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The Aids Dilemma

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AIDS knows no boundaries, and no borders. Today, AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, continues to take the lives of men and woman, young and old. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that AIDS is thought to originate from chimpanzees in West Africa. The disease was transferred through blood while a chimp was being hunted. The first documented case of AIDS in Africa was in 1959, though no one knew the cause of this subject's death, his blood was saved and after testing the cause of death was determined to be the AIDS virus. It was not until the 1980s that the first case of AIDS was diagnosed in the United States. Although the CDC has determined the first AIDS case diagnosed in the United States occurred in Los Angeles, other sources attribute the virus entering America to one man. Randy Shilts, author of the critically acclaimed narrative And The Band Played On, named Gaƫtan Dugas as the patient zero, the man responsible for bringing AIDS to the US. Dugas was a Canadian flight attendant based in New York. He traveled worldwide and had homosexual intercourse with thousands of men all over the world. Dugas was linked to 40 of the first 248 cases of AIDS in the United States. He continued to have sex with men and pass the virus along even after his diagnosis. Current CDC statistics state, in the US 0.3% of the population has the AIDS virus, 75% of those are men and 53% of those men are homosexual. Since the outbreak in the U.S. of the virus in the 1980s, over one million people have been infected with the AIDS virus and 600,000 have died because of the virus.

People often confuse AIDS with HIV, but they are not one in the same. AIDS is a form of HIV or Human Immunodeficiency Virus. THe virus destroys specific blood cells, called T cells, and these T cells are used to fight diseases in your immune system. AIDS is a more advanced form of HIV that severely damages your immune system and leaves you open to countless other illnesses. Often these illnesses are uncommon and difficult to treat. In AIDS and it's Metaphors, Susan Sontag says, AIDS is know as the "Retro Virus", because even if you are infected your symptoms may not show up for years. On average it takes 11 years for HIV to progress to AIDS. Today doctors have developed medications, often referred to as a cocktail because it is a mix of many medications, to help slow the progression of the virus and damage to the immune system. There is still no cure to the AIDS virus. People are living longer while infected, but ultimately they still die.

AIDS is primarily transmitted by sexual intercourse and usually male to male. It can be prevented by the use of condoms. It would appear that a twenty year old female college student, such as myself, would have would have a slim chance of being infected with the HIV virus that would cause AIDS, but the odds are also determined by the number of sexual partner, thier education, age, racial demographics and where they live.

A person's level of education is a strong determining factor with their odds of being infected with AIDS. As a persons education increases their risk of infection is reduced. I am a college student, so my ideal partner would be someone who is at least at the same level of education as myself. Those individuals with higher education have been given more information regarding HIV/AIDS and safer sex. In every public school, children are taught the basics of sex the consequences of sex and how to protect themselves. One does not need to know everything about the disease, in order to prevent yourself from contracting the disease. If everyone knew the basics of AIDS, what the disease is and how it is transmitted, the number of cases would be less. Students who drop out of school at a young age do have less knowledge of AIDS and its transmission as those who stayed in school. Those same individuals research HIV/AIDS on their own. Having



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