Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS is a syndrome that, as the name suggests, weakens the body’s immune system. The infection is caused by a virus known as Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV and is transmitted through unprotected sex, use of needles already exposed to the virus, transfusion of unscreened blood and through gestation from an infected mother to her child.
Short and Long Essay on AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
Essay 1 (300 words)
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or AIDS is a pervasive disease that is caused by HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus attacks the immune system of the human body. It has no known cure although there are medicines to slow down or completely inhibit the virus spread. Since one of the main methods of transfer of the virus is through unprotected sex, AIDS also carries with it a stigma that ensures that society didn’t discuss it openly for a long time.
Unfortunately, this taboo meant that not enough information was being shared about how the disease spread since most people were wary of talking about it. Combine the lack of a cure with this lack of information in public forums and you get a pandemic that has resulted in over 28.9 million deaths.
Importance of Awareness
There is only one way to fight the spread of AIDS and that is through creating awareness. Ignorance is the causes and methods of transfer of HIV and it only makes a bad situation fully worse. It is imperative, therefore, that people be made aware of what AIDS is, how it spreads and what can be done to prevent infection.
Governments and non-profit organizations have instituted various programs not only to do health check-ups but also to dispel the prejudice that attaches itself to this disease and those who suffer from it. Awareness programs have spread information about HIV and how to prevent it for years now and their efforts have borne fruit. The results speak for themselves. The percentage of people with HIV has reduced considerably.
So that people do not become complacent and forget that AIDS is still very much a player in the deadly diseases field various awareness initiatives have been undertaken, the most prominent of which is World AIDS Day – a day when people show their solidarity with those who are afflicted with this disease and remember those who were struck down by it. Other initiatives target vulnerable people and communities so that they are fully informed and able to prevent the disease from spreading.
While new therapies can help in controlling HIV from spreading all over the body, awareness is the key to actually prevent AIDS from spreading across populations. It also helps to remind one that while the pandemic is under control now it is by no means gone and carelessness or apathy will definitely ensure that it comes roaring back.
Essay 2 (400 words)
AIDS has ended up taking well over 28.9 million lives in the years since the disease was first discovered. Thanks to various myths and misconceptions about the syndrome, the virus spread like wildfire and infected millions of people before it could be contained. The fact that it attacks white blood cells thereby weakening immunity is what makes it so deadly since it undermines the human body’s defense and leaves people who are HIV positive at massive risk.
Thanks to concerted efforts by governments across the world, advancements in medicine and awareness campaigns, the number of HIV positive people have reduced. However, no cure for the disease has been found yet. There are treatments available but they can only inhibit the virus; they can’t eliminate it from the body entirely. In these circumstances, it becomes imperative that we focus on prevention to get to the root of the problem.
In order to prevent AIDS from spreading, we need to first know how it spreads. There are three main ways in which HIV can move around from one person to another – unprotected sexual intercourse with an HIV positive partner, transfer of HIV from mother to child, either during pregnancy or during breastfeeding, transfusion of blood and needle sharing amongst drug users. Therefore, any preventative measures need to take these factors into account. Some things that one can do to protect themselves are:
Preventive Measures for AIDS
- Know your partner’s status – Both you and your partner should get regularly tested for HIV. Many health centers in different countries offer testing kits. If you are hesitant to visit a doctor, you can get one of these kits and determine your partner’s and your health status.
- Practice safe sex – Since one of the major reasons for the massive spread of the virus is unprotected sex, it is absolutely imperative that you practice safe sex. Condoms are a must. In addition, it is best to restrict the number of partners you have sex with. The more people you have sex the greater chance of you contracting HIV or other STDs
- Test regularly – Ensure that you and your partner go for periodic and regular check-ups, not only for AIDS but also for other STDs. Having an STD greatly enhances your risk of contracting AIDS
- Don’t abuse drugs – Don’t do drugs. However, if you are, ensure that the needles you use are sterilized and never share them with someone else.
- Pre-exposure prophylaxis – Talk to a doctor or health care provider about post-exposure prophylaxis. This reduces the chance of HIV infection in its early stages. It must be taken within three days of exposure to HIV.
Since there is no cure for AIDS at the moment, prevention is definitely better than cure in the case of this disease. Some simple preventative measures can ensure that the spread of the virus is limited if not completely halted.
Essay 3 (500 words)
The fact that India has the world’s second-largest population is part of the reason that India has the world’s third-largest HIV epidemic. In terms of percentage, this statistic is around 0.3 percent, which might not seem too large. However, when this statistic is converted to actual numbers it becomes 2.1 million people who are HIV positive. This number is as per data collected by UNAIDS for the year 2016. AIDS-related causes killed 62,000 people in the same year.
