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AIDS The Quiet Rise in America English 112-78 101101 For an epidemic that has exploded around the world and is claiming thousands of lives everyday AIDS acquired immunodeficiency syndrome surfaced very quietly in the United States On June 4 1981 a weekly newsletter published by the Center for Disease Control CDC in Atlanta reported five unusual cases of pneumonia that had been diagnosed in Los Angeles residents over the previous few months All the patients were homosexual males who had come down with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia a rare lung infection usually found only in severely malnourished individuals that had been undergoing intensive chemotherapy Before getting ill all five men were well nourished and considered to be very healthy with strong immune systems Odets 20-23 Within the year similar cases were reported from all over the country Adults that seemed perfectly healthy were suddenly coming down with rare infections and malignancies Most cases were reported in New York City California Florida and Texas but unlike the men in the Los Angeles cases not all were homosexual males Many were people who used intravenous drugs men with hemophilia and immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean All of these people had one thing in common they had a major absence in the number of white blood cells in their bodies Odets 67 These cells commonly referred to as t-cells help keep the immune system functioning properly Because of the lack of t-cells the patients immune systems became very weak which left them vulnerable to one health problem after another It was not until 1984 that it was concluded that the human immunodeficiency virus commonly referred to as HIV was to blame for this mysterious syndrome Many people use the terms HIV and AIDS interchangeably which is not exactly accurate AIDS is defined as the most advanced stages of HIV infection Russel 86 It was discovered in the mid-eighties
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