Friday, July 30, 2010

Blog 7: Editorial- HIV/ AIDS epedemic- Get involved!

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) has been responsible for increasing the death rate of humans for decades. It is the cause of major epidemic in small world countries. HIV is a non discriminating disease, effecting men, women, and children. It does not discriminate on racial ethnicity.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus attacks the immune system causing its victim’s immune system to begin to lose the ability to fight infection. HIV is spread by sexual contact with someone with HIV, sharing needles with someone who has HIV, breast feeding from a mother infected with HIV, or through blood transfusions. The death toll of HIV infected individuals in third world or underdeveloped countries is alarmingly high. A person infected with HIV, with and especially without medical treatment, cannot risk the chance of infection of a typical cold because their immune system cannot react and mend the body as in a non infected individual.
Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the virus that causes Aids. HIV attacks the immune system rendering it defenseless against opportunistic diseases. In 2006, 4.5 million people were newly infected with HIV. Also in 2006, 2.9 million people infected with AIDS died. The majority of the death toll comes from Africa, with a staggering 2.1 million deaths.
In 1985 the FDA also approved a drug for the treatment of HIV- AZT. The drug did not cure HIV but helped with maintaining the health of patients infected with HIV. (There is no cure for HIV/ AIDS!) It was effective because it helped to keep the number of T-cells (white blood cells) high- a major issue with HIV infected people.
I am a peer specialist in the HOPE project at Pine Belt Mental Health Facility in Hattiesburg. The goal of the project is to inform the local youth of preventive measures against the spread of HIV/ AIDS, how easily it is contracted, and the facts of HIV/ AIDS. Before getting involved with HOPE, I did not realize how misinformed my local peers are on HIV! Some did not know that if you thought you could be infected with the virus that there is a window of time that you must wait to get tested. Getting tested right away, as some do, can return false- negative results. The proper time-line is to get tested three to four months after supposed infection.
The HOPE project is aimed at informing the public pressure free- we even call the meetings a HOPE party- we even play high speed trivia games with bells to buzz in! It is a stress free party because we want the tone of the party to be light but informative. This allows us to break barriers and make people feel more comfortable asking questions they would normally be too uncomfortable to ask.
Being involved in the HOPE project allows me to have some part in the HIV/ AIDS awareness movement. I think it is very beneficial for the youth of today to get involved with this movement! It is our generation that is continually contracting a very preventable disease. Being involved in this movement could allow you to impact the life of someone who may not know just how prevalent HIV/ AIDS is in their own city. You could be the one to inform and prevent them from contracting this life-changing disease. Get informed, get involved- or it could be you!

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