The most at-risk sections of the population are sex workers, men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and transgender people. These are some of the most vulnerable groups in society since most of them are subject to discrimination and stigma. That discrimination makes it difficult, if not outright impossible, for them to access healthcare. Add to this the fact that activities associated with sex work such as running a brothel are illegal, gay and bisexual men face social stigma if they come out, drug addicts are generally reviled and transgender people are looked down upon and you have the perfect combination of circumstances that breed an epidemic.
Prevention and Treatment Efforts
Fortunately, there has been a concerted drive by the UN, the Indian government and various non-profits organizations to reduce the risk that these sections of the populace face. The number of AIDS testing and counselling sites has gone from only 67 in 1997 to 20,000 in 2016. In addition, HIV awareness campaigns have been ramped up and testing and treatment have been made free. Thanks to these and other measures, the number of people living with HIV has actually gone down from 5.1 million in 2003 to 2.1 million in 2016.
While the measures put in place have helped in controlling the epidemic, India cannot rest on its laurels. States with larger populations such as Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan have recently reported infection in new pockets. India needs to expand its policies to reduce harm and to decriminalize homosexuality and drug use so that these sections of society can have access to care and treatment without fear of repercussions.
We must take care of our health and our health status should be checked out periodically to remain away from this deadly disease. We should also motivate and suggest others to do the same. This disease cannot be eradicated from the society; so, we must focus on its prevention.
Essay 4 (600 words)
The AIDS pandemic that, at one time, threatened to spread like wildfire throughout the world’s populations has been checked to some extent. Thanks to determined campaigns worldwide, more people are becoming aware of AIDS – not only how deadly it is but also what causes it and how to treat it.
Causes of AIDS/HIV
AIDS is caused by HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a retrovirus, which means that it replicates by inserting a DNA copy of its genome into host cells. In this case, the host cells are white blood cells known as T-helper cells or CD4 cells, which are part of the immune system. HIV destroys these cells and makes copies of itself, thereby, weakening the human immune system. In practical terms, it lowers our ability to fight off diseases over time. This doesn’t mean that every person who is HIV positive has AIDS. However, if treatment is not made available in time, someone who is HIV positive can develop AIDS.
Transmission of AIDS/HIV
- Blood – HIV can be passed on through blood transfusion, although this is fairly uncommon these days. Most developed countries have strict screening processes in place to ensure that the blood being transfused is not infected. However, there is another way for blood to pass from one person to another and that is through sharing needles as many drug users often do. If these needles are shared by someone who is HIV positive, the virus will be transferred to the person they’re sharing with.
- Perinatal – If an expectant mother or new mother is HIV positive, she can pass on the virus to her child. This can happen during the pregnancy, during childbirth or, later, during breastfeeding.
- Sexual transmission – HIV can be transferred through the sharing of bodily fluids during sex. These fluids include genital, rectal and oral fluids. This means that without the protection of a condom, the virus can be transmitted through oral, anal or vaginal sex. It can also happen if sex toys are shared with someone who is HIV positive.
Symptoms of AIDS/HIV
- Early symptoms – Not everyone shows signs of being HIV positive at this stage. Nevertheless, approximately 80 percent of people who are HIV positive do show symptoms, not unlike those of the flu. These symptoms generally include chills, fever, muscle aches, joint pain, night sweats, sore throat, red rash, enlarged glands, weakness, fatigue, thrush and weight loss. However, these symptoms also show up when the body is fighting off other viral infections. Therefore, people who have recently been at risk of contracting HIV should get tested immediately.
- Asymptomatic HIV – After the symptoms of the early stage run their course, HIV positive people may not see other symptoms for months or even years. This doesn’t mean that the virus is dormant. This is the time when the virus is busy attacking the CD4 cells and weakening the immune system. Without proper medication, this process goes on even though the person will not show any symptoms.
- Late-stage symptoms – At this stage, the virus has already significantly weakened the immune system, leaving the person vulnerable to several infections ranging from mild to serious. This is the stage that is referred to as AIDS. Symptoms at this stage may include chronic diarrhoea, blurred vision, fever that lasts for weeks, dry cough, constant fatigue, night sweats, glands that are swollen for weeks, dyspnea or shortness of breath, white spots on mouth and tongue and weight loss.
Treatment of AIDS or HIV
There is no cure for AIDS or HIV at the moment. Since HIV is a retrovirus that replicates by replacing the host cell’s DNA with copies of its own DNA, the best way to contain its spread is ART or antiretroviral therapy. This is a drug therapy that prevents the virus from replicating, thereby slowing or stopping its progress. It is best to start the treatment in the early stages of infection so that the immune system isn’t significantly affected.
Being diagnosed as HIV positive isn’t an easy thing to handle. However, with the treatments now available to rein in the spread of the disease, patients suffering from HIV can still lead long, healthy and productive lives.