Jonathan N. Dukes

December 1, 1999

Health / 6th Period

Ms. J

Thesis: The AIDS and HIV viruses are getting worse in the United States and the rest of the world.


Although more people die of heart disease and cancer each year, AIDS has become the health problem people fear the most. Much of the fear comes from ignorance and misunderstanding. Education is the most effective tool against AIDS. It is more important than ever for young people to learn the facts about AIDS. Many teenagers don\'t know anyone who has AIDS. It is hard for them to believe they are at risk. It is a fact that the incidence of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases is on a rapid rise among teens and people in their early twenties (Silverstein).

People frequently ask the questions, How is HIV spread, what should I do if I think I may be infected with HIV, and how can people avoid getting AIDS? In this paper I will try my best to make it clearer for those who have any doubt about their knowledge of HIV and AIDS and answering the questions above.

Modes of Transmission

Today, the two diseases, HIV & AIDS, are rapidly increasing all over the United States. HIV is spread through the exchange of bodily fluids, primarily blood, semen, and blood products. HIV that is present in the sexual secretions of infected men and women gains access to the bloodstream of an uninfected person as a result of unprotected sex.

Another way that a person can be infected is by sharing needles or syringes that results in direct exposure to the blood of an infected individual. This is common among people using drugs that are injected in the veins (Folks 4).

HIV can also be transmitted from an infected mother to her baby, before or during childbirth, or through breast-feeding. Studies also show that only 25 to 35 percent of babies born to HIV-infected mothers worldwide actually become infected. This type of transmission accounts for 90 percent of all cases of AIDS in children. To me, this is the worst type of transmission because babies are defenseless and have no idea what is happening to them when they are so young (Treto).

Even when the children of HIV-infected mothers are fortunate enough to avoid the virus, there is still yet another incidence of heart problems 12 times that of the children in the general population (Folks 4).

Practices such as open mouth kissing, sharing toothbrushes, and sharing razors should be avoided. Researchers have recently identified a protein in saliva that prevents HIV from infecting white blood cells known as secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor SLPI (Folks 4-5).

There is no evidence of HIV being transmitted through insects because when the virus enters the insect, the insect does not become infected and cannot transmit HIV to the next human it feeds on or bites (Alvin Silverstein 18).

Detection and Diagnosis

In 1983 a blood test was invented to detect whether a person\'s blood contained antibodies against HIV, which was an indication that the person had been exposed to the virus. Three years ago an additional blood test was invented to detect HIV antigens. This enabled doctors to identify HIV even before the donor\'s immune system had time to make antibodies. When new strains of HIV are identified from around the world, they will need to be evaluated for detection by these tests. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta Georgia established an authoritative definition for the diagnoses of AIDS. They concluded that the CD4 T-cell count in an HIV positive person must be below 200 cells per cubic mm of blood, or there has to be the clinical appearance of an initial AIDS-defining opportunistic infection, such as PCP (a type of pneumonia), oral candidiasis, pulmonary tuberculosis, or invasive cervical carcinoma (cancer in the cervix of women) (Virginia Silverstein 23).


There were more than 580,000 reported cases of AIDS in the United States between 1981 and 1996. Of these 580,000 cases, about 46 percent have been in Caucasians, 35 percent in blacks, 18 percent in Hispanics, and 1 percent in Asians. Males make up about 84 percent of these cases and females 15 percent. Children account the remaining 1 percent of AIDS cases. Women and children constitute one of the fastest-growing groups of people with