AIDS: History of a Dangerous Disease

A dangerous existing disease is called Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome which is commonly known as AIDS. This is rather a syndrome of HIV infection with opportunistic infections. This disease progressively reduces the effectiveness of the immune system and leaves individuals susceptible to opportunistic infections and tumors. Absence of immunity makes the patient vulnerable to diseases without any way to fight them, where a simple flu can debilitate an HIV-infected person.

The origin of AIDS

The place from where AIDS originated is identified as Kinshasha which is located in DR Congo. A man having the symptoms of AIDS died in 1959. The laboratory tests reported that the man was infected by HIV. His cause of death was from complications caused by the viral infection. His infection remained a mystery although many medical experts believed that the disease was a form of SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) which was transferred from the chimpanzees to humans through eating of monkey brains and meat.

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The discovery of AIDS

The extensive incidents of this disease in New York and California back in 1981 led to its discovery. Recorded cases of otherwise healthy young men succumbing to a variety of diseases such as Karposi’s Sarcoma, a form of cancer, and Pneumocystis, a rare pneumonia, alarmed the medical community. Doctors called this outbreak GRID (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency) which stigmatized the gay community as carriers of this new disease.

The researchers began calling the new disease as AIDS in 1982. It described the occurrences of opportunistic infections – Karposi’s Sarcoma and Pneumocystis pneumonia in healthy young men. After a year, 32 countries confirmed incidents of the same disease in the United States.

Isolating the Virus

French researchers at the Pasteur Institute isolated a retrovirus in 1983 that they believed to have caused AIDS. The virus was called human T-cell lymphotropic virus-type III/lymphadenopathy- associated virus (HTLV-III/LAV). It was later called human immunodeficiency virus when the source of the virus was traced to the SIV that killed the African monkeys.

The French researchers were the first to isolate the virus but the US government credits its discovery to Doctor Robert Gallo who claimed he has isolated retrovirus HTLV-III that was responsible for AIDS. Both viruses were confirmed to be the same a couple of years later. However the credit for its discovery remained with Gallo. An international committee of scientists later renamed the virus as HIV.

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Treatments for the disease

A new treatment for the cure of disease was invented im 1987 after nearly six years of hard and intensive medical research. A drug was approved by FDA called Retrovir (AZT, Zidovudine) in high doses to treat HIV patients. FDA approved a drug later in 1992 which was the first to be used in combination with AZT. The addition of drug, “Hivid” marked the beginning of HIV/AIDS combination therapies.

Cures were successfully developed to fight AIDS and a breakthrough was made when powerful HIV-fighting drugs called Protease Inhibitors were introduced in 1996. Using these drugs in combination with existing HIV/AIDS drugs was effective in controlling the spreading of HIV. These therapies seemed like the best option available for HIV/AIDS patients. However a year later, scientists discovered that despite the potency of the drugs HIV/AIDS hides in body reservoirs that makes impossible to find the cure for HIV/AIDS.