2015 saw the emergence of an aggressive strain of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus(HIV) called CRF19 (Circulating Recombinant Form). While the older HIV virus can lead to AIDS(Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome) in six to ten years, CRF19 accelerates the rate to within three years.
The good news is that the new form seems to be restricted to Cuba (where it is commoner in men who have sex with other men) and faster ways of making the diagnosis using swabs taken from inside the mouth. The bad news is that the fast infection rate means that irreversible damage to the immune system may be done by the time a diagnosis is made and treatment started.
A virus that normally infected only monkeys was first reported to have infected a human being in the 1930s. This demonstrated the ability of this virus to rapidly adapt to hostile environments. It was therefore not strange that the virus that was responsible for a cluster of infections in gay communities in America, in the early 1980s, was quite different from the original one.
The virus damages and kills security guard cells, soldier cells and spy(CD4) cells in the body. These normally protect us against infections and certain cancers. When the immune system is damaged, even weak micro-organisms(Fungal,Viral and bacterial) can cause opportunistic infections. Certain forms of cancer also become common. Infection may remain silent or it may lead to the various types of infection. The later condition is then known as AIDS (Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
CRF19 is a patchwork of resistant bits and pieces from older viruses. The descendants of the more resistant viruses are taking over.
Since the 1980s, around 40 million people have died from HIV related causes. Another 35 million people have been diagnosed to harbour the HIV virus or suffer from subsequent AIDS. Since there is still no known cure for the virus (only medication to slow down its progress), our most effective strategy is still a heavy reliance on preventive measures.
In the 80s, people were faced with the problems of ignorance, fear, taboos, stigmatization and later (when Antiretroviral medications became available), complacency.
It is estimated that less than 50% of people living with HIV are aware of their status. Some parents delay informing their children born with HIV in the hope of protecting them from ridicule and discrimination in school. These facts suggest that those obstacles are still holding back efforts to tackle the disease.
The world was still reeling from the AIDS virus which had just been discovered in the early 80s. People were still not comfortable talking about it openly. A musician who wrote songs and sung about topics that mattered to his music fans penned a song about HIV/AIDS.
In a musical career spanning almost forty years, Franco Luambo Luanzo Makiadi (simply and affectionately known as Franco) wrote over a thousand songs and produced around fifty albums. He was instrumental in establishing Congolese music as a force to reckon with on the world scene. The undisputed king of Soukous was born on 6th July, 1938. Franco died at the age of 51 on 12th October, 1989.
Attention Na Sida, released in 1989, resonated with audiences worldwide. The passionate message is still relevant today.
Musica translated the Lyrics from French into English (Below):