A Global Pandemic?
What is HIV?
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS
(acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). This virus is passed from
one person to another through blood and sexual contact.
infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their baby during pregnancy
or delivery, as well as through breast-feeding. Nobody is sure
where HIV came from.
Scientists have different theories about
the origin of HIV, but none have been proven. The earliest known
of HIV was from a blood sample collected in 1959 from a man
in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, but how he became infected
HIV to AIDS
Being HIV-positive, or having HIV disease, is not the same as having
AIDS. Many people are HIV-positive but don't get sick for many
As HIV disease continues, it slowly wears down the immune
system – that is the system within the body which fights
infection and disease. HIV disease becomes AIDS when your immune
system is seriously damaged.
As this happens, viruses, infections
and bacteria which normally the body can fight off become more
dangerous – these infections are called ‘opportunistic
infections’. Without treatment, these opportunistic infections
can kill you.
Over 40 million people world wide now living with HIV, of whom about
95% are in developing countries.
It is estimated that about 14,000
people become newly infected with HIV every day. More than half
of these newly infected with HIV today are between the age of
15 and 24 years old, whilst there are an estimated 3 million children
already living with HIV/AIDS.
Of all new infections in 2001,
were in Sub Saharan Africa and 16% in South and South East
Asia. To date, over 14 million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS.
There is no cure for AIDS or HIV. There are only drugs that can slow
down the HIV virus, and slow down the damage to the body’s
These patented drugs are currently very expensive,
and the fact that treatments work better when a combination of
drugs are used together makes treatment exorbitant for many in
Despite attempts by the World Trade Organisation
(WTO) to make cheaper generic drugs available, no agreement was
reached in December 2002 – as the USA refused to sign up
to the proposals agreed by 143 other countries.