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TOWARDS NEW SCIENTIFIC AND MEDICAL FRONTIERS

Aggiornato il: 29 mar 2019

This article aims to support the medical-scientific research related to health, as linked to ethics, too. We should become more and more aware of the importance of medical studies in preventing serious diseases which, still today, affect younger generations, in particular HIV.



Scientists and researchers have been studying the HIV virus and Aids since the 1980s and we now know a lot about them. However HIV mutates very quickly and there are various strains of the virus making scientific advances in the field very difficult. In this article we will discuss in more details the way HIV is transmitted, prevented and develops into Aids and the advances towards preventative measures such as vaccines and microbicides.



HIV is the virus that causes Aids. It damages the immune system, making it easier for people to get sick. HIV spreads during sex, therefore condoms are effective measures of protection. HIV stands for “human immunodeficiency virus”. It is a virus that breaks down certain cells in the immune system (a system that defends the human body against diseases, helping people to stay healthy). When HIV damages the immune system, it is easier to get really sick and even die from infections that our body could normally fight off.

HIV can affect anybody: about 1 million people in the USA are leaving with the virus and more than 41000 new infections spread every year. People who get ill can have no symptoms for many years and feel totally fine. The virus remains inside the body for life. There are no cures for HIV, but treatments can help people stay healthy for a longer period of time, by lowering the chances of the virus to spread inside the body.


Law Prosecution


Criminal transmission of HIV is the international or reckless infection of a person with human immunodeficiency virus. Some American countries or jurisdictions have enacted laws to criminalize HIV transmission or exposure, charging those accused of criminal transmission of HIV. Other countries in the UK charge the accused under existing laws with such crimes as murder, fraud and attempted murders. The laws of all the nations that have signed the European Convention of Human Rights criminalize and prosecute the individuals who infect others with HIV.


In the UK, transmission may generally fall under sections of the offences against the Person Act 1861, a British Parliamentary Act which consolidated provisions related to offences against the person (an expression which includes offences of violence) from a number of earlier statutes into a single act.



Under the criminal law, the individuals affected by HIV are prosecuted if they have intentionally transmitted the virus to their partners without informing them of their condition.




Risks


In most cases, people get and transmit HIV through unprotected sexual behaviours and needles (for example using infected syringes). Only certain fluids, like blood, seminal, rectal and vaginal fluids and breast milk, can transmit the virus. The infection is caused by the contact between contaminated fluids and a mucous membrane or damaged tissues or even by the infection into the bloodstream from a needle or a syringe. For these reasons contracting HIV is really common between people who share the equipment used to prepare drugs for the injection. However contracting HIV does not mean that the person is an AIDS-sufferer, so it is important to differentiate HIV from AIDS. HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system. If HIV is left untreated, a person’s immune system will get weaker and weaker until it can no longer fight off life-threatening infections and diseases.



AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) describes a set of symptoms and illnesses that happen at the final stage of HIV infection, when left undertreated. A person is said to have AIDS when his/her immune system is too weak to struggle with infections and develop certain defending symptoms.




Prevention systems


HIV is an incurable disease, but there are lots of ways to prevent or reduce the risk of infection. An important prevention is mainly based on the use of condoms: both male and female condoms are available. They come in a lot of different colours, textures, materials and flavours. They are the most effective form of protection against HIV. If someone is affected by the virus, he/she must get an effective treatment to reduce the viral load to undetectable levels. This means that the level of HIV virus in the blood is so low that it cannot be detected by tests. It is also important not to share needles, syringes, the actual drugs or liquids used to dilute them. In fact, if you make use of drugs, this could expose you to HIV and other viruses found in the blood. Even if you are having a tattoo or a piercing, the use of a sterilized needle becomes necessary.


By Asia Fuschini

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