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Main > Specialty Areas > Immunology >
HIV (AIDS)

What is HIV (AIDS)?

AIDS, or the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a disease of the immune system that leads to its destruction. The symptoms of the new disease were first officially discovered in 1978 in Sweden among the gay male population and in Tanzania and Haiti (among their heterosexual population). In 1983 the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) – the virus that causes AIDS – was discovered.

More than twenty years later scientists know a lot more about the nature and the origins of the virus. For example, it is known that the virus probably originated somewhere in the West Africa in the 1960s or 1940s; its nature and structure has been extensively studied and documented; so were its transmission routes and behavior and yet, no cure for AIDS have been found so far. The number of people with HIV/AIDS in the world has topped the 40 million mark and is growing fast, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where, in some countries, every one person out of four is infected. Other areas, such as China and Russia, which lack effective prevention and awareness programs have recently witnessed an explosion in the numbers of HIV-infected people.

Organ Info:
Immune System is not one organ, but rather a whole complex of organs that work together to clear infections from the body. These are known as lymphoid organs; they are positioned throughout the body and are linked by a separate circulatory system that carries lymph – fluid that contains white blood cells (lymphocytes), which are the actual soldiers in the body's fights with infection.

Lymphocytes attack and destroy diseased cells. They recognize diseased cells by "learning" to spot the signs of various infections. Thus, surviving an infectious disease would usually give a person some degree of immunity against it – which means that the immune system had learnt to recognize its symptoms and is better equipped to destroy the infection.

How Is HIV Transmitted? ››

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