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Print AIDS Reading Comprehension

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

     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

By Jennifer Kenny

1     The first case of AIDS was medically documented in 1981. However, the virus causing AIDS was most likely around 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, 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 to infection is lowered. 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 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 exchange body fluids with an infected individual. This does NOT mean hugging, shaking hands, touching doorknobs, or sneezing. It is spread by having unprotected sex or by direct contact with blood, such as sharing infected needles for drug use.

Paragraphs 5 to 14:
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