Ailments and diseasesCAPTION: Chickens in a cage are offered for sale in a bird flu-affected region.
Although we have been treating diseases for thousands of years now, we still have a long way to go. As of today, there are still diseases that can be surpressed but not cured. One example is the "acquired immunodeficiency syndrome" (AIDS). Discovered in 1980s, this disease is still under close observation today, with millions of AIDS and HIV patients. The influenza is threatening China, Indonesia and other parts of the world is the "avian flu". First started in Hong Kong, this virus has spread to many other countries. Cancer is a disease that we have founght again and again. The most infamous type of cancer, the number killer of Americans and perhaps the world, is lung cancer. Another problematic disease is diabetes. Fortunately, scientists who have studied diabete have discovered a solution. Hopefully, as new diseases surface, more solutions will be invented.
The avian flu, also known as bird flu, is a infectious virus that affects mostly birds. There are about a hundred different varieties of this virus. The way humans catch this kind of virus is to be in contact with the bird’s secretions. It was first originated from Hong Kong in 1997. During that period, the decline of ducks, geese, and chickens rose up to one and a half million. In 2003, the Avian Flu re-emerged in Korea and spread to other countries. At first, the disease only affected birds, but after several seasons of the flu, humans were able to catch the virus.
HIV and AIDS
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), by destroying T cells (white blood cells), which fight disease and work with the immune system. A person may live with HIV for years before developing AIDS, which causes a weakened immune system that makes it difficult for one's body to fight infections and diseases. HIV most likely spread from chimpanzees in Africa to humans when humans came in contact with infected blood or bushmeat. HIV is transmitted mostly in three ways: (1) through having sex with an HIV-positive person, (2) sharing needles with an HIV-positive person, (3) being exposed to HIV before birth or during breastfeeding.
HIV is treated with one of many antiretroviral drugs, which include those that inhibit conversion of HIV RNA into HIV DNA, those that interfere with multiplication of viral particles, and those that prevent HIV virus' entry into host cells. Desptite the many drugs available to treat HIV/AIDS, there is no drug that can cure HIV or AIDS. A major issue is that the HIV virus becomes resistant to antiretroviral drugs, which has led pharmaceutical companies to create more potent drugs.
In the United States, 74% of HIV/AIDS diagnoses occurs among men, while 26% occur among women. Blacks account for 49% of HIV/AIDS diagnoses, while whites account for 31%. In 2005, 16,316 people died of AIDS, while 425,910 people live with AIDS today.
HIV is one of the world's most severe pandemics, occurring in all continents (especially Africa, Latin America, and Asia), particularly in countries with little economic development. Because of its highly devastating nature, the disease has been dubbed the "plague of the 21st century" and measures, including policy-making and prevention measures have been taken worldwide to combat the disease.
According to the World Health Organization, 39.5 million live with HIV/AIDS, and 6% are children under the age of 15. 2.9 million died from AIDS in 2005, and another 4.3 million were infected. Approximately 1% of adults have HIV/AIDS worldwide. HIV adult prevalence rates per region in 2006 are as follows:
- Sub-Saharan Africa - 5.9%
- Middle East and North Africa - 0.2%
- South and Southeast Asia - 0.6%
- East Asia - 0.1%
- Oceania - 0.4%
- Latin America - 0.5%
- Caribbean - 1.2%
- Eastern Europe and Central Asia - 0.9%
- Western and Central Europe - 0.3%
- North America - 0.8%
Cancer, also known as malignant tumors or neoplasms, refers to one of more than 100 diseases that afflicts any part of the body. Cancerous cells are abnormal cells that rapidly divide and migrate to other parts of the body in a process called metastasis, which is a major cause of cancer deaths. Benign tumors are those that are non-cancerous and do not damage surrounding cells. Malignant tumors spread throughout the body through cell division and the tumor's size can damage surrounding organs and disrupt function.
Cancer can be treated on one of three ways. Surgery, which removes the tumor, is one alternative that depends on whether the cancerous growth is near vital organs. Another approach is using radiotherapy or chemotherapy. A biopsy, which is taking a small sample of the cancer for analysis, is used for diagnosis and for finding the proper treatment.
Cancer is the cause of 13% (about 7.6 million people) of deaths worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, the leading deaths are from cancers of the:
- Lung - 1.3 million deaths per year
- Stomach - 1 million deaths per year
- Liver - 662,000 deaths per year
- Colon - 655,000 deaths per year
- Breast - 502,000 deaths per year
Unfortunately, over 40% of cancer can be prevented through changes in dietary and lifestyle habits and early detection. However, aging also plays a role in development of cancer.
Diabetes mellitus is separated into 3 categories, type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes. All of the various types of diabetes have the same signs, symptoms, and consequences. However, they differ in causes and demographics. Type 1 diabetes is caused by the pancreas’ inability to produce insulin. Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance from various tissues. Gestational diabetes, similar to type 2 diabetes occurs during pregnancy. Diabetes left untreated may lead to serious complications which include, but are not limited to blindness, nerve damage, and microvascular damage. Diabetic treatment includes a managed diet, exercise and the use of various oral diabetic drugs for type 2 diabetes or the use of insulin for type 1 diabetes.
Dr. Fredrick Banting, a scientist that co-invented this medical breakthrough in 1934 along with his fellow student, Charles Best. Insulin is a protein or glucose that is injected in a diabetics’ bloodstream. Many types of diabetes are treated with insulin. The rates of diabetic deaths are decreased with the help of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas. However, some individuals are not able to produce insulin; therefore it is provided for them.
180 million people worldwide have diabetes and over 1.1 million died from diabetes in 2005. 80% of deaths occur in low and middle-income countries, and 55% of deaths occur among women. People with diabetes are twice as likely to die than healthy people. Diabetes leads to a plethora of diseases if left untreated, including:
- Blindness (Diabetic retinopathy) - 2% become completely blind, while 10% become severely visually impaired
- Neural problems (Diabetic neuropathy) - 50% develop these problems
- Kidney failure - 10 to 20% die of diabetes patients die of kidney failure
- Heart disease and stroke - 50% of diabetes patients die of the aforementioned diseases
- Breast - 502,000 deaths per year.