Thursday, December 01, 2005

World AIDS Day - Today

Acquired immune deficiency disease (AIDS) is the result of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus. This is a terrible disease, it basically destroys your immune system. Forty million people are infected with HIV worldwide. Last year 3 million new cases appeared. 8000 people die as a result of AIDS every day. There are only 4 ways you can become infected with HIV: (1)unprotected sex with an infected partner, (2) sharing HIV-contaminated needles, (3)transfusion with infected blood or blood products or transplanted infected tissue or organs, (4) from infected mother to child, in the womb or by breastfeeding. All of these means of infection can be prevented. A huge amount of money is spent on research, drugs, and medical treatment, 19.7 billion dollars in the USA last year.

Tuberculosis is caused by infection with the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. 2 billion people are infected worldwide. Every year 3 million people die from tuberculosis, 1 million die needlessly because they were also infected with AIDS. Although TB can be treated with drugs, preventing TB is very difficult. The NIH spends about $40 million dollars on TB research.

Malaria is caused by infection with the protozoan parasite Plasmodium falciparum and 3 other strains of lesser importance. 300-500 million people are infected with malaria with 1-2 million dying every year. Most of these being very young children. Malaria can be treated with drugs but it can also be prevented by getting rid of the mosquito vector that transmitts the disease. The NIH probably spends about as much on malaria as it does on TB, maybe less.

Why does the USA spend so much money on AIDS and not so much on TB and Malaria. Simple, very few people in the USA become infected with TB or Malaria.

Find out more about these diseases at this website.

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