This first part is devoted to the illness general knowledge and awareness of the HIV, and next one will be about her research and how it's like to be an investigator.
Here's the interview:
When HIV enters our body, wants to reproduce as much as it can. So, for this, it infects many types of cells, but preferentially a type of white blood cells knows as CD4 and starts multiplying itself using our own cell machinery. Our body will eventually realize that this cell has been infected and will eliminate it from our organism, but the virus will already have infected other cells. What happens then? Every time we have less cells and more virus. It is a little like the concept of the bubble kid, we have an injured immune system, too weak to fight other infections or illnesses.
You can be infected b the HIV and not have any AIDS's syndromes. Those would only appear at the terminal stage and it is related to when the infection has been in your body for a long time without being treated. So, basically, the AIDS would be a more developed phase of the HIV disease.
Before being diagnosed, you probably would not even notice it. Once noticed the illness, although some patients complain about some side effects, I'd say the most important is the psychological fact. You feel guilty and scared. Afraid that people might reject you or ignore you. Many patients don't even tell their families about it. If you had a cancer you would tell to your closest friends, but now with the HIV. And that is upsetting. People still carries it in silence. Another item is that we haven't found a curation for it, so you need to be very regular with the pills, for the rest of your life. It's like daily putting a face to your sickness. See the pill? This is your what you have.
That North Americans created the virus (laughs)! They created it in order to have a massive destruction weapon to kill Africans. And there is another good one which is that this disease has never existed, it is all an invention of the pharmaceutical industry. It actually is a very solid group with really solid arguments defending that there is no suck sickness. If they get infected, you tell them but they don't want to believe you because they are feeling well and they won't take the pills. They distrust, and there are a lot of campaigns against us, and all the research... There has to be all kind of people you know!
From monkeys in Africa. At the end of the 19th Century, many poachers got in contact and dealt with infected animals, like chimpanzees. I mean, they did not had sex with them! but got infected through cut hunting and butchery. Progressively and driven by -among others- urbanisation, use of reusable syringe in colonial medical vaccination campaigns, plasma centres and later sexual transmission, the virus end up spreading to the rest of Africa, the Caribbean and ultimately the USA.
The most important thing is to educate. And this a job for schools. They have to inform their boys and girls about the disease and how it should be prevented. We will do talks and conferences and museum exhibitions, but the hardest work needs to be done at education. It shouldn't be real that I ask young girls who have just started having relationships what do they worry about and they only tell me 'pregnancy'. They aren't aware about the HIV. And this is something is failing in our society. Schools needs to talk over and over and over again until their pupils are totally mindful about the risks of having sexual relationships and how they should prevent infections. Because, once you have been taking the pills, you don't transmit the virus anymore and the chain of transmissions would be cut.