TEENS AND AIDS
Is HIV infection a serious problem for young people in America? The following facts indicate that HIV infection is occurring at an alarming rate among teens in the U.S. (The information below was found in a textbook entitled, AIDS UPDATE 1999 which was written by Gerald J. Stine. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.)
At least two (2) teenagers in America become HIV-infected each hour! That is approximately 350 each week engage in some kind of risky behavior, e.g., have sex, and become infected. (This number is expected to increase dramatically in the next five to ten years according to the Office of National AIDS Policy).
One-fourth (25%) of all new HIV infections in the U.S. is an individual between the ages of 13 and 20.
Federal health agencies estimate that teenagers make up about 20% of the HIV-infected population.
AIDS is the sixth leading cause of death among persons aged 15 to 24.
60% of new HIV infections in women now occur during their adolescent years.
More than 500,000 people in the United States under the age of 29 are HIV-infected.
34% of all heterosexual adults with AIDS were infected as teenagers.
85% of adolescent females contracted HIV infection through heterosexual intercourse.
COLLEGE STUDENTS AND AIDSTwo out of every 1,000 college students are HIV-infected. Therefore, with 12,5 million students enrolled in American colleges and universities, the rate of 2 in 1,000 means there are about 25,000 HIV-infected college students today.
WOMEN AND AIDS
According to the World Health Organization, a woman may be ten times more likely to get infected with HIV from a man than a man is from a women. Why? Because women are biologically more vulnerable to HIV infection than men due to the fact that there is a higher concentration of HIV in semen than there is in vaginal and cervical fluids. Furthermore, the vaginal area has a much larger area for exposure to HIV than the penis does, and during the act of sexual intercourse, the vagina often suffers microscopic abrasions causing certain immune system cells (lymphocytes) to be drawn to the area which in turn makes vaginal tissue more susceptible to HIV-infected semen. Normally, abrasions do not occur within the male urethra. (Gerald J. Stine, AIDS UPDATE 1999, pp. 331 & 337.)Because of the vulnerability to HIV-infection mentioned above, it is not too surprising that of the total reported cases of HIV infections acquired through heterosexual contact in the United States, 65% are women. Tragically, AIDS is currently the leading cause of death among women of child-bearing age in the United States and worldwide, every minute of every day, every day of the year, four women become infected with HIV, and every minute between one and two women die from AIDS in the world. Finally, beginning in 1997, about 50% of all new HIV infections in the world occur in women.
INFECTIONS AMONG HETEROSEXUALSThe World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that up to 90% of all HIV infections worldwide will be transmitted through heterosexual relationships.
INFECTIONS AMONG GAYS
Fifty-nine percent (59%) of all reported AIDS cases are the direct result of sex between men, and the chief of the retrovirology laboratory at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Dr. Robert Redfield, reports that 50 percent of male homosexuals in San Francisco are now infected with the HIV virus.
As stated above, AIDS is currently the leading cause of death among women of child-bearing age in the United States (Washington Post--Health, March 19, 1996, p. 5.), and every minute between one and two women die from AIDS in the world. Therefore, it is obvious that a growing number of children are being orphaned by AIDS, and experts project that unless the current trend shifts dramatically, about 144,000 children and young adults will have lost their mothers to AIDS by the beginning of the 21st century. (Washington Post--Health, March 19, 1996, p. 5 and
AIDS IN THE UNITED STATES
Though some people in the United States do not believe HIV infection and AIDS are serious problems in this country, the following facts reveal the reality of the effect HIV and AIDS are having upon this nation:
In the United States, for 1996, about 175 people a day were diagnosed with AIDS and between 120 and 200 a day become HIV-infected. Every 13 minutes, one person dies of AIDS in the United States. 50% of all new HIV infections in the U.S. are in people under 25 years of age.
The estimated number of HIV-infected persons in the United States is 1,200,000. ("The Global Epidemic", TIME, December 30, 1996-January 6, 1997,
AIDS IN THE WORLD
More than 51 million people worldwide are now living with the AIDS virus. (Gerald J. Stine, AIDS UPDATE 1999, 16,000 new victims are infected every day. (The United Nations reports previous figures underestimated how widespread HIV-infection was by one-third.)
One in every 100 sexually active adults worldwide is infected with HIV.
Nine out of ten (90%) of HIV-infected people do NOT know it!
The epidemic has struck youth the hardest because most of HIV-infected individuals are under 25 years old. (Christopher Burns, "AIDS More Widespread Than Thought", (UNAIDS Report), The Associated Press, Nov. 26, 1997.)
Nearly half of those who died of AIDS in 1997 were women. (Christopher Burns, "AIDS More Widespread Than Thought", (UNAIDS Report), The Associated Press, Nov. 26, 1997.)
In 1997, 460,000 children under 15 died of AIDS. (Christopher Burns, "AIDS More Widespread Than Thought", (UNAIDS Report), The Associated Press, Nov. 26, 1997.)
Worldwide in 1996, every second six people became infected with HIV and every second three people died of AIDS! ("The Global Epidemic", TIME, December 30, 1996-January 6, 1997, p. 78).
Worldwide, beginning in 1999, of the 51 million people infected with HIV, 24.7 million have AIDS.
75% of HIV transmission worldwide is associated with vaginal intercourse.
The only way a person can know for sure whether or not he or she is HIV- infected is to have what is commonly called an "AIDS test". In actuality, the test does not determine who has AIDS, but who is infected with the AIDS virus, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
The more common test is called the enzyme linked immunosorbent assay or ELISA (el-i-sa). The test reveals whether a person has been exposed to HIV by detecting the presence of HIV antibodies, an indication that infection has begun.
