HIV/AIDS

Subject: Health Care
Type: Informative Essay
Pages: 6
Word count: 1635
Topics: HIV, Disease
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Reasons for choosing the disease

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is a primary concern and as such, one of the global health issues facing the world today. The reason for choosing to study and explore this disease is because it mainly affects the low-income and the middle-income countries. A concern is in the specific regions like the Sub-Saharan Africa where about 70% of the infections come from (World Health Organization, 2016). Besides, exploration of the disease has been informed by the fact that in spite of the several scientific advances aimed at understanding the disease, treatment and prevention has been limited to those with the illness as they are not in the position to access these healthcare facilities. Moreover, HIV/AIDS is the only global disease epidemic whose cure has not been found although developments like antiretroviral drugs have been fruitful in controlling the virus such that people can live and enjoy their lives (Young, 2016). 

Another reason for choosing this disease is that it has cumulative effects on the health of the individuals, escalated effects on households, communities in addition to the entire growth and economic development of the nations (Faria et al., 2014). Conversely, living with the disease is a major challenge because it is sexually transmitted while other means like having fresh blood contacts with an infected person can lead to its contraction. Furthermore, the social stigma of living with the disease is sometimes too much to bear for the infected and this makes HIV/AIDS one of the dreaded diseases that people are more afraid to contract despite being gotten through means that people cannot avoid(a larger percentage from unprotected sex) (WHO, 2016). 

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AIDS: Definition

There is always the confusion on the definition of AIDS, as some confuse it as a disease thought it is not. AIDS as a term stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome as symptoms caused by the HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) (Faria et al., 2014). Therefore, when a person has AIDS his or her immune system has become weakened and as such, cannot fight off diseases and infections. In return, they will develop particular defining illnesses and symptoms. The last stage of the HIV is the development of the symptoms and illnesses, and when left untreated, it leads to death. A detailed definition or explanation of the term explains AIDS particularly as a condition that affecting the immunity system of humans and becomes and is indicated by the reduction number of the CD4-bearig helper cells. The CD4-bearing T cells can reduce to as low as 20 percent or even lower than the normal levels (Young, 2016). In this case, the infection renders the individual highly susceptible to all the deadly diseases and conditions like pneumonia in addition to other grave conditions like Kaposi’s sarcoma (WHO, 2016). The diseases are caused by the HIV infection transmitted through infected blood more so through various means like illegal injection drugs and the secretions from the body like semen. 

Symptoms of HIV/AIDS

The symptoms of AIDS depend on its infection stage. Most of the people living with the virus always seem infectious in the first few months but are totally unaware of their status until the disease riches the later stages. Therefore, for the first few weeks upon infection, some of the most common symptoms include headaches, sore throat, rash, and fever (WHO, 2016). The victims should always look for influenza-like symptoms. However, with the progression of the infection, there is a great weakening of the immune system with the individuals developing signs like weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, cough, fever, and diarrhea. If the individuals have not been treated, then they will develop severe illnesses including cryptococcal meningitis, tuberculosis, cancers like the Kaposi’s sarcoma and lymphomas (Faria et al., 2014). 

Causes of HIV/AIDS

AIDS is specifically caused by the HIV gotten through modes of transmission and risk factors. Transmission of the disease is through various ways through which people exchange body fluids between a healthy person and an infected individual. For instance, exchange of blood, vaginal secretions, semen, and breast milk are some of the major ways of getting the disease (WHO, 2016). Nevertheless, individuals are not exposed such activities like the daily contacts including shaking hands, hugging, kissing or sharing water, food and personal objects. Nonetheless, there are considerate risk factors to getting the disease, and these are termed as the behavioral risk factors.  For instance, engaging in unprotected sex is a major risk factor. Other sexually transmitted diseases, like syphilis, gonorrhea, as well as bacterial vaginosis, can put one in danger of contracting HIV/AIDS (Faria et al., 2014). The disease is equally gotten through the sharing of contaminated needles, injection equipment like syringes can be risk factors. Unsafe blood transfusions, injections, medical procedures, tissue transplantation involving unsterile piercing and cutting can expose one to the disease (WHO, 2016). 

Diagnosis 

Different methods and approaches like serological tests including enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) and RDTs can detect the absence or lack of HIV-1/2 antibodies or the HIV/p24 antigen (WHO, 2016). When used according to the stated testing algorithm, it is possible to detect HIV infection accurately. However, the serological tests aim at detecting the antibodies that an individual produce due to their immune systems fighting off foreign pathogens and not specifically the HIV direct testing. On the other hand, most people will develop the HIV/-1/2 antibodies within 28 days after infection; thus, an early test may not be useful as the virus is still under window or eclipse period (Faria et al., 2014). 

