Human Immunodeficiency Virus

  • Uncategorized


Communicable diseases are important in public health because theycontribute to the health burden in most states. Most of the programsdesigned by government and non-profit organization focus on reducingthis burden by addressing the cues of the diseases. In healthinstitutions, a majority of the patients present themselves withsymptoms of communicable diseases. The rationale behind givingcommunicable diseases intense attention is because some of them canresult in high morbidity and mortality due to theirs fast spreading.Also, most of them are easy to prevent by addressing their hosts andtransmission routes. HIV is one the widespread communicable diseaseswith a public health importance. Understanding the causes, symptoms,and transmission of HIV is imperative because, unlike some othercommunicable diseases that are curable, HIV has no cure (Delva etal., 2012). Also, it is also one of the diseases with the greatestburden, especially in the developing countries.

attacks the immune system and weakensthe body’s ability to fight diseases. The virus infects the CD4cells and destroys them. Without the capacity to fight disease, thebody becomes prone to opportunistic infections. The major cause ofHIV is unprotected sex with an infected person (Delva et al., 2012).It is also caused by sharing sharps and needles with an infectedperson through the mixing of body fluids. Other fluids like bloodfrom an infected person may result in HIV if it gets into contactwith an open wound on a healthy person. Another common way by whichHIV gets transmitted is from the mother to the baby during birth orthrough breastfeeding.

After acquiring HIV, an individual exhibits symptoms after two orthree weeks. They include fever, sore throat, headache, muscle aches,joint pains and swollen lymph nodes. An infected person may alsodevelop skin rash (Delva et al., 2012). The symptoms may undergo alatency period before showing again usually after three months. Theconsequent symptoms after this period include weight loss, extremetiredness, night sweats and diarrhea. After the body detects thepresence of the virus in the body, it releases antibodies. Healthworkers test for the presence of the antibodies by using the ELISA orblood test. The major complication brought about by the presence ofthe virus in the body beside it symptoms include the inability of thebody protect itself from the common illness like Malaria,tuberculosis, common cold among others (Delva et al., 2012).

The confirmation of the virus in the body prompts health workers toput the individuals under Anti-retro Viral Therapy (ARV). ARVs helpin reducing the rate of virus multiplication in the body and,therefore, help in maintaining a significant level of CD4 cells. Theyinclude Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors, theNon-nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor Protease Inhibitors(Delva et al., 2012).

Despite the drugs being available in the health institutions, thenumber of people living with HIV is enough to raise an alarm.According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 1.2 millionpeople live with HIV. Unfortunately, 12.8% of these do not know theirstatus. Every year, about 50,000 Americans acquire the virus throughthe various ways. Men who have sex with men bear the greatest burdenof the people living with HIV (Delva et al., 2012). In 2011, MSMaccounted for 54% of the people living with HIV and made 78% of allthe new infections. In 2012, 13,712 Americans diagnosed with HIVdied. Overall, about 658,507 Americans have died owing to thecontraction of the virus (Delva et al., 2012).

The prevalence of HIV is attributable to the determinants thatinclude social-economic, environmental, biological and personalbehavior. Social-economic factors affect people access to qualityhealth care as well as the practice of quality preventive mechanisms.For HIV, social, economic factors affect health seeking behavior andaccess to medical facilities. In some regions especially in thedeveloping countries, health may be a basic need but not accessibleto people with low income. They may not bear the burden of nutritionand drugs that are essential for people living with HIV. Also, HIVrequires a lot of social support especially when death results. Thebereaved families need social protection and custody for children ifnone of the parents is alive. Stigma has been a thorn in the fight toreduce the rate of transmission and it takes a lot of campaign beforepeople accepting people living with HI as normal patients in thesociety.

