HIV/AIDS: A Death Sentence

May 22, 2010
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HIV/AIDS isn’t beneficial to humans and should be solved with prevention and awareness.
Did you know that every 16 seconds a person dies from HIV/AIDS related illnesses? When HIV/AIDS first emerged, no one could have predicted how the epidemic will spread and how many lives it would impact. It is a massive global issue affecting 33.4 million people and an estimated of 2.5 million people die yearly from HIV/AIDS related illnesses. HIV/AIDS has a negative impact on our world and it isn’t at all beneficial to humans and should be solved with prevention, awareness, and education.
Firstly, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that disables the body’s protection by destroying the immune system. It attacks the immune system by targeting the CD4+ helper T cells, which are the cells that alarm our body that a virus or foreign bacteria has entered our body. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the outcome of HIV meaning a person has AIDS when the body’s immune system has been totally deteriorated. There are four ways to contract HIV, through unprotected sexual intercourse, mother to child, sharing hypodermic needles and blood transfusions, which is very rare now. Antiretroviral (ARV’s) drugs are given to prolong the lives of the affected, but there is no cure. HIV/AIDS affects so many people. 33.4 million people are living with HIV in the world today. 2.1 million are children infected with HIV as anyone can get HIV.
Every 12 seconds a person contracts HIV, this is because HIV doesn’t consider race, sex, age or social standing, anyone can acquire it. It is very easily spread through the 4 ways of transmission, though the most common way of spreading is through unprotected sex. The fact that it is so easily spread from person to person means that it affects so many people in the world. The disease is so dangerous because it could be spread unknowingly. They wouldn’t know they have contracted the disease, unless they are tested. This is because of the long incubation period so symptoms may not show for up to ten years. Then the disease could just continue spreading affecting more and more people. The more people affected, means more people die from HIV/AIDS related illnesses. HIV/AIDS is a horrible disease as it spreads easily unknowingly.
There is no cure for HIV/AIDS. There are only medicines to prolong the life of the infected. The problem is, these medicines are very expensive and not everyone has access to them. While so many humanitarians and organizations are trying to provide as much treatment as they could, there is still a demand. About 58% of the infected do not have access to ARV’s. First line antiretroviral drugs cost about $88 per year, which is quite cheap for combination therapy, but when the infected have grown resistance to these drugs, they will need to start taking the second line antiretroviral drugs, which are about $1105 in low-income countries. A lot of the people infected, especially in Africa, live below the poverty line. It would be very difficult for them to receive the proper treatment they need, when they can barely feed themselves everyday. The cost and availability of ARV’s will allow the millions of people that do not have access to the proper treatment to just suffer and die.
Another reason why HIV/AIDS is a horrible disease is because of the medicine’s side effects. ARV’s are a combination therapy, meaning people that take them have to take an array of pills. Missing a dosage can increase the chances that the medicine will stop working. If side effects arise, they will have to treat these side effects, adding onto the mountain of pills or adding a whole new treatment. ARV’s have side effects that induce insomnia, depression, anxiety, paranoia and a whole list of others. These side effects can greatly impact the treatment, as some of the treatments for the side effects may be very severe. An example is if they react to Tenofovir, a medicine used to prevent HIV from reproducing uninfected cells, there could be serious kidney damage that could only be treated by having a kidney transplant. If a patient reacts to the medicine, such as the medicine Abacavir, which helps control the HIV infection, they will have to switch drugs. Switching drugs may work, but there are risks. They will have to identify which drugs caused the side effect and could eliminate drugs that weren’t to blame in the first place. The new drug may worsen the side effects, perhaps forcing another switch. The treatment of HIV/AIDS is very complicated and contributes to why HIV/AIDS is an awful disease.
A positive perspective of HIV/AIDS is that it helps with the growing issue of population control, especially in Africa where poverty and a fast growing population reigns, but this actually doesn’t stand to reason. The African continent makes up about 22.4 million people that are infected with HIV. If 20 million people are loss, this would not slow the population growth. To justify this, the two World Wars could be used as examples, there were millions of lives lost during both World War 1 and World War 2, but that did not stop the growth population peaking during 1970’s. Plus thinking in this mindset, is very cruel and harsh to people. People are people, even though they are sick, you cannot just let them suffer, control birth, not end lives.
A possible solution to combat HIV/AIDS is to create a program throughout Africa to promote sexual equality and empower women to take control of their sex lives to take steps to prevent infections. This seems very doable, but there will be a dramatic change culturally in societies that are patriarchal and misogynistic. And for women to achieve the same sexual equality as of women in the west, they must have education, live in a country with a successful economy and have some financial independence, which very rare in Africa. Prevention, awareness and education are the best solutions. Prevention is key because HIV/AIDS is one of the most preventable diseases. Millions could have prevented getting infected if they were only aware of HIV, which is why it is so important. Awareness informs people of HIV, and its consequences. Education is the most important because it involves both awareness and prevention. Schools can be a primary source of information about HIV and AIDS. Students can be more aware of what is happening and allows people to have more knowledge of the issue. Once people realize that there is an issue, hopefully, the spread of the disease will lessen. Students can also learn methods to prevent. They can learn about wearing a condom or abstaining from sex, which in return, help stop the increase of infections everyday. HIV should be solved with prevention, education and awareness.

HIV/AIDS is a terrible disease changing the lives of millions. It acts as a death sentence to the infected. HIV/AIDS spreads easily, ARV’s are costly, inaccessible and have very bad side effects. Although HIV/AIDS currently has no cure, education, prevention and awareness are stemming the spread of the disease.

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