MPH and MD Bisola O. Ojikutu, works with AIDS patients. He goes to places in Africa where the HIV rate is the highest in the world, specifically KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa.
In 1981, Ojikutu noticed patterns of patients in Los Angeles with peculiar symptoms such as diarrhea, rashes, coughing, swollen lymph nodes, fevers, and severe weight loss. After a long time of not recognizing this serious infection, doctors finally labeled it as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP). The infection was not just in St. Louis but also other places around the country. PCP can be treated using an uncommon medication called Pentamidine, so as the disease spread, the usage of the medication expanded. A correlation was also found between many homosexual men who has Candidiasis and Cytomegalovirus (CMV). Additionally, an eruption of Kaposi’s sarcoma occured in the 1980’s. This outbreak of these incredibly rare and potentially fatal viruses intrigued scientists.
This outbreak of viruses was labeled Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome in 1982. Being a new virus, there were very few ways to diagnose it, so, it was categorized by having Kaposi’s sarcoma, random and uncommon infections. Also AIDS patients had noticeably less helper-T cells in their blood. The CDC, being curious as to how the virus was contracted, questioned tons of people about their sex lives.
They found that a high number of homosexual men were carrying the virus. After a long process of contact tracing, scientists were eventually able to locate where the virus originally started. This patient was extremely sexually active, however, not all of his partners were tracable because many were undocumented. A correlation was found between the partners who were traceable: they all had opportunistic infections that were traceable as well.
During the end of the 20th century, not only did the virus spread country wide, but so did a negative shaming for those who had it. Tons of theories hypothesized causes for the virus and explanations as to why it spread so quickly. A common theory concluded that helper-T cells within the human body are expended by lymph nodes. After testing on this theory using cultured viruses extracted from lymph nodes, scientists were able to conclude that a single virus, HIV was the cause.
Now that scientists discovered a pathogen, HIV, they were able to develop diagnostic tests that were specified for this virus. The immune system, however, was still at question for AIDS patients. Scientists predicted that HIV can be contracted easiest in people with too few antibodies to kill this virus. Now, that the disease has been identified and characterized, it is easier than ever to diagnose and gain knowledge about. Finally, Ojikutu concludes by explaining that although HIV is caused by immune dysfunction, ‘it is really more an issue of barriers and access to care.”