"AIDS in Africa and Sub Saharan Areas" is a good example of a paper on the virus. Since its mysterious origin, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has persisted as one of the deadliest diseases without any satisfactory cure. As the name suggests, it is not a disease itself but a spectrum of syndromes that are associated with it. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the sole cause for the development of AIDS. This virus once inside the human body targets the white blood cells, the backbone of the human immune system. The Virus penetrates replicates and then ultimately destroys the white blood cells and thus depriving the body of the major defense system against all other pathogens.
Ironically, HIV apart from lowering immunity does not play any direct role in the ultimate destructive state of AIDS patients. It is the other opportunistic infections that attack the victim’ s body due to its depressed immune state which is responsible for the high associated mortality rates. The pathogens that can normally be scavenged off by a healthy immune system can survive in an AIDS patient.
Certain diseases most commonly associated with AIDS include TB, Cryptococcus infection, and candidiasis. AIDS also puts the victim at a higher risk of developing certain malignancies such as Kaposi sarcoma. This is again related to certain viral infections associated with the development of those malignancies. For example, the increased incidence of Human papillomavirus (HPV) in female patients suffering from AIDS puts them at higher risk of developing cervical cancer. Therefore, AIDS is a state in which the victim is defenceless against many different pathogens and ultimately death occurs due to those opportunistic infections. (Buonaguro et al). With the high associated mortality rate and no proper cure yet being discovered, AIDS can be considered as the most devastating disease of the present world.
As there is no cure, prevention is the only option. Due to its ability to spread by the exchange of body fluids such as in sexual contacts, prevention is possible. But in poor countries with no proper education and AIDS awareness such as Sub-Saharan African countries, the incidence of AIDS is increasing at an alarming rate. However, our hands are not tired and the world is working with the Africans to pull the nation out of the tight clutches of deadly HIV/AIDS. (Documentary on AIDS, anonymous). History: The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome was identified as a new life-threatening disease in 1981.
In the United States of America, it was initially identified in homosexual men. The characteristic feature of the initial syndrome was the presence of a group of extremely rare diseases in infected individuals. (Cohen 2001). The most frequently observed diseases were Kaposi’ s sarcoma, Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, and Mycobacterium avium tuberculosis. Soon it was discovered that AIDS is not only common amongst homosexuals but it is equally prevalent in individuals belonging to groups including injection drug users, haemophiliacs, recipients of unscreened blood transfusions, newborn infants born to infected mothers, and few travelers from central Africa.
Initially, drugs were considered a potential cause of AIDS because homosexuals who were presumed to be at high risk of AIDS used drugs to enhance sexual performance while, on the other hand, injection drug users were at a potentially high risk as well. (Essex 2002). Origin: In Africa and Sub Saharan areas, AIDS is a notorious killer and is brutally cutting life expectancy. Due to the devastating effects of AIDS, the life expectancy is approximately twenty years less than it would have been if the epidemic had not surfaced.
Unfortunately, the harrowing catalog of lives lost is not the only devastating impact of HIV/AIDS in African and Sub Saharan areas and issues such as deterioration of child survival rates, reduced life expectancy, overburdened healthcare system, and poverty of the nation. Primarily, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus is transmitted through sexual intercourse but it also infects the fetus by crossing the placental barrier in the womb of an infected mother. The survival of the retrovirus is depended on its replication inside CD4 cells of the body’ s defensive system. (Pepin 2011). The Royal Society of London in 2001, sought out to discover the initial cause of the origin of the most deadly and widespread AIDS virus in Africa and Sub Saharan areas.
The delegates debated over the possibility of HIV-1 being evolved from accidental polio vaccine contaminations and the subsequent transmission of the virus to African areas. The underlying reason for the Oral Polio Vaccine being the foci of attention at the conference was the fact that the partial origin of the vaccine involved growing the live viruses in monkey kidney cells.
The correlation was particularly interesting because it has been historically proven that monkey kidney cells are contaminated with cancer viruses such as SV40. However, at the end of the conference, it was concluded that the polio vaccine is not the likely source of the origin of AIDS in Africa because it was not proven that Chimpanzees had been used in the production of the vaccine. In the same year, the pre-eminent explanation for the origin of HIV was offered by Gerald Myers- US government’ s chief DNA analyst and his colleagues.
