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HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) and AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) destroys the immune system of its host. At one time, it was thought that a person could be infected through casual contact, similar to the way that the flu virus spreads. It has been proven, however, that one cannot contract the HIV/AIDS virus in this way. At this time, HIV/AIDS has no cure, but scientists and the medical community have identified the methods of transmission as guidelines for prevention. The exchange of bodily fluids with a person who is infected can transmit the virus, including blood, semen, and breast milk. There are several reasons to argue against the isolation of those living with this disease.
1) Federal laws protect the rights of those infected with HIV/AIDS. Sufferers are protected from discrimination as is the case with other disabling illnesses. Medical records are confidential, so in order to ostracize those infected with the virus, these records would have to be available to some segment of the public.
2) The virus can lie dormant for many years, so the purposeful ostracizing of those individuals who are infected would have to include regular, repetitive testing in order to make sure that all infected individuals are included. This would require a daunting expenditure of not only financial resources but also of manpower - resources that could better be used in finding a cure.
3) Countless people infected with the virus have not contracted the disease because of participation in behaviors considered risk factors. Children have been born to infected mothers - their status cannot be attributed to any "fault" of their own. Though relatively rare, health care workers have become infected by means of job related hazards. Again, these unfortunate individuals have no behavioral risks to blame. Also to consider are the cases of individuals who believed themselves to be in a monogamous relationship. Their philandering partners contract the disease through promiscuous behavior and pass it on to their unsuspecting spouses or partners, again through no "fault" of their own, thus undeserving of exclusion from society.
4) Of those who have become infected with HIV/AIDS because of engaging in behaviors that have been called risks, many of these behaviors carry an equal risk of a multitude of other diseases. Countless sexually transmitted diseases run rampant when engaging in unprotected sexual encounters, and sharing of intravenous needles has the potential to transmit Hepatitis as well as HIV/AIDS. People who contract Hepatitis or Chlamydia aren't subject to discrimination and exclusion because of the limited, controlled methods of transmission, and because the field of medical science has identified similar means of transmission and prevention, we have no more to fear (provided we practice preventative measures) from those infected with HIV/AIDS.
If the goal of ostracizing these unfortunate individuals is to limit the spread of HIV/AIDS, that goal can be accomplished through comprehensive education concerning what the scientific community already knows about prevention and transmission.
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