AIDS(Introduction and Discovery)

AIDS ( Introduction and Discovery)


Nobody dies because of AIDS!!!!!!!!

So the question arises, what is AIDS? Why is this disease so scary? And, what causes the death of an AIDS patient?
To answer these questions you need to know a bit more about AIDS.
AIDS( acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is a disorder of a cell-mediated immune system. There is a reduction in the number of helper T cells, which further impacts the production of antibodies. This results in loss of natural defense against viruses.


AIDS was first noticed in USA homosexuals in 1981.
The virus (HIV) was isolated by
1. Prof luc Montagnier in France
2. Prof Robert Gallo in the USA.
AIDS infections were detected in India for the first time in prostitutes of Chennai in 1986.
But the question arises, Exactly what HIV or AIDS was. And how did it started in humans?
Since the start of the AIDS crisis around 70 million people are infected with HIV and around 35 million died. All doctors knew was that suddenly, healthy gay young men were developing extremely rare infections and it was killing them. After some time an immunologist at UCLA( University of California Los Angeles) noticed a pattern.

He saw a string of 5 patients ( gay men) with an unusual type of pneumonia, there was a fungus growing inside their lungs, those fungi are normally harmless but in this case, it was making it difficult for them to breathe. They also had oral infections ( yeast infections, usually harmless)
In the next 2 and half years, 26 gay young men developed the same symptoms.
Doctors had no idea of what it was and hence they couldn’t warn people about it.
The association of gay men was striking though.
And usually harmless bacteria and fungus were being harmful in this case, making it certain to be an immune disorder.
They therefore started calling it GRID( Gay-Related Immune Disorder)
Or Gay Plague.

After some time, IV drug users, women, infants, heterosexual men, and hemophiliacs( persons with a blood clotting disorder, who are taking clotting factors from other blood through transfusion)started showing the same symptoms.
This made them think that perhaps infection was transmitted through blood.
In March 1893, The CDS( Combined Deficiency Service) issued a warning that doctors needed to be careful about Blood transfusion and that the disease seemed to be spread through both gay and straight sex.
In 1986, HIV name was given to the viruses that cause AIDS.
Then scientists were busy searching about how did this disease started until they noticed that, Macaque monkeys also suffered from AIDS disease. One group of people decided to take some blood samples from suffering monkeys.
They found a virus similar to HIV and named it SIV ( Simian Immune deficiency virus).

After some more research, they concluded that the virus behind the epidemic was very similar to the chimpanzee version of SIV. And perhaps they were the ones who passed it to us.
Now, the question arises….. How?
That’s when CUT HUNTERS HYPOTHESIS comes into the picture.
In the course of butchering a chimpanzee, some chimpanzees were SIV infected. That SIV-infected blood entered a small cut on the hunter’s hand.
Humans and chimpanzee shares 98.8 % common DNA. Hence, the virus is close enough to human biology to infect the hunter, over time the hunter passed this virus to other people, it mutated and evolved into HIV we know today.
Researchers think the chimpanzee who passed this virus to us lived in southwestern Cameroon in the forest near congo.
And hence we conclude that the virus started in Africa and traveled all across the world.

AIDS ( symptoms and diagnosis)

HIV infection can be divided into 3 stages.
1. Asymptomatic carrier.
Only 1 or 2 % of newly infected AIDS patients show symptoms like chills, fewer, aches, swollen lymph, and itches. Rest all the infected individuals go through an asymptomatic phase for 9 months or longer. Although the individual exhibit no symptoms during this phase, they are highly infectious and are capable of transmitting the disease. The standard HIV test will be positive at this stage.
2. AIDS-related complex (ARC)
The most common symptoms of ARC are swollen lymph glands in the neck, armpit, or groin that persist for 3 months or more. There is severe fatigue without exercise or drug use. Recurrent fever, night sweats, persistent cough persistent diarrhea, memory loss, inability to think clearly, loss of judgment, and depression.

3. Full-blown AIDS :
In the final stage, there is severe weight loss and weakness due to persistent diarrhea and opportunistic infections. These infections are called opportunistic infections because the body can usually prevent them. Only an impaired immune system gives the opportunity to get started.
Now, you perhaps know why those harmless fungus and yeast were harmful to that young gay.
Opportunistic infections include
1. Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia.
There is not a single documented case of this type of pneumonia in persons with normal immunity.
2. Toxoplasmic encephalitis.
In AIDS patients, this infection leads to loss of brain cells and weakness.
3. Mycobacterium avium.
This is an infection of bone marrow that leads to a decrease in red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
4. Kaposi’s sarcoma :
Cancer in blood vessels causes reddish purple coin-sized spots and lesions on the skin.
Once a host is infected by HIV. HIV is detected using the ELISA test ( Enzyme links Immunosorbent assay). A positive ELISA should be confirmed using a western blot test.


The drug zidovudine and dideoxyinosine prevent HIV reproduction in cells. Researchers are hopeful that proteases ( enzymes HIV needs) inhibitor drugs will be available soon. A number of different types of vaccines are expected to arrive soon.
Some of the subtypes of vaccines are also expected that would be specific for certain strains of HIV only.
HIV has been isolated from semen cervical secretion, lymphocytes, plasma, cerebrospinal fluid, tears, saliva, urine, and breast milk.
Infections spread by
1. Sexual intercourse, vaginal and anal.
2. Infected blood, blood products, donated blood, and semen.
3. By contaminated needles.
4. From infected mother to her child.

The following behavior will help prevent AIDS.
1. Do not use alcohol or drugs in a way that prevents you from being in control of your behavior.
2. Do not use IV drugs.
3. Refrain from multiple sex partners, especially with homosexuals and IV drug users.

4. If you are uncertain about your partner, use a latex condom.
Shaking hands, hugging, social kissing, coughing, or sneezing in the same pool does not transmit AIDS. You cannot get AIDS from inanimate objects like toilets, dark knobs, telephones, office machines, or household furniture.
Together we have to fight the disease not the diseased.

   Written By: Azra Rizwan


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