History and Origin of HIV/AIDS

History and Origin of HIV/AIDS

AIDS is a relatively new disease, first appearing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1959. There is a great deal of similarity between the HIV virus and an African monkey virus, although the animal virus does not cause immunosuppression among monkeys. This apparent correlation has led to speculation among scientists that African hunters who butchered and ate monkeys (a traditional food source) might have been exposed to a mutated form of the virus that was infective to humans.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS has grown dramatically in areas of Africa as a direct result of importation of millions of migrant workers. To maximize the diamond and gold industry output in their country, Africa imported primarily able-bodied men to work in the mines. Strict rules prohibiting even married immigrants from bringing family with them has led to the ravage of HIV/AIDS due to indiscriminate sexual activity thought to be compounded by a sort of migrant mentality- of transients who are not risk averse.

AIDS arrived in the United States in 1981, when young homosexual men appeared at clinics with Kaposi's sarcoma and Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. It has been argued that the perception of AIDS as a "gay" disease contributed to a delay in testing and drug development. The disease soon spread to heterosexuals, including hemophiliacs who contracted AIDS through blood transfusions. Worldwide globalization has all but demolished virtual and physical barriers that formerly slowed the spread of communicable disease.

The HIV virus was discovered in 1983, but its high mutation rate hindered the development of an effective vaccine. Drug development efforts resulted in the AIDS "cocktail," a mixture of antiretroviral drugs and a protease inhibitor. The cocktail first became available in 1995, contributing to a significant decrease in AIDS deaths in the Western world. Even people with late-stage AIDS often responded well to the therapy. Many patients resumed their normal lives, even returning to work. With treatment, HIV infection has become a manageable disease, allowing people in wealthy western nations to live with it for many years.

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