HIV and AIDS Assignment

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HIV and AIDS Assignment Essay

Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is the virus that leads to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). According to WebMd (2014), people with HIV are not considered to have AIDS until the individual is diagnosed with certain infections or cancers or the individual’s CD4 (T-cell) count drops below 200. This low T-cell count relates to one’s ability to naturally fight off infections due to a lowered immune system. There have been many advances and research on HIV and AIDS, however there remains a constant increase of those who are inflicted with this disease. However, for as much information that is available on HIV and AIDS, there are equal amounts of myths and misinformation. It is the intention of this paper to establish a collection of facts through research that disputes these myths and express the health risks, prevention methods, and treatment options for the communicable disease HIV that leads to the development of AIDS.HIV and AIDS Assignment Essay

Overview
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus is the communicable disease that is spread through through the transfer of body fluids from an infected person. The virus effects specific cells that are part of the immune system. These cells are called CD4 cells or T-cells. The virus destroys these cells and can eventually weaken the immune system to the point that the body can no longer fight off infections or other diseases. This leads to the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). This information disputes the general misconception that AIDS is the communicable disease when it is actually a disorder of the immune system that is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014) notes that there are stages that are used to track the progression and severity of the virus. The Acute infection stage is the initial infection period and symptoms begin between two and four weeks of exposure. These symptoms which are called acute retroviral syndrome (ARS), are similar to flu-like symptoms and do not occur in all patients. The second stage is the Clinical latency (inactivity or dormancy). During this stage, the virus is active but remains so at a very low level. Unlike the misconception that HIV patients can only live for a short time, individuals can live for decades during this stage. The final stage of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus is the previously mentioned acquired immune deficiency syndrome. During this stage, the patient is highly susceptible to other infections and diseases (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014).HIV and AIDS Assignment Essay

Risk Factors
It is important to note that anyone can get the Human Immunodeficiency Virus as it is transmitted through the bodily fluids of a person who is infected. WebMd (2014) states that approximately 50,000 people get HIV every year in the United States and that these individuals include males and females of all ages, races, and sexual orientation. However, there are several risk factors such as gender, race, age, sexual orientation , and socio-economic factors that increase an individual’s odds of getting the virus.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014) notes that African Americans are at a greater risk of getting HIV than any other race(Figure 1). The website also noted that men are at a higher risk than females. Specifically, gay or bisexual men have the highest numbers of diagnosed people although these individuals only make up 2% of the population. The age range that has the most reported cases of HIV is between 13 and 24 as a 2010 report showed that this range accounted for approximately 26% of new infections (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). Additionally, it has been noted that there is a significant risk of getting HIV for those who live with economic hardships (Figure 2). These risks are associated with poor living conditions and lifestyle chooses in the impoverished communities that lead to risky behaviors (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014).HIV and AIDS Assignment Essay

Prevention
According to Avert (2014) the first step in preventing the spread of HIV is through proper education. The concept is that understanding the risky behaviors that can lead to transmission should minimize these behaviors. Of these behaviors, the two most common means of transmission in the United States are unprotected sex and sharing needles for the purpose of drug use. Therefore, the prevention methods that are explained by Avert(2014) are the use of condoms used with lubricant to prevent the risks of rips and avoiding needle drugs or at minimum not sharing needles (Avert, 2014). There are many ways that the education about HIV could be improved.Although it is discussed in schools and the literature is available online and through the public health department, the stigmas and myths about the virus prevent many individuals from seeking information. Efforts should be made to eliminate these obstacles. Additionally, the availability of condoms should be more prevalent in high risk communities.HIV and AIDS Assignment Essay

Treatment
Although there is no cure for HIV, there are drugs called HIV antiretroviral drug treatment that are available to minimize the effects of HIV and extend the life expectancy of those infected to nearly as long as healthy individuals. These medications can cost up to $15,000 annually but financial assistance is available through private and governmental agencies (WebMd, 2014). The awareness of these financial programs should be increased in order to assist more individuals who are battling the symptoms of the virus.

Conclusion
As there is no cure for the virus, HIV is considered a fearful subject by many people. This has led to misconceptions and stereotypes that often prevent people from seeking information, testing, or treatment. The best method to combat this virus is through increasing the education in the community about prevention and making those prevention methods readily available especially to those individuals who are classified as having a greater risk of catching the virus. HIV and AIDS Assignment Essay