Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: June 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963978 | Print ISBN: 9781412909280 | Online ISBN: 9781412963978| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Thomas V. Merluzzi & Carolyn A. Heitzmann & Robert W. Clausen
In the early 1980s, an unusual collection of clinical entities appeared that were characterized by aggressive opportunistic infections and malignancies in otherwise healthy individuals. These individuals also demonstrated a severe compromise of immune defense mechanisms. The disease was universally fatal. This complex syndrome of signs and symptoms was labeled as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Within several years, the agent responsible for the disease (a single-strand RNA virus labeled human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV) was identified by several different research groups. The virus selectively infects a cell line in a person's immune defense mechanism (T-helper cells) that is critical for successful detection of infection, elimination of organisms causing certain infections, or removal of potential tumor cells. HIV, a spectrum disease, progresses in stages. First, shortly after infection, there are mild flu symptoms. This is followed by an asymptomatic phase, which may give rise to symptoms resulting from destruction of the immune ...