The scourge of HIV/AIDS surged to the forefront of American consciousness in 1980 when the first case was reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Initially thought to be transmitted solely through homosexual liaisons, it was soon realized that the disease could be passed through the bodily fluids of any person infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Contrary to early myths, HIV cannot be contracted by shaking hands or hugging, or by touching dishes or toilet seats used by infected people. It doesn’t spread through the air, through insect bites or through sweat, saliva or urine. HIV is only spread through sexual intercourse, sharing needles, or by a mother passing the disease to her child at birth, and it is transmitted through blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids or breast milk.
Urban legend purports that HIV started in the 1980s, but that was only when the public first became aware of HIV and when it was officially recognized as a new health concern. The origin of HIV has been a topic of debate since the virus was first identified. Scientific research now estimates with some certainty that in the early 1900s a simian form of HIV was transmitted to humans in Africa as a result of chimps being killed and eaten, or by chimp blood getting into cuts on people in the course of hunting. The virus morphed within…
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