Biological factors also affect disease transmission. Some biologicalconditions make individuals prone to diseases. I the case of HIV,biological conditions like the presence of STIs may increasesusceptibility to HIV especially with the ones that result in woundsand lesions in the genitals. The environments that people live inexpose them to various conditions that may result in varied diseases.Environmental conditions like rainfall, temperature or terrainsupport various conditions for disease transmission. People living inpoverty stricken locations are exposed to conditions that may supportthe transmission of HIV. It is in such conditions where unprotectedsex is rampant, early pregnancies and lack of awareness ofreproductive health information. These factors affect the personalbehavior and consequently the contraction and management of adisease. Personal behaviors like health seeking behavior determine anindividual’s health greatly. For HIV, it takes a personal behaviorto get tested and adhere to drugs. Also, engaging in responsiblesexual behavior is a personal behavior, and it determines thesusceptibility to disease.

The epidemiological triangle helps in understanding the factors thatincrease the susceptibility of individuals to HIV. The agent (HumanImmunodeficiency Virus) does not survive outside the human body.Also, it has diminished susceptibility to antibodies since t directlyinfects them reduces their capacity for resistance. Its capacity tomultiply fast puts the CD4 cells at risk of depletion. The onlyintervention to [event the agent from entering the body is throughavoiding the transmission methods and taking suppressive drugs incase of infection. The environment also plays an important role insusceptibility n transmission of HIV (Beyrer &amp Karim, 2013). Thepresence of medical facilities that promote testing and counselingmay make a difference in the number of new cases. The socialstructure in a community directly affects the burden that people haveto bear. For example, in the case of death, some families need socialprotection and protection from stigma. Some practices like femalegenital mutilation, home delivery, and intravenous drug use also makepeople susceptible to HIV. HIV stays in the human body, and theinfected person becomes the host (Beyrer &amp Karim, 2013). Thecharacteristics of the host are may make him/her susceptible.Exposure to STIs increases the chances of contraction. The host’sbehavior like indiscriminate unprotected sex, intravenous drug use,and MSM increases susceptibility.

The factors expressed in the epidemiological triangle requireinterventions and community health nurse play an imperative role inthese interventions. The nurses help in following up the attendanceto comprehensive clinical care and adherence to drugs. Patientscollect drugs at certain intervals and sticking to the prescribeddisease is essential for the suppression of the virus. Also, sincethe patients are prone to opportunistic infections due to theirweakened immunity, community health nurses monitor their heath andthat of those in their families. They also collect data on newinfections and make new follow-ups. They also help in identifyingindividuals with symptoms that resemble those of HIV and recommendthem for testing. They also report defiant infected individuals whomay pose a risk to others who may be oblivious to their healthconditions.

Government and nonprofit institutions liaise to reduce the burden ofHIV both locally and in the international arena. One of the mostprominent organizations is USAID. The organization that mostly getsits funding from the America operates worldwide with a focus on thedeveloping countries. The organization works with collaboratingpartners in the countries to provide reproductive health education onprevention as well as facilitating counseling for the patients(Kalemli-Ozcan, 2012). Also, the organization organizes for socialprotection through the collaborating partners by providing skills andmaterial items to the infected and affected families. Through itsefforts in 28 countries, health institutions have implementedevidence-based practices drawing its collected statistics(Kalemli-Ozcan, 2012).

Although HIV transmission and burden has greatly reduced, it remainsan important factor in public health. The combined efforts of thegovernment and non-profit making organizations have been instrumentalin preventing new infections and stigma by creating awareness in thesociety. The fact that those who are not infected are affectedwarrants the efforts of all key players in the society to combat HIV.


Beyrer, C., &ampKarim, Q. A. (2013). The Changing Epidemiology of HIV in 2013.Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS, 8(4), 306-310.

Delva, W., Wilson,D. P., Abu-Raddad, L., Gorgens, M., Wilson, D., Hallett, T. B., &ampWelte, A. (2012). HIV treatment as prevention: principles of good HIVEpidemiology Modeling for Public Health Decision-making in all Modesof Prevention and Evaluation. PLoS Medicine, 9(7), 938.

Kalemli-Ozcan, S.(2012). AIDS,“reversal” of the Demographic Transition andEconomic Development: Evidence from Africa. Journal of PopulationEconomics, 25(3), 871-897.

Close Menu