The report published by Myers stated that the origin of HIV cannot be blamed on single isolated cross-species transmissions. The statement is strongly supported by the fact that genetic sequencing studies have revealed that during the mid-1970s the “ punctured origin of AIDS” led to the origin of ten different genetic subtypes of HIV and these subtypes are the source of origin often distinguishable epidemics of AIDS in Africa and Sub Saharan areas. (Poku 2005). Impact: In Africa, the widespread HIV infection is quite likely to yield numerous serious socioeconomic effects as a result of exceptional and unusual demographic changes in certain African and Sub Saharan areas.
The spread of the disease is predominantly heterosexual as well as from infected mothers to their children in poor subsistence-based societies. The determination of the demographic impact of AIDS is hindered by the accuracy and limited quantity of available data. (Barnett 1992). In the Sub Saharan areas, there are approximately 23 million HIV infected adults and it is dishearting to observe that out of these13.1 million or 57% are women. In Africa and Sub Saharan areas, women and girls are three times more likely to be infected with AIDS than males belonging to the same age group.
It is quite unfortunate that women have to bear the sufferings of the deadly disease and also abide by the rules laid down by African tradition such as the ritual cleansing sexual cleaning which is very humiliating for the suffering women. (AIDS in Africa- Sexual Cleansing, anonymous). The impact of the widespread prevalence of AIDS in African women has had a devastating effect on children and they have not been spared from the deadly disease as well. The children are highly vulnerable to AIDS and usually succumb to the disease at an early age if appropriate treatments are not provided.
The ramifications of AIDS have had multiple and devastatingly negative impacts on every aspect of developmental programs in Africa and Sub Saharan areas. As mentioned earlier, more than 57% of the infected individuals in Africa are women as a result of which the mortality rate amongst women is high. The high mortality rate of women has left more than 95% of the children orphaned in African and Sub Saharan areas.
In Africa, the AIDS pandemic has pushed the already poor nation into deeper layers of poverty thus, has transformed the nation into an area where even the necessities of life are scarce. Therefore, the agencies working in Africa to empower Africans with valuable knowledge on the disease and provide treatment to infected individuals and house orphan children are not focusing on dealing with the psychological impact of AIDS on the African population due to the lack of resources. Unfortunately, the ramifications of AIDS are not restricted to the harrowing catalog of the millions of lives lost but its impact has impregnated deeper into the layers of African and Sub Saharan society.
The fabric of social and community life has been devastatingly shattered by a rise in the number of cases being reported each year. The AIDS pandemic continues to threaten the stability of Africa by derailing the continent’ s prospects of development and governance. The ramifications of AIDS have fostered multiple impacts including a sharp deterioration in child survival rates, reduced life expectancy, and fragmenting socio-cultural coping networks across the continent. The ever-increasing number of cases have crumbled the already overburdened health care system of the continent.
Apart from the above-mentioned impacts, the major impact of AIDS is the sad truth that it is affecting prime-aged adults which is the sole reason why African society continues to cripple and succumb to the deadly clutches of HIV/AIDS. (Poku 2005). No matter how grave the situation might appear, we believe that our hands are not tied and we together with the world will help loosen the grip of AIDS on Africa and Sub Saharan areas.
Essex, Myron. Aids in Africa. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2002. Print.
Poku, Nana. Aids in Africa: How the Poor Are Dying. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2005. Print.
Th2 Polarization in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells from Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)-Infected Subjects, as Activated by HIV Virus-Like Particles
By L. Buonaguro , M. L. Tornesello, R. C. Gallo, Franco M. Marincola, G. K. Lewis and F. M. Buonaguro. (http://jvi.asm.org/content/83/1/304.short).
Pepin, Jacques. The Origins of Aids. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.
Cohen, Barney, and James Trussell. Preventing and Mitigating Aids in Sub-Saharan Africa: Research and Data Priorities for the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press, 1996. Internet resource.
AIDS in Africa- Sexual Cleansing. The New York Times. (http://www.nytimes.com/packages/khtml/2005/05/10/international/20050509_MALAWI_FEATURE.html).
Documentary on AIDS. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wilDTYyjcA).
Barnett, Tony, and Piers M. Blaikie. Aids in Africa: Its Present and Future Impact. New York: Guilford Press, 1992. Print.
The State of Asia-Pacific's Children, 2008: Child Survival. Nairobi, Kenya: UNICEF, 2008. Internet resource.