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Thursday, 28 July 2011

AIDS - A Short History

There are two types of the Aids virus and in 1981 the first one HIV-1 was conclusively identified in the United States (HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus). It appears it originated in Central Africa where the disease had been spreading silently for years.

The principal means of transmission of HIV-1 is through homosexual contact and through blood and blood products and the first AIDS patients in the Americas and Europe were almost exclusively male homosexuals or those who employed unsterilized intravenous needles to inject illegal drugs.

Four years later HIV-2 was identified in West Africa and in this case its transmission is generally via heterosexual intercourse. With the rapid growth of this virus in Africa and Asia many are catching it from Aids infected sexual partners and increasingly the children of such couples are being affected.

By the beginning of the present century in some African countries currently over one third of the population were HIV positive, including 5 million citizens in South Africa alone.

Due to the widespread use of drugs and unsafe sex HIV/AIDS is becoming an increasing problem in China, India and South East Asia as well as Russia and Eastern Europe. Worldwide in the next few decades AIDS is expected to kill hundreds of millions.

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