A Brief History of AIDS:

The HIV virus, first isolated by the Pasteur Institute (Dr Robert Gallo at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) fraudulently claimed to have discovered it at the same time, and was credited as the discoverer for many years in the US) in 1984, was originally called HTLV-III. It had existed for many years in Africa before spreading to the United States around 1980. Blood samples from patients who died of AIDS as far back as 1959 in the Belgian Congo (then Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) were found to contain HIV, and computer sequence analysis of those samples and others taken since then would indicate HIV emerged into the human population in approximately 1930. The original source is unknown, however, researchers have discovered a virus that infects chimpanzees, called SIVcpz, which is very similar to HIV-1 (the most common form of HIV in humans). This virus, however, is not common in chimpanzees. It is possible that they were infected by still a 3rd source.

There are several theories as to how this virus could have crossed from chimpanzees to humans, with possibilities being people eating chimp meat and chimpanzee kidneys being used to make polio vaccines.

From Africa, the disease spread to several other third world countries, including Haiti. That is where a gay French-Canadian flight attendant named Gaetan Dugas contracted the disease (at a well-known Hatian gay resort). Dugas has since become known as patient zero, as he was the original case from which most of the earliest cases in the US were infected. His profession and lifestyle were the very worst case scenario for the spread of a disease such as AIDS. He was highly promiscuous, and travelled continually. Almost every place he stopped, he would infect another individual, who would then spread it to others. Even more tragic, he continued to live like this, even after he was diagnosed, spreading the disease to countless others until his death in 1984.

Because patient zero was gay, most of the initial cases of HIV were also gay men. The disease now known as AIDS went through a series of names that reflected this, such as "gay cancer" and GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency). This, of course, in the conservative Ronald Reagan era of the 80s, spelled little funding for those attempting to research the disease, as the afflicted were social "undesirables" like homosexuals and IV drug users. It wasn't until the disease started affecting heterosexuals in large numbers that the real funding started. It should be noted that there are people partially immune to HIV. It is due to a somewhat rare (must be homozygous for immunity) mutation in one of their macrophage surface receptors, and was first noticed among highly at-risk populations.

Official NIH statistics:

As of the end of 1999, an estimated 33.6 million people worldwide – 32.4 million adults and 1.2 million children younger than 15 years – were living with HIV/AIDS. More than 69 percent of these people (23.3 million) live in Sub-Saharan Africa; another 18 percent (6.0 million) live in South and Southeast Asia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 650,000 to 900,000 U.S. residents are living with HIV infection, of whom more than 200,000 are unaware of their infection.

The rate of AIDS-related deaths reported in the United States in 1998 (per 100,000 population) was 32.5 among blacks, 12.2 among Hispanics, 3.3 among whites, 4.2 among American Indians/Alaska Natives, and 1.3 among Asians/Pacific Islanders

Recently, there has been news of a possible vaccine for AIDS discovered by the researchers at Colombia University. The possibility of this vaccine comes from the analysis of the protein coat of HIV called gp120. By injecting the protein, it may be possible for the body to produce antibodies that can fight against HIV before the immune system is damaged. Since the injection is only a protein, there would be no chance of actually contracting HIV.

Natural deaths in South Africa's overcrowded prisons have rocketed by 584% in the past five years, mostly as a result of AIDS. There were 3000 prisoners who were known to be infected among the 162000 convicts making up the prison population. Postmortem examination on the prisoners who are dying of natural causes shows that they appear to have been caused by AIDS in most of the cases. The lack of mandatory testing meant that the real incidence of HIV/AIDS is not known.

There are not a specific budget for the treatment of AIDS, but it is noted that the increase in "natural deaths" in prisons is definitely putting the department's medical budget under considerable pressure.

Based on that, unless a cure is found, deaths of prisoners caused by AIDS will amount to 7000 prisoners a year in five years and 45000 a year in 10 years.

Recently, Canadian researchers have been focusing on findings of a natural resistance to AIDS and HIV among prostitutes who work in Kenya. In the relatively short and painful history of AIDS, this natural immunity to HIV/AIDS displayed by promiscuous gay men and these Nairobi women has been ignored and overlooked.

These women have been prostitutes in Kenya for periods of ten to twenty years. The AIDS statistics show that 1 in 5 Africans are infected, and 1 in 3 of these women's clientele are most likely carrying the AIDS virus. How are these women serving multiple men per day and still remaining free of the virus? Scientists think it's got something to do with their T-cell count, and when their bodies are first attacked with the virus, the T-cell count rises to a level where it can efficiently attack the HIV and knock it out of the body's system. Since the women are repeatedly exposed to the virus on a constant basis by sleeping with infected men, their T-cell count remains at such a high level that they basically become immune to HIV, and consequently, AIDS.

Such a discovery has amazing potential in the fieldwork of AIDS research. However, controversies will not be settled easily, as there are multiple strains of AIDS and most research has been focused on finding a cure, or now possibly a vaccine, for the one found most commonly within the United States. If we find a vaccine for the U.S. strain, one may not come so quickly for Africa's strain. However, if research is focused on finding help for Africa, you can bet your bottom dollar that research funding for the U.S. is sure to quickly follow. It's sad to say, but the decision now is mostly in the hands of the governments, and the pharmeceutical companies who control the funding for such research.
AI koans = A = AIDX

AIDS /aydz/ n.

Short for A* Infected Disk Syndrome (`A*' is a glob pattern that matches, but is not limited to, Apple or Amiga), this condition is quite often the result of practicing unsafe SEX. See virus, worm, Trojan horse, virgin.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, this entry manually entered by rootbeer277.

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