Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) (Encyclopedia of Psychology)
A progressive, degenerative disease involving several major organ systems, including the immune system and central nervous system. Uniformly fatal, it is associated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a viral infection that progressively weakens the immune system.
Since Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) manifests itself in a number of different diseases and conditions, it has been difficult to arrive at a formal definition. In an attempt to standardize the definition of AIDS, the Centers for Disease Control in 1992 included among its diagnostic criteria a count of 200 or fewer CD4T lymphocyte cells per cubic ml of blood (a sign of severe immune system suppression). AIDS was first recognized in 1981 as a cluster of symptoms in homosexual men in New York City and San Francisco. Eventually, similar symptoms were found among intravenous drug users, hemophiliacs, and other recipients of blood transfusions. In 1984, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was isolated and subsequently determined as the probable cause of AIDS.
HIV is transmitted through sexual intercourse, contact with infected blood and blood products, and the birth process. However, casual social contactven if close and prolongedas not been found to spread HIV. The greatest number of HIV cases are sexually transmitted, through both homosexual and...
(The entire section is 906 words.)
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