Humans are at the top-most of evolutionary ladder. Most evolved coz Brain is evolved yes, also the Immune system i.e. the defense mechanisms operating in the body are extremely sophisticated. And then there are other species, enormous variety that conveys to us the unbelievable diversity that exists in our eco-system. Then there is competition between them all. Inter-species, Intra-species, inside the organism with pathogens, outside the organism with the environment. The race towards survival.
We humans act smart here. We formulate methods for keeping other species under-control. We categorize them, give them bharry scientific names, randomly harm their parts, destroy them, blah blah. And while all the pandemonium is up, a non-living particle enters the cell, smartly forces the cell to do the reproduction for it, destroys the cell to go attack some more cells. Yes, I talk of viruses; Precisely what this post is all about.
The viral particle is like the most compact traveling kit! Either DNA or RNA with some associated basic proteins. It doesn't even have reproducing machinery, it uses the host's! We keep wondering here whether to club them in living or non-living things and meanwhile, it has already made several copies of its own and is all sett to kill the host cell. Our supreme friend doesn't even care about not being in the evolutionary ladder as it fails to fit in the definition of evolution. Ha ha, it fails to fit in the definition of living things.
Our high-class pharmacological research has yet not been able 2 find a remedy to any viral infection, and I am no bluff. All we do by medicines is subside symptoms and help body activate its own immune response to take care of them, the viral particles. And Immune cells are smart, just that virus is smarter.
Well, cells recognize that thr is some jhol up with the body. They go identify the problem. Do all the mehnat, take 14 days and produce antibodies against them and when the antibodies come back to the site, they can't find the virus. Why? coz its changed! Its structure, conformation everything! Now antibodies are specific, so all the work is down the drain. And this happens too many number of times, depending on the genome of the virus of course. For HIV [Human Immuno-deficiency Virus], an HIV infected person can have as much has 100 types of viruses circulating in the body. But then, AIDS is all together a new story.
Not too long ago, in 1983, the first case of AIDS was reported. AIDS = Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome. The world got into tight spot and efforts of over-coming the virus began. But the virus spread, so far-wide that now its 25 years since its discovery and every part of the world has the same story. But, no-one dies of AIDS. Then why make so much noise? coz AIDS affects the very cells of the immune system. The defense mechanism of the whole body collapses, and body is susceptible to any attack. People can die of common cold in AIDS, coz body can't cure it, coz the cells who do the curing themselves are down with HIV. And this is the most-naive description :-|
Then efforts were concentrated on prevention. Now, all of us know that AIDS spread through 3 means. What we don't know is,
*~* The max amount of transmission of the virus in the world is via Homo-sexuality.
*~* Least cases of AIDS are seen in countries where prostitution is legal.
*~* Condoms are not a full-proof method to stop HIV transmission.
*~* Mother can transmit the virus into her child even after birth.
*~* Kissing can cause transmission of the virus.
*~* AIDS can be a cause of Cancer.
*~* Patients can live healthy life upto 7-8 years after detection. Under good medical guidance. But detection can take 5-10 years too, depending on strength of immune system.
*~* AIDS generated in Africa, went to Great Britain and US, which led to the scattering to the whole world.
*~* Blood once tested HIV negative, need not be so always. Prefer person-to-person transfusion.
*~* Use of needles, for tattooing, drug-abuse, even blood testing, has caused various cases of AIDS world-wide.
Shocked? Its better to be aware, don't you think?
P.S. This is an awareness post. For other detailed information, please refer to the comments. I am so glad that the comments have touched various aspects of the disease and some are more exhaustive than the post :-P
Yes, I am passionate about science. :-)