HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus, is an autoimmune virus that, is left untreated, can lead to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. The human body can never fully rid itself of HIV after it is contracted, which is in contrast to most other viruses. The main target of the virus are the bodies CD4 cells, or T Cells, that help the immune system fight off infection. This disease leaves the body considerably more vulnerable to other infections or infection-related cancers. Given time and poor or no treatment the disease can kill off enough T cells to render the body completely incapable of fighting off even a common cold. There is no known cure at the moment for HIV. However, it can be treated with proper medical care, and even controlled. Antiretroviral therapy has been used to combat the disease and has worked quite well. With this treatment, people who have been infected with HIV can life for nearly as long as someone without HIV. The HIV infection rates have been falling since the 90s and as of 2016, sat a about 8 cases per 100,000 people among all races, ages and sexes.
The symptoms of HIV can be rather mild but are extensive, the list is as follows; Pain is the abdomen, pain swallowing, a dry, persistent cough, fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, general discomfort, night sweats, or excessive sweating, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, ulcers in the mouth, a white tongue, sores or swelling around the groin, difficulty swallowing, headache, pneumonia, severe unintentional weight loss and, swollen lymph nodes. With all these symptoms it can be difficult to pinpoint any one disease that can cause these symptoms. It is (depending on the symptoms) commonly passed off as a number of less serious diseases like gonorrhea, chlamydia, strep throat, hepatitis B and C, and mono. But by far the most dangerous effect of HIV is its impact on the immune systems. It is highly effective at killing T cells, which weakens the immune system. If it progresses to AIDs the immune system can be rendered almost completely incapable of fighting off simple diseases, like the common cold or the flu. Because the virus itself is not directly fatal, it is hard to know the exact number of deaths from HIV related illness. However, it is estimated that 35 million people have died from AIDS and AIDS related diseases.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic started in the 1980s and early 1990s were it swept quickly across the US and the world. The disease originated from chimpanzees with SIV, or Simian Immunodeficiency Virus. One strain of SIV, SIVcpz, is nearly identical to HIV. These Chimpanzees are also known to kill and eat two other species of monkeys, Red-capped mangabeys and greater spot-nosed monkeys. Both of these species also carry a strain of SIV. It is thought that SIVcpz and another strain of SIV is what makes up the modern HIV virus. The disease most likely made the jump to humans when african hunters ate the infected monkeys. This is supported by the first global pandemic of HIV that occured in Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. From there it spread through infrastructure routes and came with the migrants who moved into Europe and Asia. It came to the Caribbean in the 1960s from workers who had assisted in building up infrastructure in Africa for the colonial powers of the time. From there it eventually arrived on the east coast in the early 1970s and moved to the west coast by the end of the decade. International travel from the US allowed the disease to reach most areas of the world by the 1980s. It came to public attention in 1981 when the CDC published a report on five previously healthy homosexual men who had come down with Pneumocystis Pneumonia, which is typically caused by a harmless fungus. It was noted, however, that the disease rarely occurs in people with normally functioning immune systems. Until the 1990s the disease was commonly thought to affect mainly gay men, however, in the early 90s several high profile figures stepped forward revealing they had HIV/AIDS. Among those are NBA star Magic Johnson, singer Freddie Mercury, and actor Rock Hudson. They helped tear down the stereotypes surrounding the disease and raised funds for AIDS research. Despite treatments to the disease emerging in the in the mid-90s, by 1999 it was the fourth-leading cause of death in the world and the leading cause of death in Africa.In Sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS is the leading cause of death and accounts for nearly 70% of modern AIDS cases. In 2015 however, it still killed 1.1 million people around the world.
Today, cases of HIV are treated with one of five different treatments. The first is Reverse Transcriptase (RT) Inhibitors, which interfere with the life cycle of the HIV virus to stop it from reproducing. Protease Inhibitors, the second kind, interfere with a protein the the virus uses to reproduce. Fusion Inhibitors, prevent the virus from reaching body cells that don’t have the virus. Integrase Inhibitors, block certain enzymes need for the virus to reproduce. And lastly Multidrug combinations use two or more of the previously stated drugs to fight off the infection. None of these treatments, however, can cure HIV or stop it from being transferred as a result of unprotected sex or sharing needles. Currently, research is underway for a vaccine to the virus, but has progressed slowly.
The conclusion of this report is that the HIV/AIDS virus, despite only being known to have affected humans for around 100 years, has proven to be extremely lethal to those left untreated. Its ability to destroy the body’s defences and usher in another, often less serious disease has taken millions of lifes, chiefly in areas where access to medical treatment is difficult. In places without the ability to get a hold of medicines capable of fighting HIV itself or the pneumonia or tuberculosis it is often followed by, it is the equivalent of a death sentence. Thus, in my belief, HIV/AIDS is one of the most deadly and threatening diseases currently on the planted due to its highly lethal history and its current uncured status. This is what makes HIV one of most dangerous viruses in the world.