Diseases

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Among the current fields of research in Biotechnology, research on drugs and vaccines targeting viral diseases such as HIV/AIDs has been of major importance given the high prevalence of these diseases across the world. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a type of virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune-deficiency Syndrome) (HIV and AIDS, n.d). The virus devastates the body’s defense mechanism, leaving a victim highly susceptible to opportunistic infections such as those caused by bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. AIDS epidemic has presented a major challenge among researchers given the high rates of mutation and replication of HIV in host cells (ABU, DEAN, &ump; JEFF, 2010). In addition, limited access to antiretroviral drugs in some of the most affected regions such as the Sub-Saharan Africa has slowed down the fight against the epidemic. AIDS is associated with other devastating diseases such as Kaposi Sarcoma and liver diseases which calls for more research efforts to find an effective vaccine. Apart from the increasing cases of HIV infection through sexual intercourse and drug injecting paraphernalia, mother-to-child transmission has also been cited as a major culprit (Majid, 2010). Despite a wide range of challenges facing the faculty of drug and vaccine development, considerable progress has been made. This paper presents the major challenges facing the area of viral disease research and specifically HIV/AIDS. It incorporates this discussion with a literature review of the research efforts that have been made towards tackling the challenges. It is almost three decades since HIV and AIDS was discovered and the lives of millions of people have been claimed by the pandemic. At the same time, the pandemic has had a deleterious impact on the health patterns in the world as it has changed the progression patterns of various diseases (Gould &ump; Woods, 2003). According to Eilbert (2008), more than 20 million people have succumbed to HIV and AIDS since it was discovered back in 1981. Eilbert also asserts that the pandemic is leading in terms of causing many deaths with the most affected being people aged between 15 and 59 years (2008). The number of infected people across the world stands at 40 million with about 67% of this population living in the sub-Saharan Africa. In Botswana for example, the infection rate among the adult population is 37%. In the United States, the current level of HIV infection is about 1 million and more than 0.5 million people have died from the disease (Eilbert, 2008). The rate of HIV infection among children has also escalated especially in developing countries. Research has associated this increase with the rise in the number of women who have attained childbearing age but who are HIV-infected (Claudia, 2001). However, considerable steps have been made to reduce cases of mother to child transmission both during birth and breastfeeding. According to Rivera (2011), transfusion of infected blood products was one of the ways through which children got infected with HIV before 1985. However, due to intensive research on screening methods, this means of transmission of the virus has been eliminated (Rivera, 2011). Nevertheless, vertical transmission of HIV remains a major problem as indicated by the World Health Organization data. Rivera notes that the 2009 WHO report estimated the number of children living with HIV to be 2.5 million. During the same year, cases of new infection were 370, 000 (2011). Though this is a big number, records depict a drop of 24% from the 2004 data. This is an indication of efforts that have been made to reduce new cases of vertical infection (Bennett, 2011). Through research, Bennett (2011) notes that two strains of HIV that is HIV type 1(HIV-1) and HIV type 2 (HIV-2) have been identified. In addition, in an effort to concentrate resources in the most important are, research has helped to identify HIV-1 as the most common strain among HIV positive...
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