It is generally agreed that AIDS is caused by the HIV (human immunodeficiency) virus and not by bacteria. But the precise reason is still unclear and very much in dispute. The issue is still hotly debated. The current conclusion is based on circumstantial evidence rather than proven facts.
The early stages of HIV infection are similar to that of other viruses. With the rapid proliferation of HIV, initial symptoms are a mild illness similar to flu. No observable damage is caused to the immune system despite the viral presence in large quantities. At this point of the infection the body's immune system kicks in hastily reducing the virus to an almost insignificant degree. The primary infection is completed once this happens. Years later the HIV may destroy the human immune system. Typically very few of the immune system's T-cells are infected.
Years earlier it was believed the damage done by the virus was by directly infecting and killing cells.
The category of virus in which HIV belongs is called retroviruses. These are similar to other viruses in so far as they can replicate only inside other cells. HIV is also known as a slow virus. It is so called because of the inordinate length of time between initial infection and the appearance of the symptoms of the disease.
HIV is spread by contact and sexual intercourse with an infected partner. HIV is also transmitted by contact with infected blood. This is the consequence of shared HIV contaminated needles or syringes. In the US contamination by blood transfusion is relatively rare because of stringent regulations in screening of blood products. However HIV is also contracted by children of infected mothers before and during birth.
Despite the raging controversy about the cause of AIDS, it can safely be concluded that bacteria as a source is ruled out.
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