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AIDS Therapies and Vaccines

Aids Treatment, Vaccine Development

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a disease characterized by the destruction of the immune system. More than 16,000 new AIDS patients are diagnosed each day. Evidence overwhelmingly supports the view that AIDS is caused by several types of a virus designated as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

The immune system is the principle defense system of the body to a variety of infections. Thus, individuals diagnosed with AIDS are prone to illness and, in many cases, eventual death from microbiological illnesses, organ failures, or cancer.

AIDS was recognized in the early 1980s. Soon thereafter came the discovery of the various types of HIV and their association with AIDS. Since then, scientists and researchers around the world have spent billions of dollars and thousands of hours to discover how AIDS is caused and what options are available to stop the progression of the disease.

Once the scientific community became mobilized to fight AIDS, international conferences were held in the mid-1980s. Exchange of data on AIDS and HIV led to the development of blood tests to detect the virus or its genetic material, and to diagnose the infection. Only then did the severity of the illness and the extent of the worldwide epidemic become known.

By the late 1980s, treatments for the virus became available, and so treatment of infections that prey on the severely weakened immune systems of those with AIDS could be managed to some extent. The death toll internationally was still extremely high, and remained so until the mid-1990s when the research collectively began to identify the best range of treatments for the 11 or more strains of HIV.

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