Bodily Defenses Image Map

AIDS/HIV (continued)
Why is AIDS so bad?
As discussed earlier, AIDS/HIV causes the immune system to no longer function.  HIV causes people to become sick with infections that normally wouldn't affect them. Diseases like cancer and pneumonia can set in.  These diseases are called opportunistic diseases because they invade after the immune system has been compromised.   Although the HIV virus itself can cause some flu-like symptoms, it is actually the opportunistic diseases that kill AIDS victims. 

How is AIDS treated?
Currently there is no cure or vaccination for the HIV virus.  Doctors will prescribe a variety of medicines, including antiviral drugs (those that destroy viruses) and immunomodulator drugs (those that increase the effects of the immune system).   However, most drugs are used to treat the symptoms, not the cause.  While drugs will prolong the life of the patient, it will not cure them. 

Where is AIDS most prevalent?
AIDS has reached epidemic proportions in several areas of the world.  However, Africa has been the center of the crisis since the beginning.  The sub-Saharan Africa is the area of the world with the greatest prevalence of AIDS, followed by southeast Asia.  Several relief projects are underway to give these people medicine and treatment.

Conclusion
Although AIDS is more widespread than ever before, medicine is providing the public with more answers.  We now know how it is transmitted and how we can prevent the disease.  Armed with this knowledge, hopefully people will protect themselves and we can hold the epidemic in check until there is a vaccine or a cure for the disease.  To find out more information concerning AIDS and the HIV virus, check out these websites:
www.aacap.org/publications/factsfam/aids.htm
www.sfaf.org/aids101/
http://www.aidsinfo.nih.gov/
www.projectinform.org/




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