The Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV) is the causative agent of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). It has its origin as far back as the 20th century and has been one of the deadliest diseases in human history, it has destroyed so many lives over the years and also rendered quite a number of children orphans as well as making so many live in isolation and loneliness. AIDs is a deadly disease without an absolute cure as of this moment of writing.
The emergence of the infection started with the first strain, which is the HIV-1 and then the second strain came, which is the HIV-2. The first strain, however, is more contagious than the second strain.
HIV was thought initially to be the SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) because of the similarities that exist between both of them (SIV and HIV). The SIV was a virus that affected chimpanzees in Africa before moving on to some Asian countries many decades ago.
Although HIV-2 is much more similar to SIV than the HIV-1 is, scientists back then still concluded that HIV originated from Africa due to the evidence of SIV in African chimpanzees. This assertion is yet to be confirmed accurate and infallible, but records have it that the first strains of HIV-1, subgroup M were first recorded in Kinshasha, around the Congo sometimes around the 1920s.
A Little History of AIDS Transmission
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can be transmitted from person to person, via sexual intercourse and direct contact with blood.
The first case of HIV was believed to have been a zoonotic infection, from an animal (chimpanzee) to man. This was possible then due to the high rate of bush-meat consumption in the 20th century in Africa. The dwellers would catch the animal, roast it, and eat on the spot without applying enough heat capable of reducing or eliminating the virus’ effectiveness. The actual origin is believed to be in the region of Western Equatorial Africa where massive colonies of chimpanzees were found at that time. These colonies were closely similar to the chimpanzees with the SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) found down in the Congo.
Worthy of note is the fact that the very first verified strain of HIV in human was found in the 1960s when the virus was detected in the blood of a human. This happened to be the moment when prostitution and drug abuse were massively on the rise, thereby establishing the fact that HIV was indeed a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD). At this time in history, people abandoned their families and loved ones, and so many lived in loneliness and isolation, especially those with the viral infection because people looked at them as an abomination in the land.
HIV has since spread across Africa and beyond to other countries via sailors and immigrants. Scientists have been working tirelessly to find a cure which has since proved abortive because the virus can mask itself in the host and conform itself with the host’s DNA.
The reason HIV is so deadly is that the virus attacks the immune system of the body, especially the CD-4 cells and macrophages, which are the major antibodies for protection. This, in turn, lowers the immunity of the individual and makes him/her susceptible to other infections. The body naturally loses the ability to fight infection it normally would because of the presence of the virus in the body system.
In 1983, there was an index case for a large group of people infected with the virus; in other words, infection in thousands of people was traced to one single individual, confirming how contagious this disease can be if not tackled at the root source. In the 2000s, the estimation of infected people had already grown to about 35 million cases of which South Africa had the highest number thereby making the country the most infected with HIV in the world as at then. Around 2005, a suppressor medication for HIV was created by scientists, called retroviral drug; this drug can reduce the division rate of the virus and prolong the actual life of the infected individual.
As bad as it may seem, there is still hope given that several methods exist to prevent the spread of the infection; one very important one is the total abstinence from sexual intercourse or the use of condoms during sexual intercourse. Others are:
- Not sharing sharp objects
- Proper screening of blood before transfusion
- Administration of retroviral drugs for pregnant women infected with the virus
- And such similar measures which are prescribed by certified medical practitioners.
Also, having a home test kit to quickly diagnose symptoms is key to knowing one’s status and acting appropriately afterward.