Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome
AIDS (known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is one of the most terrible and devastating diseases of our times, which brought to millions of deaths all around the world. It is caused by a virus called HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus can be transmitted through transfusion of blood, during a sexual intercourse with an infected person, by sharing a needle when having injection, or from mother to child.
Biologically, HIV attacks so called CD 4 + T-cells of human body’s immune system, and then progressively damages or completely destroys them. Therefore, it drastically decreases or terminates the ability of human organism to resist infections (which are called “opportunistic infections”) and even certain types of cancer. That is why the people who have AIDS may get infected by such bacteria and viruses which usually do not cause any disease for healthy people. And very often in such cases prognosis for AIDS carriers can be life-threatening.
AIDS was first reported in summer 1981 in the USA as an unknown disease, called “manly cancer”. For the first year about 1600 cases were diagnosed, which resulted in 700 deaths. In 1983 American Center for Disease Control introduced the term AIDS. In 1984 Dr. Robert Gallo in collaboration with the specialists of Institute Pasteur of France discovered HIV as a cause of AIDS. As the amount of deaths was increasing (in 1987 there were 71,000 of registered cases of AIDS and 40,000 of lethal cases), medical scientists started intensive research work, directed on creating a cure for AIDS.
Unfortunately, there is still no cure for this disease, so numerous biologists and medical researchers continue their efforts, studies and experiments. It was discovered that AIDS can not be transmitted by usual contacts, like sharing the meals or towels, using the same phone or swimming pool, doing handshake, and so on. Nowadays the problem of prevention of further spread of this terrible epidemic is extremely topical, especially in the regions of Sub Saharan Africa, Caribbean and Asia, where the amount of infected people exceeds 8% of the population, and the number of deaths runs into millions.