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Immune System Problem Page-

1. Choose one of the problems described below.
2. Prepare your solution as a word document.
3. Send it to your professor as an email attachment. You will receive an email response.

Problem #1:AIDS is a condition in which the immune system is weakened making one prone to opportunistic infection. Many scientific and medical authorities believe AIDS is caused by a retrovirus named HIV. Some scientists are skeptical of this view. They believe that AIDS is caused by oral and intravenous drugs taken by individuals as either a lifestyle preference, or by prescriptions (e.g., AZT) obtained through physicians. Utilize the Internet or other sources to answer the following questions:

1.What does "AIDS" stand for and what does the word "syndrome" mean?
2. What is an "opportunistic infection?"
3. What are the opportunistic infections individuals with AIDS are more prone to contract compared with healthy people?
4. Who gets AIDS in the United States and other western nations? List the percent of the total for each group you list?
5. AIDS has been tracked by the U.S. Center for Disease Control since the early 1980's. Has there been a change in the list of "who gets AIDS" and the percentage of the total for each group from 1983 to the present? If yes, what are the changes?
6. What is a retrovirus? Is HIV the only known retrovirus? If not, do other retroviruses cause human disease?
7. From a microbiological/pathological point of view, what constitutes definitive evidence that an organism causes a given disease? What is the definitive evidence that HIV causes AIDS?
8. Are there any known cases of individuals dying from AIDS who never were infected with HIV? If so, how about how many cases have been documented?
9. Are there any cases of individuals who are know to be carriers of HIV and who have never contracted AIDS? Are there many such individuals in the US? In Africa and worldwide?
10. What does AZT stand for? How does this drug work? What are its side effects? Is AZT a new drug developed specifically to combat HIV? If not, when was AZT used prior to the emergence of AIDS? Would you characterize AZT as toxic or non-toxic? How long would you estimate the average individual might live taking AZT, whether or not they are infected with HIV?
11. What are protease inhibitors? How do they work? What are their side effects? Why might an individual with AIDS, with opportunistic, parasitic infections, get "better" when taking protease inhibitors?

Note: you will find many websites dealing with AIDS that assume HIV is the cause. Take a look at and for alternative points of view.

Problem #2: Fifty years ago removal of tonsils and the appendix was a much more frequent procedure than in present times. In addition, X-irradiation of the thymus gland was performed on some individuals in an attempt to determine the function of this gland. We now know that these organs are all part of the immune system. Utilize the Internet or other sources to answer the following questions:

1. What is the structure of the tonsils?
2. How do tonsils function as part of the immune system?
3. What is the difference between the palatine tonsils and the lingual tonsils? Which are removed when required?
4. Why are tonsils removed? What takes over for the removed tonsils?
5. What is the nasopharyngeal tonsil and how is it related to "adenoids."
6. What is the structure of the appendix?
7. How does the appendix function as part of the immune system?
8. Why is an appendectomy sometimes performed? What takes over for the removed appendix?

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