How AIDS/HIV was found 

The origin of HIVAIDS has been debated with an equal body of research confirming that scientists discovered the HIV from Central Africa (Faria et al., 2014). Notably,  studied a Central African Chimpanzee as the source of the virus. The Chimpanzee had simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) the virus may have been transmitted to humans. However, through mutation, SIV became HIV; the virus may have been gotten as humans were hunting chimpanzees and got the virus by coming into contact with the infected meat (through blood) (Faria et al., 2014). On the other hand, a similar body of research has traced back the HIV to the 1800s and the possibility of jumping from apes to humans. The virus has then spread across the entire of Africa and has now become a major disease in the globe and such, considered a global epidemic. 

Describe the prognosis and treatments (i.e. drugs, surgery)

There is no specific drug or treatments for HIV/AIDS, but antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) have been proven to control and reduce the development or spread of the virus (Young, 2016). The ART regimens, for instance, have been identified to mitigate the risk of transmitting HIV by 96%, and this is a significant stride towards reducing the HIV/AIDS transmissions (WHO, 2016). Oral Pre-exposure prophylaxis or the PrEP are recommended for use among HIV-negative partners, and this entails using the ARV drugs by a negative person to block the possibility of acquiring the virus. Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) has also been recommended for individuals or using the ARV drugs barely 72hours after being exposed to the virus (WHO, 2016). 

Systems of the Body Affected

HIV/AIDS mainly affects the white blood cells, particularly the CD4-T cells responsible for the immune system. In this sense, the virus is mainly found in the blood system and as such, spreads to the entire body system (Faria et al., 2014). The sexual organs are also affected especially the vaginal and seminal fluids thereby increasing the risk of contraction or transmission through sexual intercourse (unprotected sex) (WHO, 2016). 

How HIV/AIDS Affects Lifestyle

Once contracting the disease, HIV/AIDS can have serious, devastating effects on the life of the individuals. Notably, the victims will be living with the fear of transmitting the diseases, engrossed in worrying about future life, having problems with self-esteem, experiencing difficulty with their sleep and coping with the treatment (WHO, 2016). The general perception of health reduces as one perceives him or herself as being sick. The individuals face social relationship problems with the diminishing quality of their relationships. There is also the issue of having to deal with emotions, while people living with HIV/AIDS have been reported to have reduced or limited sleep, with others suffering from cognitive function problems as well as physical impairment when performing daily activities (Faria et al., 2014). 

The Lifespan of Persons with HIV/AIDS

Different studies have presented reports on the lifespan of individuals living with HIV/AIDS with some arguing that victims can live as long as 35 years, especially for younger individuals (Young, 2016). However, the prolonged age depends on people who are taking medication. If medication is not taken, then one can die within few years or months after contracting the disease depending on the risk diseases like pneumonia (Faria et al., 2014).  Therefore, with the current drugs, it is possible for someone who contracted HIV/AIDS to live up to over 60 years (Young, 2016).

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Current Research

Many efforts are currently directed towards the cure and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Efforts like stem cell therapy are being considered and tested for their efficacy in treating HIV/AIDS (Labiotech.eu, 2017). More so, transplants are being considered, with the first one being the Berlin case that otherwise proved as a breakthrough towards getting the medication. Gilead is leading in this research with the possibilities of developing vaccines although functional treatment is far from being found. 

Hypothetical solution

A proposed and the most hypothetical solution is that there should be research aimed at developing a vaccine to make people immune to HIV. The implication is that the disease is caused by a virus whose treatment is far from being identified. Therefore, if stronger immunity is provided against the virus by developing highly functioning vaccines to reduce the virulent capacity of HIV, then there will be a breakthrough to AIDS. 

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  1. Faria, N. R., Rambaut, A., Suchard, M. A., Baele, G., Bedford, T., Ward, M. J., … & Posada, D. (2014). The early spread and epidemic ignition of HIV-1 in human populations. Science, 346(6205), 56-61.
  2. Labiotech.eu, (2017). An HIV Cure by 2020? A Review of Current Efforts. http://labiotech.eu/hiv-cure-abivax-review/
  3. World Health Organization(WHO). HIV/AIDS. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs360/en/
  4. Young, B. (2016, May). How Long Can You Live With HIV? Very. Retrieved from http://www.thebody.com/content/77527/how-long-can-you-live-with-hiv-very.html
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