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HIV/AIDS

Many scientists believe that humans contracted HIV/AIDS from chimpanzees located in West Africa. Humans most likely contracted the disease when poachers hunted the infected chimpanzees for meat.  This subsequently made the poachers come into contact with the chimpanzee’s infected blood. The disease then mutated in the poachers bodies to become the HIV/AIDS that is seen today in human populations. The first case of the Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was reported in 1983.  Since this initial victim, AIDS, caused by Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) has afflicted over 60 million people, about half of which have succumbed to the disease. The United Nations estimates that, today, over 34 million people are infected with HIV worldwide; however the real number is far higher. There are actually two types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. Both forms of HIV destroy specific forms of blood cells called CD4+T cells, which are crucial to fighting infections. Within a few weeks of infection, some people may develop flu-like symptoms; however some people have no symptoms at all. While the person may feel healthy for years, the disease is still always weakening their body.  With treatment, a person can live many years without developing AIDS. Without treatment, most persons with HIV develop AIDS within ten years of infection, which results in substantial morbidity and premature death. AIDS is the last stage of the HIV infection. In this stage, a person’s immune system is severely damaged and has problems fighting off infection.  A person who is infected with AIDS will eventually die from an “opportunistic” infection. Some of the opportunistic infections include different forms of cancer, Tuberculosis and Pneumonia. Luckily, today in the United States the death rate has been severely reduced due to antivirus drug therapies.  Unfortunately this treatment is not a cure and requires a person to commit to a lifelong therapy.