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Aids Essay

3118 words - 13 pages

- -Acquired Immunodeficiency SyndromeBySociology 45November 1994AIDSAcquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome - AIDS - has stimulated more interest in history than any other disease of modern times. Since the epidemic was first identified in 1981, scientists, physicians, public officials, and journalists have frequently raised historical questions. Most often these questions have been about contemporary social and epidemiological history: Why did the disease emerge when and where it did? How has it spread among members of particular groups?What does the history of medical science and public health in this century suggest about our ability to control the epidemic and eventually to cure the ...view middle of the document...

The dynamic relationship between the biosocial environment and human - an 'ecology' of disease - helps explain the appearance, spread, and departure of specific health problems.PlagueThe first's case study is the final outbreak of bubonic plague among the inhabitants of Rome, which occurred in 1656. For a variety of political reasons - not least the vanity of the reigning pope - this episode was well-documented. The epidemic was fought with measures developed during the Renaissance, refined over nearly two centuries of organized responses to plague in the cities of northern Italy. These measures were widely adopted elsewhere in Europe and in theensuing centuries became the prototype for public health regulations regarding other disease, notable yellow fever and cholera.Although contemporary observers had detected a gradual decrease in the frequency and intensity of plague epidemics in Eastern Europe, authorities of the Papal States, which included Rome, were nevertheless carefully monitoring the health situation in the Mediterranean. This watch focused especially on the movement of potentially infected ships and their supposed lethal cargoes. One may ask why the plague was retreating in the face of growing urbanization and increases commercial contacts among nations. Was public health policy on epidemics gradually bearing fruit? Probably not. The quarantine system simple stemmed the flow of goods, humans, and ships, only indirectly hampering the movement of the real culprits, namely, infected rodents and the fleas. In fact, the regular recurrence of plague epidemics after 1349 owed more to contacts between urban rodents and their increasingly plague ridden cousins in the countryside than to the movement of ships with human victims, plague remained foremost a disease of rodents.Stalking the VirusFrom the very beginning, suspicion fell on cytomegalovirus (CMV). Early in the AIDS epidemic, some sing s of a possible relationship between this pathogen and Kaposi's sarcoma had been identified. Almost all the originalpatients had elevated titers of antibodies against this virus, and CMV itself had been found in their urine, blood, and even pulmonary tissue. Yet CMV infection had been recognized for years prior to the new epidemic and had been found in many individuals with none of the manifestation of the immune deficiency syndromes.What is a VirusThe term 'virus' in Latin means 'juice,' 'humor,' or more commonly 'poison,' was used in the nineteenth century to described any substance capable of multiplying within an organism and making it stick. It was applied indiscriminately to all pathogens.In 1891 Dmitri I. Ivanoski, a Russian botanist, was able to demonstrate that a pathogen could indeed be 'inframicroscopic.' He passed liquid, containing infected material derived from a plant disease with tobacco mosaic, through a porcelain filter and demonstrated that it did not lose its virulence. Before the term 'virus' was applied exclusively to this category...

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