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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

HIV-AIDS: Global Trend

Philip S. Chua, Jan 16, 2007

A person between the ages of 15 and 24 around the world is infected with the HIV every 14 seconds. Or, about 4 cases every minute. More than thirteen million children today are orphans because of AIDS.

Globally, there are 42 million people living with HIV today, up from 40 million in year 2001, and mostly among young people (15-49). Majority of these live in the poorest countries around the globe. In Asia and the Pacific, 7.2 million have HIV infection (more than a million in China alone), a ten percent increase from 2001. Since the epidemic started in the late 70s, the total deaths from AIDS worldwide at the end of year 2000 was 21.8 million. Last year alone, 3 million died of AIDS worldwide, about 8000 a day! Roughly 50% of people with AIDS are women. In Indonesia, it is reported that 43,000 intravenous drug addicts were infected with HIV last year, predicted to double by the end of 2003. In Africa, 25.3 million people have HIV/AIDS. Seventy five percent of adults and 80% of children with HIV-AIDS live in Africa, and in year 2000 alone, there were 2.4 million Africans who died of AIDS and related causes. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 1.2 million; Latin America, 1.9 million (210,000 acquired in 2002); Japan, 83,000 got infected with HIV in 2002. In the Philippines, there are 1,921 cases of AIDS in 2003, 13 cases of these were acquired thru blood products (about 80% thru sexual intercourse). This covers the period from January 1984 to August 2003. In Cebu, the cases of AIDS have stabilized at 56, and it is encouraging to note that the increase in the entire country has remained low and slow, compared to other affected parts of the world.

What is AIDS and what is HIV?

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and HIV means Human Immunodeficiency Virus, the agent responsible for the disease. Most of those infected with HIV would develop AIDS within 12-15 years from the time they were first infected, according to the World Health Organization.

How does the virus cause the disease?

HIV attacks the immune system of the infected person and destroys the CD4 cells (the “generals” in our immune system army), rendering the body’s “security force” without its “commanders,”weak and defenseless to fight off infections. When the immune system breaks down, opportunistic infections set in and the person develops serious and deadly infections and certain form of cancer, all complications of AIDS.

How is AIDS transmitted?

The virus can be transmitted through the following body fluids: blood, pre-ejaculate fluid, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk. There is no evidence that HIV is transmitted through sweat, tears, urine or saliva, since the concentration in these body fluids is so small. However, if, say the saliva is contaminated with blood from bleeding gums or a cut in the mouth of an AIDS patient, that saliva can transmit HIV. Kissing, in this situation, is risky.

Can HIV enter the skin?

No, the virus cannot penetrate the skin, unless the skin is cut or broken, in which case transmission becomes possible. Shaking hands with an infected person is safe. The virus cannot be transmitted through the air by sneezing or coughing either. These are the reasons why casual contact with people with HIV infection is absolutely not dangerous. The widespread misinformation and ignorance have led to unnecessary fear in people’s mind and the added emotional suffering on the part of victims of AIDS.

How does HIV enter the body?

The virus enters the bloodstream through mucous membranes, like the lining of the rectum, the walls of the vagina, the urethra (passage channel of the penis), nose, mouth and throat, or by intravenous transfusion of any infected fluid, like blood, plasma, etc., or use of a contaminated needle. The virus must get into the blood stream to cause AIDS.

Can one get HIV through oral sex?

Most definitely, especially the person giving the oral sex, since she/he is exposed to pre-ejaculate fluid, semen, or vaginal secretions and menstrual blood. If there is dental carries, open sores, cut or abrasions in the mouth or gums, the virus can enter the blood stream even faster. While the risk in vaginal or anal sex and in giving oral sex is higher than that of receiving oral sex, the latter form of contact is likewise risky and could be as deadly.

Can a woman transmit HIV to the baby in her womb?

Yes, maternal to fetal transmission is obviously the rule since their individual blood circulation is “connected” with each other.

Does bleach kill the HIV?

Yes, Chlorox (bleach), with high concentration of Chlorine, kills HIV. This is what “smart” or experienced drug addicts use to “sterilize” their needles and other paraphernalia used in “pushing” narcotics and other illegal drugs. However, there is no guarantee that this practice is effective, since the sterilization technique could be flawed.

Are condoms effective?

The use of latex condoms has been proven to be effective in the prevention of HIV infection and other sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs). However, condoms are known to develop holes or tears during rough handling or during the actual sex act, which will then allow disease transmission. The best practice is not to have sex with someone who could be exposed to HIV or other sexually-transmitted diseases. Those with multiple partners have been shown to be at a greater risk, compared to partners who are both monogamous.


How soon does HIV infection lead to AIDS?

A blood test that is negative for HIV does not guarantee the person exposed to HIV that he/she will not develop AIDS. As a rule, it can take 5 to 15 years (after exposure) before people infected with HIV develop AIDS. An infected person may not even know he/she has HIV infection. This is the reason why everyone must be extra-cautious, because AIDS is indeed a death sentence, one that is preceded by a horrible stage of existence, humiliation, pain and suffering, not only for the patient but for the entire family.