Acquisition of AIDS is the result of an infection from the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV. The syndrome slowly destroys the immune system, leaving the infected individuals highly susceptible to opportunistic diseases such as pneumonia, gastrointestinal infections and even tumors. The primary mode of transmission has remained constant all throughout the course of the HIV plague. The virus can be transferred during sexual intercourse, exposure to contaminated body fluids, and through perinatal transmission. The rate of transmission has altered dramatically during its’ first 19 years in America. During the 80’s to 90’s, a grave increase has been observed in intravenous prohibited drug users, heterosexual groups, and in pregnant women. Although majority of Americans with HIV remain among men who prefer to engage in sexual activities with other men, this number has decreased noticeably. The occurrence of HIV infections among homosexuals in ethnic groups and racial minorities continue to increase, although it has somewhat lessened in Caucasian homosexuals.
In young adults aged 19 to 29, the number of cases has risen remarkably; HIV and AIDS are now among the top leading causes of death among ages 25 – 44. Perhaps the most ignored HIV and AIDS-infected age group is adults above the age of 50. In 1999, around 11% of the America’s reported AIDS cases were of this age group. People over 50 may not be considered at risk for HIV therefore they HIV and AIDS screenings in this group are neglected. Women over 50 usually acquire HIV through heterosexual contact. While the major number of known AIDS and HIV cases has occurred in larger municipalities, a considerable emergence of the disease has flared up in smaller rural regions.
Studies on AIDS cases in USA concluded that as of the end of 2007, an expected 470,000 people were living with AIDS. The primary mode of infection worldwide remains to be sexual contact. One significant observation noted from the spread of HIV is sexual performance rather than sexual inclination puts people at risk for STDs. Homosexual males who refrain from excessive and/or unprotected sex are still at less risk than heterosexuals who practice unsafe sex.
Other risk factors include promiscuous sexual behaviors, especially those under the influence of alcohol, and the presence of genital sores or open wounds. Although the amount of cases reported is less in oral sexual practice, it is still a likely form of transmission.
Monogamous couples are at low risk regardless of their homo- or heterosexuality. However, the tendency for sexual encounters outside these relationships does pose a problem. For all couples, safe sex is always advised. This includes masturbation, monogamy among non-infected individuals, use of barrier contraceptives and self-discipline.
In order to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS infections, it is crucial to get routine screenings at STD clinics. Though it cannot be cured, there is still hope to control the spread of this disease.