View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Tuesday 1 December

Back in 1985, I wrote an essay on AIDS, HIV and the treatments available at the time. It was around that time that the disease Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome had come into prominence, some 25 years after it first emerged in humans in Uganda. Apparently, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (which gives rise to the complex of symptoms that is called AIDS) came from monkeys, and thanks to human interference jumped the species barrier. Another species of animal that gets a comparable disease is cats, where it is called FIV, feline immunodeficiency virus. HIV attacks the immune system, leaving the body open to all sorts of infections. These are not normally a problem in healthy people, but cause serious illness in someone with HIV infection. HIV is transmitted through body fluids. Blood transfusions were initially a source of infection. HIV's main transmission route is sexual intercourse. In the 80s, the disease first manifested itself amongst homosexual men, but very soon found its way into the heterosexual community. After a public awareness campaign, the usage of condoms and the practicing of safe sex increased markedly, but a recent news item warned that AIDS is in the ascendancy again in the young, teenagers and young adults. The safe sex message has not gotten through to them - yet. AIDS is not curable, although drugs have been developed which slow the progression of the disease by slowing the multiplication of HIV. Research into a cure continues, as does research into a possible vaccine.