Hiv Infections

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Control of HIV Infections Globally

Control of HIV Infections Globally


HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that can cause AIDS i.e. acquired immune deficiency syndrome if it is not treated. Basically HIV is considered a blood borne virus or BBV that is found in the vaginal fluids, breast milk and blood semen of an individual who is being infected (Parran, 1997, pp.113). The role of human behaviour in the transmission of infectious diseases has never been clearer than since the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic two decades ago. Initially thinking that AIDS affected male homosexual communities almost exclusively,1 epidemiologists zeroed in on the role of specific high-risk behaviours, such as frequent changes of sexual partners and unprotected anal intercourse. Initially, it was even assumed that HIV infections would remain contained within the gay community. The epidemic, however, soon came to affect people of all ages and sexual orientations. Today, HIV infections worldwide result primarily from heterosexual contact, injection drug use (IDU), and mother-to-infant (vertical) transmission although this varies substantially by region and nation. For example, South Africa estimates that 79% of its AIDS cases are due to heterosexual transmission, 7% due to homosexual contact, 13% due to vertical transmission, and 1% due to transfusions, whereas Gambia reports 93% due to heterosexual contact and nearly all the rest due to vertical transmission. Data from the Dominican Republic show 6%, 5%, 4%, and 4% of AIDS cases caused by heterosexual and homosexual contact, IDU, transfusions, and vertical transmission, respectively, whereas these figures were 18%, 48%, 32%, 1%, and 1% for the United States ((Kalipeni, 2004, pp.117). The American pattern is similar to that in most Western countries. In Eastern Europe, cases are more likely to be due to IDU, whereas Romania indicates that one third of its AIDS cases are caused by the transfusion of contaminated blood. Myanmar (Burma) indicates that nearly two thirds of its AIDS cases are due to heterosexual contact and nearly all of the rest due to IDU, whereas neighboring Thailand reports 89% due to heterosexual contact and nearly all of the rest equally divided between IDU and vertical transmission. Regardless of the cause, unlike many other infectious diseases, AIDS is almost entirely preventable.


Although some progress in preventing the disease has recently been realized in industrialized countries, the global death toll from AIDS is currently about 2.6 million per year. In sub-Saharan African nations alone, there were an astounding 2.2 million deaths from AIDS in 1998 (85% of the world's total), a rate that is accelerating. Already, Africa has lost more than 14 million people to AIDS. The ensuing fallout has left an even more vexing problem: Over 10 million children under the age of 14 have been made orphans (contrasted to 13 million orphans throughout Europe after the total devastation of World War II (Patton, 2010, pp.251). This figure could increase to an incredible 40 million by 2010. The proliferation of orphans portends problems for decades to come: These children will likely be illiterate and will ...
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