3 Decades of HIV/AIDS

Knowledge is POWER. Accurate and timely information is a basic element of knowledge and is essential to those who are working to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This epidemic has created more published literature than any other disease in history, and advances in research and therapy have been extraordinary. Consequently, keeping up with the most current information can be extremely challenging. In an effort to combat the threat of AIDS, healthcare facilities have mounted an intensive education and training effort to ensure that all healthcare workers know and follow the recommended measures to prevent the transmission of HIV, and that they are given the tools to pass this vital information on to others.

June 5, 2011 marked three decades since the emergence of a mysterious virus that has since become the most devastating disease known to mankind – AIDS. Globally, there were 3.2 million children living with HIV in 2013, 240,000 new infections among children, and 190,000 AIDS deaths. It has grown into a global pandemic killing more than 33 million people around the world, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The first report of what we now know as “AIDS” was published in June of 1981 in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report. This report described a type of pneumonia — then known as Pneumocystis carinii and since renamed P jiroveci — that affected mainly immuno-compromised individuals. Similar reports quickly followed. Two years later, the virus (HIV) responsible for AIDS was isolated by Montagner and Gallo who share a Nobel prize for that accomplishment.

It is now known that the anti-retroviral treatment can stop the disease from worsening and enables AIDS patients to live for as long as healthy people do, said Choi Jun-Yong, of the division of infectious diseases at Yonsei University’s Severance Hospital. We have yet to reach the stage where we can completely cure it. But it is like diabetes and hypertension, which can be managed through long-term, consistent treatment even though they cannot be fully cured. The understanding of HIV and AIDS has been broad and deep and has involved millions of research hours and billions of dollars. Yet, there is no cure for AIDS. There is no completely safe and effective vaccine for the prevention of AIDS. There is reasonable chemotherapy and control for the disease. There is management of AIDS and there is promise of more advances toward a better end result for AIDS patients throughout the world.

While a cure for HIV remains elusive, for the first time ever, HIV/AIDS efforts in the US are led by a single, coordinated effort, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy announced in July 2010. The three primary goals of the strategy are reducing incidence, increasing access to care and optimizing health outcomes, and reducing HIV-related health disparities. To help remove such prejudices, it is crucial to provide proper education to young students. It is not just a problem facing homosexuals.U.S. actor Rock Hudson died in 1985 after announcing his infection in the same year. Freddie Mercury, singer of the British band Queen, died of AIDS in 1991. U.S. basketball star Magic Johnson has been at the vanguard of an AIDS-prevention campaign for nearly two decades since being diagnosed with the disease in 1991. Other high-profile AIDS patients include French philosopher Michel Foucault who died in 1984. But as a series of TV personalities and public figures died tragically, the public started to see HIV patients with more compassion.

Celeste Botonakis

On the Nursing Assistant Guides blog, certified medical assistant Celeste Botonakis explores the daily life of a CMA. She'll keep you up-to-date with the latest on what’s happening in the field, and provides tips for those who are interested in becoming a medical or nursing assistant. Celeste has served in the medical field for over six years, and is passionate about helping people. She currently works at CSR Primary Care in Skokie, Illinois. Click here to learn more about Celeste Botonakis and NursingAssistantGuides.com.