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History of HIV/AIDS

HIV is considered a new virus as no records of it exist in history or in dead bodies. Our best understanding of the origin of HIV is that it started in central Africa and started spreading, slowly at first, around 1930. The closest known virus to HIV is called SIVcpz and it is found in a certain species of chimpanzees in central Africa. This virus, SIVcpz, entered the human body by accident: these chimpanzees are hunted in a very bloody way and eaten raw or sometimes their blood is drunk by people. SIVcpz does not cause disease in humans, but it mutates (changes its structure) very rapidly. Unfortunately, it mutated to HIV in some human. This human then spread it to his/her sexual partners and they passed it on further. For many years HIV was limited to a small region of Africa, however, with the explosion in tourism, air travel, mobility of people, and many other factors that became common in the 1960s, the virus spread rapidly all over the world. Today, it is one of the worst nightmares for public health. As of May 2001 it has killed over 22 million people worldwide, 34 million are living with the infection and will die of it, and the dead have left behind 14 million orphans.


HIV+ is a term used to denote any person who is infected by HIV. Similarly, sometimes the term HIV- is used to denote any person who is NOT infected by HIV.

Is HIV/AIDS hereditary?

NO. It is acquired through sex with an infected person or if the blood of an infected person enters the body of another person through cuts, punctures or by transfusion.



HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus infects a number of different cells of the human immune system. The most susceptible cell is a type of white blood cell called the CD4 T-lymphocyte, which plays a very important part in the functioning of the immune system. HIV slowly and steadly destroys these immune cells until the body is left defenseless against all and every disease. When the count of CD4 cells goes below a certain number (200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood), the person is said to have progressed to the AIDS stage, the final stage before death.


Viruses are tiny single cell organisms that can cause disease. Viruses are very picky and infect very specific cells which we call host cells. Their life cycle consists of entering a host cell, and replicating themselves using the machinery of the host cell. The host cell is eventually destroyed and the new virus cells are released by budding or at cell death when it bursts open.

different ways of acquiring this infection

In infected people, the virus is present mainly in the blood, and in the seminal fluids of man and vaginal secretions and breast milk of women. To transmit it from one person to another requires either the blood of an infected person enter into the body of another, or through sex, or from mother to child. The highest risk from sex is from anal sex, followed by vaginal sex, and a much smaller risk from oral sex. Blood contact can be through transfusion of infected blood, reuse of needles without sterilization for injections or tattoos, or by accidental pricks by such needles if they are not properly disposed.



AIDS stands for Acquired Immunedeficiency Syndrome. The word syndrome specifies that it is a condition or stage of infection and not a specific disease. The word "acquired" specifies that this syndrome is not genetic (hereditory) but acquired by an individual as a consequence of infection with HIV. Once HIV enters the human body, it slowly and steadly destroys the CD4 immune cells until the body is left defenseless against all and every disease. When the count of CD4 cells goes below a certain number (200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood), the person is said to have progressed to the AIDS stage. It is the final stage of HIV infection before death.

Cure for HIV/AIDS so far

There are many reasons for this. Among the most important are: (i) the host cell of HIV is a very important regulator of the immune system, so we cannot afford to indiscriminately destroy it; we have to design drugs that only destroy the infected cells. (ii) once HIV infects a host cell, it prevents the cell from displaying markers indicating that it is infected, thus making it hard for the immune system to tell whether a cell is infected or not. (iii) the virus can stay in a dormant state inside a cell for years. So even if a medicine can destroy all the infected cells, the virus reappears at a later date after the person has stopped taking the medicine. (iv) it mutates very rapidly, and learns to evade the medicines.

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