Today I would like to inform you all about HIV, human immunodeficiency virus,
and AIDS, aquired immune deficiency syndrome. Statistics show that about 35% of

AIDS cases have been in the age group of 20-29. Now many of you may already know
that AIDS has a long period between infection with the virus and the appearance
of symptoms. Meaning that some of those people between the ages 20 and 29
probably contracted the virus when they were teenagers. Being that most of us in
this room fall near or in that age range, my goal today is to inform you of how
the virus is contracted, symptoms of this disease, and most importantly, the
best way to go about taking more precaution into preventing this fatal disease.

AIDS is preceded by HIV infection. HIV can only be transmitted three different
ways (refer to visual aid). (1) The first is through sexual contact. This is the
most common way HIV is contracted. It can be passed when an infected person has
vaginal or anal intercourse with another. (2) The second way this deadly virus
is transmitted is through the exchange of blood. This method of transmission is
now almost entirely limited to people who inject drugs and share needles. This
type of contact between an infected person and someone else is the second most
common way this virus is passed. HIV can also be contracted through blood
transfusions. Now blood transfusions are far safer now than they were in the
early years of the AIDS problem. (3) The third way is from mother to child.

Sadly, most children with HIV contracted it from their infected mothers during
pregnancy or childbirth. If the woman is infected, her child has a 50/50 chance
of being born with the virus. Once, or if, this virus is contracted through
these ways, the symptoms of the HIV infection may not appear for a long time
after the person gets infected. Initial symptoms of the HIV infection are
usually the same as those of minor illnesses like the cold or flu. The symptoms
are tiredness, swollen lymph glands, fever, loss of appetite and weight,
diarrhea, and night sweats. The presence of these may indicate an HIV infection.

Not being able to know right away if your illness is minor or major is just one
of the complications this virus carries. A person cannot determine themselves if
he or she has the infection. So if you think you might, the best thing to do is
to see a healthcare professional so that they can diagnose your condition. If a
person has contracted the virus, these symptoms tend to become more severe over
a period of time. Since AIDS is the last stage of a long period of HIV
infection, the number of AIDS cases is like the tip of a very large iceberg.
(refer to visual). Acute HIV infection progresses over time to asymptomatic HIV
infection and later to advanced HIV or full blown AIDS. So as you can see HIV
and AIDS are a fatal disease that can be easily contracted without much
precaution. (Refer to visual) The best ways to prevent and reduce the risks that
are related to sex are: (1) sexual fidelty. It is unlikely that a monogamous
couple will become infected with AIDS. (2) Practice safe sex. For example, the
proper use of condoms is one imperative way of preventing this virus from
entering one’s body. (3) Careful selection of partners. In other words, do not
have sex with just anybody. Make sure your partner has not had several sex
partners, does not use intravenous drugs, and make sure its not someone who has
had any sexually transmitted diseases. (4) Avoid multiple sex partners. Simple
as that, the more sex partners a person has, the greater the chance of getting
an HIV infection. And last but not least (5) sexual abstinence. This is the most
certain way of not contracting AIDS. This is also the healthiest choice of all
of the above. There are no worries of contracting any sexually transmitted
diseases and people who are abstinent usually have fewer problems than those who
get sexually involved too soon. Furthermore, the best way to prevent and reduce
risks related to drug abuse is to not use intravenous drugs. The prevention of

AIDS requires a lot of self discipline and strength of character. The
requirements often seem personally restrictive but are very effective and can
save your life. In conclusion, researchers have found that AIDS is the worst end
result of HIV. People with AIDS usually lead to death. Over 50% of persons
diagnosed with AIDS in the US have died. Unfortunately there is still no cure
for this disease and no one has completely recovered from AIDS. With this, I
would just like to remind you that the exchange of this disease, be it through
sexual contact, the exchange of blood, and the pregnancy and childbirth of an
infected mother, can be easily contracted through careless action and no
precaution. Also, the symptoms of this disease, if contracted, and its severity
can easily go unnoticed since they are almost the same symptoms as the cold or
flu. Therefore, prevention and taking more precaution by reducing risks related
to sex and drugs is the essential key to staying healthy and, most importantly,

HIV negative. Remember that making careful decisions and being cautious can save
your life.