AIDS remains one of the biggest health care issues the United States is currently dealing with. Reports of a mysterious new AIDS-like disease in Asians and Americans have been baffling scientists. Researchers were able to confirm the AIDS-like disease is not contagious.
It’s obviously not much of a relief to find out there’s a new disease out there that resembles AIDS in symptoms. Immune systems that are so damaged, it becomes impossible to fend off attacks from germs and bacteria just like healthy people. The new AIDS-like disease has been found in 2004 and since then it has become a concern for scientists, who still don’t know much about it.
Scores of people in Asia and even in the United States have been going to the doctor presenting AIDS-like symptoms. But doctors remained baffled in front of this new health concern. Tests showed the patients were not infected with HIV. Tests delivered no actual answer that would help researchers identify what triggers the disease.
So far, what health experts know is that the new AIDS-like disease doesn’t seem to be contagious. At least, not in the way AIDS spreads. Dr. Sarah Browne, scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and study co-author, explained the immune deficiency disease develops in adults around age 50 and doesn’t seem to be triggered by a gene passed along in families.
Although it does resemble AIDS, the new disease does not destroy T-cells, the key cells in the immune system that are in charge of fending off germs. The damage caused by this new disease blocks interferon-gamma, the chemical signal in charge of activating the body’s immune system. Patients with the new AIDS-like disease were found to produce autoantibodies, which block the interferon-gamma.
“This is absolutely fascinating” said Dr. Dennis Maki, infectious disease specialist with the University of Wisconsin”. “I’ve seen probably at least three patients in the last 10 years or so” who likely had what experts are now calling adult-onset immunodeficiency syndrome.
But dr. Sarah Browne believes the numbers of those affected by the disease with the AIDS symptoms is a lot bigger. “We know there are many others out there” she said, concerned by the fact that many patients might have been incorrectly diagnosed with tuberculosis in some countries.