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I chose to make my article about one of the most well-known and dangerous diseases – AIDS which is caused by HIV.

I doubt that many people don`t know what these two abbreviations mean, but in this way, AIDS is Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome and HIV is Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

It is easy to find out from both of these names that this disease is caused by the virus which suppresses the human immune system.

The first time when AIDS was registered in the USA was in 1981. It was found among a group of young men with immunodeficiency. They experienced different kinds of diseases, for example pneumonia, mycosis, diarrhea, and cancers. It was not possible to treat these diseases and these men were dying. No wonder that disease was related to homosexual relationships since it was found within a certain group of population.

However, it didn`t take a long time for HIV to be found in the patients after blood transfusion.

The French scientists were able to detect HIV in 1983. It was identified by the US scientists almost at the same time.

The most interesting and special characteristic of this virus is that it invades the cells of the immune system. These cells are supposed to fight the infection. The virus also invades CNS cells, RBCs, and WBCs. It can hide in them for a long time before it will start to replicate itself.

HIV was found in the blood, sperm, vagina secretions, breast milk, and tears.

It is possible to get HIV through sexual intercourse. One intercourse with an HIV-infected person is enough to catch the disease.

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I`ve already mentioned blood transfusions. It is another way to get infected. It is a common route for drug addicts.

It is kind of scary, but the virus can be transmitted from one person to another if a needle for a tattoo is used several times or even through a skin tear if infected blood gets into it.

I should also mention that HIV can be transmitted from a mother to her child. The ratio is 1:4 that a child who was born from a woman with HIV is infected too.

There is some good news as the virus isn`t transmitted through everyday contact, touches, kisses, food and drinks, and also mosquitoes.

What is going on in our bodies if HIV enters it?

HIV is looking for a cell with a CD4 (one of the glycoproteins) molecule on its surface. It enters the cell and makes itself “comfortable”. It means that the virus changes its RNA (genetic information storage) into DNA which the cell recognizes as its own. The ferment which is needed for this transformation is a reverse transcriptase.

It is possible to reverse this process and prevent DNA production during this short period by using the following drugs: AZT, ddI, ddC, d4T, etc.

If the process hasn`t been reversed the DNA of the virus enters the nucleus of the host cell and starts “manufacturing” its parts. The virus replicates while using the host cell as “a factory”.

The new viruses are getting assembled and leaving the cell. There is another ferment protease which helps the virus to become mature and to be ready to infect the other cells. The protease inhibitors can be used in this stage to fight HIV, for example, Sakvinavir, Ritonavir, etc.

I`ve already mentioned that the virus chooses the cells with CD4. They are T-lymphocytes, monocytes, and macrophages. They serve as reservoirs for the virus. While being in these cells HIV cannot be effectively treated with antivirus medications. It is the main reason why HIV cannot be destroyed in the human body.

The labs of the infected persons show HIV in the blood, and a lack of T-lymphocytes (20-40% lower than the norm). The flu-like symptoms are very common in the infected person. When the acute period is over the infected person more likely doesn`t have any symptoms and might don`t even know that he or she is infected with HIV.

Is there any cure?

The treatment of HIV includes antivirus medications to suppress its reproduction. Each case is individual and the treatment depends on the type of opportunistic infections. For example, Kaposi sarcoma is treated with antibiotics and chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for AIDS, but the current therapy is effective in the fight against HIV replication. Hopefully, the researchers will find a way to completely clear the body of this virus.

The prophylactic is needs to be reinforced as it is the only way to fight against the spread of this dangerous infection.

I can only add that the understanding of the causes and the mechanism of action of AIDS is an effective way to fight the disease.   A healthy lifestyle should become the norm for everyone. Let`s start with our relatives and if you have a teenager in your family ask if he/she knows anything about HIV. Keep everyone informed.



  1. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/treatment/index.htm
  2. HIV/AIDS Basics:     http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/qa/definitions.htm
  3. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hiv-aids/DS00005
  4. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000594.htm



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