Life in the USA
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
The dread disease AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is in the news constantly. AIDS first began to cause public concern as a disease affecting mostly homosexuals and intravenous drug users. Though it has not spread to the heterosexual population to the extent many experts have feared, it is still a major issue. Fear of AIDS is often worse than the disease itself. Major court cases involving a doctor who contracted AIDS from an improperly handled hospital needle and a patient who contracted AIDS from her dentist have caused national attention.
The HIV Virus is believed to be the cause of AIDS; hence the term "HIV Positive," indicating that a person either has the disease or is likely to come down with it.
"AIDS Activists" is another term you will hear. It refers to political activists, many from the homosexual community, who call for better government AIDS research and for better access to experimental drugs to treat the disease. In the United States it can take many years of testing and trials before a new drug is approved for sale to the public. While this process is designed to protect the public from unexpected and dangerous drug side-effects, it has the unfortunate effect of depriving AIDS patients of possible life-saving medicines. Discrimination against people with AIDS is a major issue, highlighted by the case of Ryan White, a boy who contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion, who died at age 18 in 1990.
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