That Which Takes Away Forever—AIDS

   What once use to be an occupational bonus in the business, has now become an occupational hazard. Though the summer of love is in its full swing, the only sex worth having, if having at all, is safe sex during any season.

   In the U.S. there are now approximately 1.1 million or more HIV-infected persons and over 400,000 AIDS cases. In the 14th century, the Black Death killed 25 million people, while there are projected to be 30 to 110 million HIV cases world wide by the year 2000. AIDS does not stand for Asphalt Instant Death Syndrome, (though the out come is still the same—Death); Antibody Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

   The HIV virus reproduces unchecked by invading cells. Next there is a long asymptomatic (without symptoms), period, from a couple of months to 16 years or longer, but averaging about 8 years.

   This asymptomatic period goes on for a long time before testing positive for antibodies in the human body. This is a period of massive unchecked infection. Eventually there are detectable antibodies (that make tests show positive) that can at least kill some of the HIV in the bloodstream. Then the full blown AIDS develops, which happens when the blood count of T cells (immune system cells that fight invaders) reduces to about 200 per cubic millimeter of blood and symptoms appear.

   Early symptoms when AIDS arrive can include unexplained symptoms such as skin rashes, warts, oral candidiosis or thrush, shingles, menstrual problems or early onset of one of the opportunistic diseases such as: Pneumoncystic carinii pneumonia, T.B.

   After suspected exposure to the disease, typically a blood test is given within about 1 week to establish baselines, then after 6 weeks, then perhaps 3 months and 6 months and a year. If the most common antibody test is used, results come back a few days after each test. But positive antibody results may not show up for months after true exposure and infections that may be raging before the body learns how to make detectable antibodies.

   Prevention comes from blocking transmission routes. This means, 1. Avoiding sexual transmission by promoting abstinence, monogamy, use of latex condoms, dental damns and devices to block transmucosal membrane transmission. 2. Protecting the transfusion blood supply by screening and testing. 3. Inducing safe needle use in addicts such as through free distribution of clean needles and by education.

   Rich or Poor, Male or Female, Young or Old, Black or White these are the players of the Game of Life. AIDS and HIV does not discriminate.

   In the United States, AIDS and HIV, were thought to be just a homosexual disease. NOT. Not only does the heterosexual group remain at high risk, but AIDS is attacking sexually active non-monogamous groups like college communities, youths, and in fact the entire community!

   Until there are effective treatments or preventions by vaccines, AIDS is a sure fire killer. It is raging across the continents of the world, decimating many African countries. HIV and AIDS respects no borders!

   Being ambassadors of the Canyon taking ethically and culturally diverse groups down the River, one should have total awareness of the grave dangers inherent in the problems of having way to much fun.

   There are no easy answers to this dilemma of reality. Only one of common sense, if that can be considered in the scope of lost consciousness in the heat of the moment.

   The decisions you make shall determine your destiny. To thy own self be true.