Hiv and Africa Essay

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African Progress on the Disease Front HIV/AIDS is a major public health concern in Africa. The leading cause of death in Africa is also HIV/AIDS. HIV stands for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus and AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is caused by the lentivirus that is a slow replicating retrovirus. The virus leads to the progressive failure of the immune system which allows opportunistic infections and cancers the potential to flourish. Infection of HIV/AIDS may be transferred through semen, vaginal fluids, pre-ejaculate, breast milk, or blood. The earliest known cases of human HIV infection have been linked to western equatorial Africa, (southeast Cameroon) where groups of the central common chimpanzee live. "Phylogenetic analyses revealed that all HIV-1 strains known to infect humans, were closely related to one of these lineages: that found in P. t. troglodytes [the central common chimpanzee]." The disease is associated with the preparation for human consumption of flesh from freshly killed chimpanzees. It is hypothesized that once the virus jumped from chimpanzees or other apes to humans, the colonial medical practices of the 20th century helped HIV become established in human populations by 1930. HIV was gradually spread by river travel. All the rivers in Cameroon run into the Sangha River, which joins the Congo River running past Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Trade along the rivers could have spread the virus, which built up slowly in the human population. By the 1960s, about 2,000 people in Africa may have had HIV, including people in Kishasa whose tissue samples from 1959 and 1960 have been preserved and studied retrospectively. The first epidemic of HIV/AIDS is believed to have occurred in Kinshasa in the 1970s, signaled by a surge in opportunistic infections such as Meningitis, Kaposi's sarcoma, tuberculosis,
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