April 27, 2000
Com 100/ Dequer
HIV and AIDS
Good afternoon everyone. Today I would like to inform you all about HIV, human immunodeficiency virus, and AIDS, aquired immune deficiency syndrome. Statistics show that about 35% of AIDS cases have been in the age group of 20-29. Now many of you may already know that AIDS has a long period between infection with the virus and the appearance of symptoms. Meaning that some of those people between the ages 20 and 29 probably contracted the virus when they were teenagers. Being that most of us in this room fall near or in that age range, my goal today is to inform you of how the virus is contracted, symptoms of this disease, and most importantly, the best way to go about taking more precaution into preventing this fatal disease.
AIDS is preceded by HIV infection. HIV can only be transmitted three different ways (refer to visual aid). (1) The first is through sexual contact. This is the most common way HIV is contracted. It can be passed when an infected person has vaginal or anal intercourse with another. (2) The second way this deadly virus is transmitted is through the exchange of blood. This method of transmission is now almost entirely limited to people who inject drugs and share needles. This type of contact between an infected person and someone else is the second most common way this virus is passed. HIV can also be contracted through blood transfusions. Now blood transfusions are far safer now than they were in the early years of the AIDS problem. (3) The third way is from mother to child. Sadly, most children with HIV contracted it from their infected mothers during pregnancy or childbirth. If the woman is infected, her child has a 50/50 chance of being born with the virus. Once, or if, this virus is contracted through these ways, the symptoms of the HIV infection may not appear for a long time after the person gets infected.
Initial symptoms of the HIV infection are usually the same as those of minor illnesses like the cold or flu. The symptoms are tiredness, swollen lymph glands, fever, loss of appetite and weight, diarrhea, and night sweats. The presence of these may indicate an HIV infection. Not being able to know right away if your illness is minor or major is just one of the complications this virus carries. A person cannot determine themselves if he or she has the infection. So if you think you might, the best thing to do is to see a healthcare professional so that they can diagnose your condition. If a person has contracted the virus, these symptoms tend to become more severe over a period of time. Since AIDS is the last stage of a long period of HIV infection, the number of AIDS cases is like the tip of a very large iceberg. (refer to visual). Acute HIV infection progresses over time to asymptomatic HIV infection and later to advanced HIV or full blown AIDS. So as you can see HIV and AIDS are a fatal disease that can be easily contracted without much precaution. (Refer to visual)
The best ways to prevent and reduce the risks that are related to sex are: (1) sexual fidelty. It is unlikely that a monogamous couple will become infected with AIDS. (2) Practice safe sex. For example, the proper use of condoms is one imperative way of preventing this virus from entering one?s body. (3) Careful selection of partners. In other words, do not have sex with just anybody. Make sure your partner has not had several sex partners, does not use intravenous drugs, and make sure its not someone who has had any sexually transmitted diseases. (4) Avoid multiple sex partners. Simple as that, the more sex partners a person has, the greater the chance of getting an HIV infection. And last but not least (5) sexual abstinence. This is the most certain way of not contracting AIDS. This is also the healthiest choice of all of the above. There are no worries of contracting any sexually transmitted diseases and people who are abstinent usually have fewer problems than those who get sexually involved too soon. Furthermore, the best way to prevent and reduce risks related to drug abuse is to not use intravenous drugs. The prevention of AIDS requires a lot of self discipline and strength of character. The requirements often seem personally restrictive but are very effective and can save your life.
In conclusion, researchers have found that AIDS is the worst end result of HIV. People with AIDS usually lead to death. Over 50% of persons diagnosed with AIDS in the US have died. Unfortunately there is still no cure for this disease and no one has completely recovered from AIDS. With this, I would just like to remind you that the exchange of this disease, be it through sexual contact, the exchange of blood, and the pregnancy and childbirth of an infected mother, can be easily contracted through careless action and no precaution. Also, the symptoms of this disease, if contracted, and its severity can easily go unnoticed since they are almost the same symptoms as the cold or flu. Therefore, prevention and taking more precaution by reducing risks related to sex and drugs is the essential key to staying healthy and, most importantly, HIV negative. Remember that making careful decisions and being cautious can save your life. Thank you for your time.