HIV/AIDS: Using Technology to Mitigate the Global Pandemic

It is difficult to describe the scale of tragedy which HIV and AIDS have brought to the world. What is particularly heart wrenching is that 72% of AID’s related deaths are in Africa, while this continent has 14.5% of the world’s population. Such dominating incidence and precedence in third world instead of first world countries means that there are technological measures which would mitigate, but not fully eliminate, the disease and its effects. Vertical Transmission of HIV (mother to child) is almost non-existent in developed countries, but is a consistent problem in Nigeria, for example.

A technology addressing the issue of Vertical Transmission is Vitalwave™, a technology that shows significant promise by decolonizing the birth canal and reducing the incidence of transmission of HIV and other pathogens (STI). The new technology will be explained along with descriptions of the biological mechanisms of HIV.

Essentially, HIV/AIDS refers to a two fold disorder involving a virus (human immunodeficiency virus infection, HIV) and the manifestation and clinical symptoms in the body. The process in it’s entirety is subdivided into three general stages; Acute infection, clinical latency, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Prevalence of HIV/AIDs in Africa

The first stage, usually occurring one to two weeks after acquiring HIV, consists of various influenza-like symptoms, but may also include the development of opportunistic infections. Opportunistic infections take place in humans with compromised immune systems and would not normally affect healthy individuals. These early symptoms are general and are not directly indicative of HIV or AIDS.

The second stage of development is known as Clinical Latency, which, as the name implies, denotes an asymptomatic phase of progression. Here, the patient carries the virus but its symptoms are not expressed outright. Instead, near the end of this stage people may experience fever, weight loss, gastrointestinal problems, and muscle pains.

In the absence of specific treatment, roughly half of those with HIV will develop into the third stage, AIDS. There are many symptoms that indicate the presence of AIDS, but the most common are pneumonia, cachexia (loss of weight and muscle atrophy) and recurring respiratory tract infections. Opportunistic infections may develop from bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites that would normally be prevented by a more functional immune system. People with AIDS are highly susceptible to cancers, fevers, swollen lymph nodes, and various other diseases. Diseases acquired are dependent greatly on environmental factors such as which bacteria and pathogens are prevalent.

Proportional Development of HIV/AIDs in Africa

A difficult problem to address with HIV/AIDS is how to treat individuals in third world countries. The spread of this disease can certainly be mitigated with the use of several practices and protocols. One such practice is consistent condom use, which could reduce the risk of sexual HIV transmission by approximately 80% over the long term. Programs to prevent the vertical transmission of HIV (from mothers to children) can reduce rates of transmission by 92-99%. This is conventionally done with antiviral medications that target specific viruses (similar to how antibiotics target bacteria) during pregnancy and after birth. There is another method of treating vertical transmission of HIV called Vitalwave™, which has been developed to the prototype stage and shows significant promise. It works on the principle of photodisinfection, and has no systemic effects to the mother or drug interactions with prescribed antiretroviral therapy. It may also block the transmission of other pathogens, such as Group B Streptococcus, HSV, HCV, and other STI’s.

The Global Fund (an international financing organization that targets AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria) recently released 25 million dollars to 12 states and the Federal Capital Territory to develop treatments of mother to child transmission of HIV. This kind of support shows that Mother to Child Transmission is a vital area to address in the global initiative of fighting AIDS. Vitalwave is part of this initiative, and as the world starts implementing these technologies and continues financial and technological aid, the global pandemic will see life saving and world changing improvements.

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