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Africa: HIV or AIDS

Apr 28, 2003

I know this might not be the correct forum for this question, but after reading many Q&A's on this site, I find you to be the best informed on the widest variety of HIV/AIDS topics.

When we hear about Africa having a whopping 10 of their workforce infected with HIV/AIDS, what exactly does this mean. Is this AIDS illness or is it confirmed HIV positive serostatus based on ELISA/EIA testing?

Do many in Africa test negative for the HIV antibody, but manifest AIDS illness? Do we consider these people to be HIV infected? Do we assume there strain is a variant strain not picked up by the tests?

If it is the case that some 10 of Africa's workforce is infected with this illness one way or another, I need to put something into perspective here. HIV is not a particularly easy virus to catch. 10 boarders on the frequency of EBV or CMV infection in the general western population. I know that lack of circumcision allows for heterosexual men to more easily contract the virus from women, but even so. Are Africans doing it like bunnies over there? I doubt we understand the whole story. In fact, I'm quite certain we understand only a fraction of the reason for HIV's astounding prevalence in Africa and other third world regions.

Do you honestly believe there isn't a very strange feeling to this whole situation? Some kind of missing link? Possibly putting our HIV tests and criteria for what constitutes AIDS illness into question?

Response from Dr. Holodniy

I am not sure when you say "10" what that refers to. In some African countries, as much as 30% of the adult population is HIV antibody positive. Because of the poor access to expensive HIV drugs many of these people will progress to AIDS and succumb from the illness.

antibody production
Full blown AIDS

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