How is the test performed? A sample of blood is taken from the arm and analyzed in a laboratory. If the first ELISA test is positive (which indicates the person is HIV-infected), a second ELISA test on the same blood sample is done. If the second test is positive, another test, called Western blot, is run to confirm the earlier results of the ELISA tests.
What does an "HIV-positive" test mean? It suggests that the person has HIV antibodies thus indicating the individual has been infected with the virus. However, it may take one to six months before a person gets an accurate AIDS test. An "HIV-negative" test means the tests did not reveal the presence of any HIV-antibodies. But there is such a thing as a "false negative", which simply means the person is infected, yet it is too early for it to show up in an AIDS tests. Individuals who think they might have been exposed to HIV should make sure they get tested at least six months after they feel they might have gotten infected. Studies have shown that 50% of HIV-infected persons show measurable HIV antibodies by 3 months after infection and 90% do by 6 months. A very small percentage of infected individuals may not get accurate tests for one year or more.
The first home HIV test, developed by a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, Direct Access Diagnostics, was approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) on May 14, 1996. Using the $ 40 test involves sending a dried blood sample to a certified laboratory for HIV antibody testing and calling for their results, identified by a number, a week later. If the test is negative, the caller hears a recorded message and has the option of speaking to a counselor. If the results are positive or inconclusive, the caller is connected to a counselor who can provide referrals to doctors.(NOTE: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only 14 percent of people voluntarily tested received any counseling afterward and more than 60% of Americans at risk for HIV have NOT been tested.
WHAT ABOUT "USING PROTECTION" - CONDOMS?
When AIDS began to become known throughout the world in 1981, many people started promoting the use of condoms as a means of helping to reduce the risk of infection. Much of the literature concerning HIV and AIDS encourages people to "use protection", i.e., condoms. Emphasis on condom use might lead some to conclude that as long as condoms are used during sexual activity, it is almost impossible to become infected. But how effective are condoms in preventing HIV infection anyway?As you probably know, condoms are thin, protective tubes, generally made of latex, which are worn over the penis during sexual activity. Condoms are not only used in an effort to prevent HIV infection, but also to help prevent unplanned pregnancies and the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases such as genital herpes, gonorrhea, chlamydia, human papilloma virus, and syphilis.However, as the information below reveals, condoms may provide some protection against HIV infection, but there has never been any research which indicates that condoms ever work 100% of the time. Therefore, there is no such thing as "safe sex". Any kind of sexual relationship with someone who might be infected with the AIDS virus (HIV) is potentially dangerous even if a condom is used. The only 100% "safe sex" is abstinence - choosing to wait until marriage to have sex.Below is a list of research information regarding condom use and HIV infection. As you can see, there is no evidence that condoms will work all of the time. Therefore, every sexual relationship could lead to HIV infection and ultimately lead to someone's death. Why? Because most people infected with the AIDS virus do not know it (90%), and that HIV-infected person may be the one with whom you are having sex.
An issue of Social Science and Medicine reported that Dr. Susan Weller of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston analyzed 11 U.S. HIV studies to gauge condom effectiveness. From her research, Dr. Weller estimated that condoms are "only 69 percent effective in preventing heterosexual HIV transmission". This means the failure rate is approximately 31% or 1 out of 3."(Caught!", FOCUS ON THE FAMILY CITIZEN, April 18, 1994, p. 3.)
Nearly 1 in 3 will contract AIDS from infected partners with 100% condom use.(Dr. Margaret A. Fischl, Journal of the American Medicine Association, February 1987.)
A study carried out in Florida of heterosexual couples showed that 30% had become infected with HIV from their spouse even though they knew their partners were HIV-positive and they conscientiously used condoms.(Flechl M.A. et al., "Heterosexual transmission of HIV, relationship of sexual practices to zero conversion," III International AIDS Conference, Washington, D.C., 1987.)
A workshop sponsored by several U.S. government agencies concluded that some research indicates the failure rate of condoms in preventing HIV infection was approximately 15% when used during vaginal intercourse. In other words, 1 out of 6 failed to prevent HIV infection during this particular type of heterosexual behavior.("Workshop Summary: Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness for Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Prevention." July 20, 2001. Available at: www.niaid.nih. gov/dmid/stds/condomreport.pdf.)
The Department of Health and Human Services released a report stating "there are no clinical data supporting the value of condoms in preventing HIV."(A. Parachini, "Condoms and AIDS: How Safe is 'Safe'?," Los Angeles Times, 18 August 1987.)
"We cannot tell people how much protection condoms give."(Dr. Malcolm Potts, one of the inventors of condoms lubricated with spermicides, and the president of Family Health International. "Condoms: Experts Fear False Sense of Security," The New York Times, August 18, 1987.)
"Health institutions have been telling people, 'for safe sex, use a condom.' Our point is that while the condom gives a measure of protection, there is no research to show the exact protection...If your life depends on how safe a particular brand of condom is, wouldn't you want to know its effectiveness?"
(Dr. Bruce Voeller, president of the Mariposa Foundation which specializes in the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
The AIDS virus is 450 times smaller than the sperm cell
"You just can't tell people it's all right to do whatever you want so long as you wear a condom. It's just too dangerous a disease to say that."(Dr. Harold Jaffe, Center for Disease Control Chief of Epidemiology, "Condoms: Experts Fear False Sense of Security,"