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AIDS and Alcohol

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services
(1992), there are two reasons to investigate connections between alcohol,
HIV infection, and AIDS: alcohol may have a negative effect on the immune
system, and alcohol may trigger high-risk sexual behavior.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is the cause of acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). HIV can be transmitted through sexual
relations with an infected individual, through exchange of infected blood
or blood products, or to a newborn from an HIV-positive mother.
HIV-infected persons may have the virus for many years before clinical
signs of disease appear. Eventually, HIV breaks down the body’s immune
system, mainly by damaging a class of white blood cells that are
As a result, people who have AIDS are in danger of developing lung
infections, brain abscesses, and a many other infections caused by
microorganisms that usually do not produce disease in healthy people.
People who have AIDS also are prone to cancers such as Kaposi’s sarcoma, a
skin cancer rarely seen in non-HIV-infected populations. The diagnosis of
AIDS depends in part on the presence of one or many of these infections and
Approximately one million Americans are infected with HIV. At least 40,000
new HIV infections are believed to occur among adults and adolescents, and
an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 new HIV infections are thought to occur among
Currently, approximately 8 to 10 million people worldwide are infected with
HIV. Of these, 50 percent are likely to develop AIDS within 10 years, and
90 percent may develop AIDS within 20 years of initial infection. The
prognosis for persons with AIDS is nota positive one: AIDS-associated
mortality may approach 85 percent within 5 years of diagnosis.
Many health and research professionals working on the AIDS research firmly
believe that alcohol plays a serious role in the world’s AIDS epidemic.
Althoug…

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