV does happen to be caught before forming into AIDS, there are many methods using medicines that can be used to stop the damage being inflicted upon the immune system.

On December 1st it is International Aids day to honor all the people whose lives were cut short or affected by AIDS. Many people have died from this terrible disease including Freddie Mercury the lead singer of my favourite band, .

Although there is no solid cure yet I know that with all the continued effort of leading scientists and the constant support of many people globally, it shouldn’t be long until AIDS will be a thing of the past.