D R . E L R O I

A PERSONAL JOURNAL OF A MAN LIVING WITH HIV

Sunday, May 18, 2008

HIV and AIDS

Many people view HIV and AIDS in the same light, and therefore have the underlying prejudice that someone who is HIV positive could die tomorrow.

Well, I must admit I used to believe that way two decades ago. Also, I never thought that I would have become a victim of this pandemic a couple of years ago. Believe it or not, the victims nowadays are younger like college students and young professionals. Unlike in the early years, the victims usually were OFWs but now it is being transmitted locally like in my case. I have never gone out of the country and yet I got infected. I was about to migrate that's why I got detected. But where did HIV or AIDS originated?

Research shows that HI virus originated in Africa. A particular kind of chimpanzee is known to carry a virus quite similar in structure to HIV. This chimpanzee virus (SIV) is a great deal older than the HI virus. In certain areas of Africa, the monkey and chimpanzee are considered a luxury food. Possibly the first human was infected by eating some uncooked organs, or through an accidental cut while preparing a carcass. The disease may have begun in this simple, quiet manner, spreading to others from this point through sexual intercourse and later through shared needle use.

Many African government representatives are sensitive about this view. Understandably so, as it is often phrased in a way that seems to blame Africa for the appearance of the virus. While scientific events are not themselves racist, observations and reporting of them may be so. It is important to remember that no one person, nation or population is responsible for the development of HIV and AIDS. We must all share the responsibility for stopping the spread of the virus.

Though currently, HIV is considered to be the worst kind of sexually transmitted disease or STD; let us also considered that a person can be infected through shared needle use, blood transfusion, or direct blood contact via open wounds or cuts. Many people still don't understand the important difference between HIV and AIDS. Let's start with HIV.

HIV stands for Human Immune-Deficiency Virus. After a person has been infected, the virus starts breaking down their immune system. After sometime, the person's immune system is so weak that they become susceptible to a variety of illnesses. So, a person who is HIV positive has the virus in their body, but does not yet have AIDS. As time passes, their immune system will deteriorate as the HIV multiplies and destroys the CD4 cells that compose our immune system, and the person develops AIDS.

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. Acquired implies that you had to get the virus causing this syndrome from someone else. To "acquire" anything, you must "do something" to be exposed to it. The virus is not transmitted through the air. You can only get it through unprotected sex or direct blood contact with a person who is HIV positive.

Immune deficiency means, after some years of being infected with the HI virus, your immune system will have been destroyed to the point where you have no defense system left in your body; a total lack of immunity or an immune deficiency.

Syndrome means, if your body no longer has a defense system, in other words you have an immune deficiency; you become an easy target for all kinds of diseases like skin and mouth infections to TB or cancer. It is called a syndrome because the person with AIDS does not become ill from only one disease, but from all kinds of diseases caused by a weak immune system. It is very important to remember that AIDS is the fourth stage in a very long process of deterioration, and it is caused by a virus called HIV. I'll talk about more of the stages and how it gradually attacks our immune system.

Note: Information was excerpt from "Channels of Hope" Manual.

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