HIV and AIDS in Africa the Symptoms and Diagnosis.
In 1986 the World Health Organization and others formerly decided that for surveillance and record keeping purposes it was sufficient to diagnose AIDS symptomatically. So to be classified as having AIDS, patients should show two of the so-called major symptoms.
The symptoms and diagnoses.
- Chronic Diarrhea for more than a month.
- Weight loss of 10% of body weight.
- Intermittent or constant fever for more than a month.
Included with the above they should also show one or more of the following minor signs.
- History of herpes zoster.
- Persistent cough for more than a month.
- Generalized itchy skin rashes.
- Chronic progressive or disseminated herpes virus infection.
- Swollen lymph glands.
The above became known as the Bangui definition and was accepted as sufficient despite the fact that numerous other conditions can fit this profile. Laboratory facilities remain scarce in rural areas in Africa and AIDS is diagnosed on this basis in many rural areas.
Evidence for the AIDS epidemic in Africa lie in the millions of people whose immune systems are compromised and who become ill with a group of diseases that have been bracketed as "opportunistic infections".
Diseases on the World Health Organization's list of AIDS-indicators have been around for generations, TB, Kaposi's, sarcoma, Thrush, Herpes, persistent skin rashes, certain pneumonia, diarrhea, weight loss and Cryptococcal meningitis. Some like TB were killing millions long before the advent of AIDS.
At the time we were made to believe that pregnant woman who are given AZT or other anti-retroviral drugs pass the HI virus to their babies at half the rate. When the Minister of Health in South Africa placed the drug on hold in1999, it created a huge outcry and protest marches from certain groups in South Africa. Subsequently the outcry has somewhat stifled, are they eventually realizing that maybe there is more to AZT?
Amongst scientist there are disputes about what exactly it is that mothers pass on to their babies, is it antibodies to the virus (protection) or is it the HI virus.
The standard Elisa test only measures antibodies and in the few research studies where PCR is used the meaning of a positive test is disputed. Some scientist question the use of AZT or similar drugs to limit mother to child transmission they say its value is not proven and the risks are high. The US Food and Drug Administration Cleared AZT for human use despite serious flaws during testing. During the trial period deaths were minimal but soared when the trial ended. Reports in the New York Native newspaper in 1987 and 1992 based on documents acquired under the Freedom of Information Act bear testament to this fact.