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As time passes, the number of HIV copies keeps increasing, while the number of helper T cells keeps decreasing. It typically takes several years after infection with HIV for the drop in T cells to cripple the immune system. This map shows the number of people in different countries with HIV infections and AIDS in 2008. Over the past 15 years, the number of people who die of AIDS each year in the United States has dropped by 70 percent. Practice - Answer these questions and the review questions below by posting a response in the comment section below.
Tip: To turn text into a link, highlight the text, then click on a page or file from the list above. Based on how HIV is transmitted, what can people do to protect themselves from becoming infected? This prevents antigen-specific lymphocytes from developing that could destroy cells infected with the virus.
This prevents the host’s immune system from detecting the antigens and destroying infected cells. What do you think explains the brief spike in T cells that occurs early in the HIV infection shown here?

Scientists think that the virus originally infected monkeys but then jumped to human populations, probably sometime during the early to mid-1900s.
But AIDS remains a serious public health crisis among low-income African-Americans, particularly women. In 1995, combinations of drugs called highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART)were developed.
It can also be transmitted through an infected mother’s blood to her baby during late pregnancy or birth or through breast milk after birth. In the process the T cell is destroyed, and the virus copies go on to infect other helper T cells.
As the number of T cells decreases, so does the ability of the immune system to defend the body.
This most likely occurred in West Africa, but the virus soon spread around the world (seeFigure below). With the proper medical treatment, an individual can live well over 10 or 20 or more productive years with an AIDS diagnosis. The diseases take advantage of the opportunity presented by people whose immune systems can’t fight back. But some amount of virus always hides in the body's immune cells and attacks again if the patient stops taking his or her medication.

One of the most famous individuals with HIV is Earvin "Magic" Johnson, a retired professional basketball player.
Because donated blood is now screened for HIV, the virus is no longer transmitted this way. Medicines can slow down the virus but not get rid of it, so there is no cure at present for HIV infections or AIDS.
The hardest hit countries are in Africa, where medicines to slow down the virus are least available. Researchers are working on developing a drug to wipe out this hidden virus, which could mean the end of AIDS.
There also is no vaccine to immunize people against HIV infection, but scientists are working to develop one. Individuals with poor access to health care are less likely to see a doctor early on in their HIV infection, and thus they may be more likely to transmit the infection.
HIV is now the leading cause of death for African American women between 24 and 35 years old.

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