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AIDS



AIDS
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.95

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    abstinence, encephalopathy, symptom-free, showing, swelling, breastfeeding, prenatal, unprotected, cocktail, suffering, prolong, resistance, inhibit, risky, reality, intervention
     content words:    United States, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome


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AIDS
By Jennifer Kenny
  

1     Do you know what the sixth leading cause of death is? In the United States, among 15 to 24 year olds, the answer is AIDS. The first case of AIDS was only medically documented in 1981. However, it was most likely around even before then. A lot of people have been infected in a relatively short amount of time. AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. Doctors tend to say that this is the final stage of the HIV infection.
 
2     HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, causes AIDS. It attacks white blood cells called lymphocytes. It infects and destroys them. These lymphocytes are called T helper cells or CD4 cells or T-cells. When the virus attacks these healthy cells, it makes copies of itself. As a result, the number of healthy T-cells drops off. The body's resistance lowers. The body can't fight off germs as well and becomes susceptible to diseases.
 
3     The process of weakening the body's immune system doesn't happen overnight. It can take years. Therefore, not everyone with HIV has AIDS. The path of being infected to actually showing symptoms can take a few months to up to 15 years, depending on how many lymphocytes are destroyed. When the people with HIV get very sick, they are said to have AIDS. They come down with life-threatening infections, cancers, or problems with the nervous system.
 
4     So how can a person become infected with HIV? A person must come in contact with the body fluids of an infected individual. This does NOT mean hugging, shaking hands, touching doorknobs, or sneezing. It is spread through direct contact with blood, unprotected sex, or sharing infected needles for drug use.

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