AIDS—Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is the most dreadful disease in the history of mankind, which has caused a great havoc in the minds of people. AIDS victims are treated in the same way as leprosy patents were used to be sometimes back. They are being neglected and abandoned by their friends, relatives and family members. All this makes life of the patients miserable.
AIDS is caused by a virus cal led HI V (Human Immune-deficiency) virus named by WHO. This virus destroys human body’s immune system with the destruction of immune mechanism of body, the victim becomes prone to many bacterial infections. Following symptoms may appear singly or in combination with others or may be altogether suppressed: significant loss of weight, cough with thick sputum, persistent watery diarrhea, swollen glands in armpits, groin and sides of neck, oral and anal ulcers, persistent feeling of tiredness, reduction in the number of WBC RBC and blood platelets.
According to WHO estimates, AIDS epidemic is sweeping across the central Africa where at least 50,000 have AIDS symptoms and more than two millions are infected. The first AIDS patient appeared in New York. However, it was only in 1983 that a French research team of the famed Pasteur Institute of Paris headed by Dr. Lue Montagnier succeeded in isolating the virus from a French AIDS patient who had got infected in New York. Three months later a research group identified this virus in an American patient. In Europe, France is the worst victim followed by West Germany and U.K.
AIDS may be transmitted in the many ways. These are by homo and hetro sexual exchange of body fluids, when victim’s blood which carries virus, comes into contact with the blood of another person. Needles shared by intravenous drug addicts can (tarry the virus from one person to another. It may also spread through blood transfusion, babies can get AIDS virus from their mother during the process of delivery itself, through the saliva and tears of the infected persons, through mother’s milk and doctors and paramedical workers may get the disease during their professional duties.
In 1986 Indian Council of Medical Research formed an AIDS Committee to advise on steps to tackle the disease. Five separate AIDS management clinics were set up at New Delhi, Srinagar, Calcutta, Madras and Bombay. The authorities are paying their full attention to educate the public on preventive measures and creating awareness about the disease. Since the target group of AIDS patient is the STD i.e. Sexuality Transmitted Disease patients the STD control programme has been further intensified during the Eighth Plan period by (i) establishment of new STD clinic and augmenting the existing ones; (ii) providing free essential drugs to the STD clinics; (iii) opening more survey-cum-epidemiological units in states. WHO has also been asked to assist in implementation of the schemes for prevention and control of AIDS in India.
The Regional Director of WHO has discounted the rumours that AIDS can be passed on by drinking water from the same glass as an infected person, by swimming in pools used by AIDS patients, by mosquito bite or by having one’s haircut at the same saloon. All persons exposed to the AIDS virus may not get infected genetic susceptibility or the proneness to infection with the virus is an important factor.
Although no cure is yet in sight, the fight against AIDS has proved to be time of the glories of the modern medicine. Continuous research is going on, newer and effective drugs to kill AIDS virus are being tested, but so far no encouraging results have been obtained. But one should, never give up hope. We will keep on trying and trying until success is reached.