General Information on Human Immunodeficiency Virus

In the early 1980″s a new disease known as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was introduced into the medical field. The disease was something new to study and had no cure at the time. Society began to speculate where this disease came from. For approximately twenty years the disease was thought of as the gay man’s disease. Not until the early nineties did society begin to see that the disease was not a gay man’s disease but women and young infants were getting the HIV virus. As more people come out that they have this disease the speculation has stopped on who can get it and now everyone knows it is not just one group in society but a disease that everyone can get.

In 1990 the Ryan White CARE Act was implemented to provide care for people with HIV. Money is given to states and metropolitan areas with large numbers of citizens with AIDS. The act also provides grants for prevention of the virus and grants to research the virus in hopes to find a cure (Anonymous, 2000b).

II. Description of Social Problem.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) leads to the disease acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The disease AIDS kills white blood cells that make up the immune system. A person with AIDS is unable to fight any sickness that enters the body. Many people with the disease will often die of the common cold or the flu. Their body is unable to fight the bacteria in their body. Signs of the disease are often unfelt or seen and can only be known through testing the blood. People can get AIDS through using dirty hyperemic needles, through sexual contact with someone with the virus, blood transfusions, or pregnant woman can spread it to their unborn child (Radcliffe, J., 1998).

In 1998 there were a reported six million people infected with the HIV virus. Approximately one person gets the virus every eleven minutes. That is eight thousand five hundred new cases a day that are reported.

These numbers are not completely accurate because so many people do not know they have the virus or don”t have means to go to hospitals or doctors to be checked for the virus. In 1998 over three million people under the age of twenty-five were reported to have the AIDS virus HIV (American Association for World Health, 1999).

Populations affected by the virus are men, women, children, white, black, brown, American, or Non-American all these labels and definitions of who a person does not keep them away from getting the HIV virus. Anyone and everyone has the ability to be infected if they come in contact with the virus. It is not one group or one country it is a worldwide virus. Even though knowledge of how the virus has contracted the cases of people infected is increasing. The American Association for World Health reported: ” if the spread of HIV is not contained, AIDS may increase infant mortality by as much as 75% and mortality in children under 5 by more than 100% by the year 2010 in regions most affected by the disease (1999).” People concerned about the virus include a wide range of organizations. There are 33.4 million cases of HIV/AIDS worldwide. Every continent on the earth is faced with the fact that people in their countries are dying from the virus. Approximately twenty-two million sub-Saharan Africans are known to have HIV/AIDS. In the United States, there are organizations to help people cope with the disease. Organizations include the American Foundation for AIDS Research, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC National AIDS Clearinghouse, Gay Men”s Health.

Crisis, National AIDS Fund, National Native American AIDS Prevention Center, and the list goes on ( HIV/AIDS Support Groups, 1998).

Groups who minimize the problem include people who care for the patients with the disease. Lawmakers who wrote the policy and people who implement the programs all minimize the problem.

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