AIDS, Acquired Immunodificiency Syndrome, is a human viral disease .
which destroys the immune system, preventing the body from protecting itself .
against infection and disease. One infected with AIDS becomes vulnerable to .
infections harmless in healthy people, but fatal to those with weakened immune .
systems. A cure for AIDS has yet to be found, although drugs that may expand .
one's life span and improve one's infection are available.
AIDS is caused by HIV, human immunodificiency virus, however, one .
infected with HIV is not always infected with AIDS. Individuals who have HIV .
sometimes do not develop a clinical illness of AIDS for ten years or more. The .
term AIDS is not often used by physicians until the patient has reached the final .
In 1981 in California and New York, AIDS was found in homosexual men .
and drug users. AIDS grew among heterosexual men, women and children in .
Sub-Saharan Africa not long after its identification in the United States. .
Approximately thirty-five million adults and two million children were infected .
with HIV or AIDS by the year 2000. From 1981 to 2000, an estimated twenty-.
two million people died by the infection of AIDS; more than four million of .
those were children fourteen years of age and younger.
AIDS is known as the final stage of HIV. Two types of this virus have .
been found. HIV-1 is the primary cause and HIV-2 is found mostly in West .
Africa. HIV carries a protein structure that binds with a specific structure found .
on the outer surface of cells. White blood cells of the immune system are .
vulnerable to HIV. When HIV attacks a CD4 cell, a certain T cell, it .
commandeers the genetic tools within the cell to produce new HIV virus. The .
new HIV virus destroys the CD4 cell .
before leaving the cell completely.
The CD4 cells help other types of immune cells respond to invading .
organisms. Without CD4 cells, one's health would be endangered. An average .