Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids)

6 June 2016

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a killer disease, viewed as the deadliest disease that human kind has ever experienced is caused by the Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). (Irwin et al xxv)  One is said to be suffering from AIDS when their immune system has completely been compromised by the virus.  According to Alexander and others in their distinguished book ‘Global AIDS’, “Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), is the medical designation for a set of symptoms, opportunistic infections and laboratory markers that indicate that one is in the advanced stage of HIV infection and has an impaired immune system”. (Irwin et al xxv).

HIV Aids was first discovered in 1981 and as at 2005 approximately 40.3 million people were living with the virus. (Irwin et al 5). There are many myths surrounding the origin of HIV with some arguing that it originated from outer space or was artificially created and escaped from a laboratory. However it is argued that HIV is a natural virus that initially affected ape like creatures in Africa and man may have acquired the virus from close contacts with these creatures. (Johnson 11).

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (Aids) Essay Example

Mode of transmission.

 The HIV that causes Aids is transmitted through direct contact with infected body fluids which include semen, vaginal fluids or secretions, blood as well as breast milk. Pregnant mothers can pass the virus to their babies during delivery or when they are breast feeding them. (Irwin et al xxvi).  Aids has a long incubation period and one can live with the virus without any sign of illness for up to 10 years during which they may continue to spread the virus. Some people may however develop the clinical signs of Aids sooner than this time span and the opportunistic diseases will vary from one region to the next. For instance in the sub Saharan Africa, tuberculosis will be more common as opposed to America. During the incubation stage unless a test to confirm if one has the virus it is difficult to. This factor makes the spreading of the disease easy and faster. (Johnson 10).

The good news about the HIV Aids is that unlike other diseases that are airborne and hence highly contagious this virus cannot be transferred through handshake or sneezing from infected persons. This implies that it can effectively be contained if people observed positive behavioral practices. Although research has it that HIV has been found in minimal quantities in infected people’s saliva, tears and sweat there are limited chances of one acquiring the virus through these secretions. HIV is unable to survive outside the host and will therefore not be transmitted when outside the host. Research has also established that insect’s bites such as mosquitoes do not transmit the HIV. (www.cdc.gov)

Risk factors

 The risk factors for the acquisition of the HIV AIDS include having unsafe sexual relationships with many partners as well as using intravenous drugs. There are however some social economic factors that increase the chances of one acquiring the virus. Poverty, discrimination as well as gender inequalities increase the chances of one acquiring the HIV. (Irwin et al xxviii). Women in the sub-Saharan Africa tend to be most affected by HIV Aids which could be attributed to the high level of gender inequality as well as poverty levels in the region. Extreme poverty sees some women result to prostitution where they cannot effectively negotiate for safer sex in the highly patriarchal societies. (Suad and Afsaneh 4). The polygamous nature of men in the region also has a role to play in the spreading of the virus in the sub Saharan region.

Even in marriage some men are known t be promiscuous or unfaithful and though they may be aware of the danger this poses to them their wives continue to have unprotected sex with them. Gender discrimination sees many women get infected as their say is rarely respected. (Okeyo and Allen 20-25). Poverty also sees many young girls engage in sexual relationships with older men who offer them financial support. (Suad and Afsaneh 160). This increases their chances of contracting the virus as in these societies the pleasures of men will be prioritized to those of women. Negotiating for safer sex while there is a level of financial dependence and in a highly patriarchal society would be a difficult task.

Preventive measures

Since the major method in which the HIV AIDS is transmitted is through sexual intercourse with infected persons, the chances of being infected can therefore be reduced through the use of male or female condoms. Adoption of safer sex especially for those who have more than one sex partners can be an effective way of reducing the chances of getting infected. Proper usage of latex condoms can effectively reduce HIV aids transmissions. The lambskin condoms may not be very effective as they may have natural pores that can allow the passing of the virus from an infected partner to uninfected partner. (www.cdc.gov).

Among the intravenous drug users the chances of contracting the virus can be significantly reduced if they stopped sharing needles as well as other injection equipment as one infected person can transmit it to other persons through this. (Johnson 15). The application of “PMTC” or the prevention from mother to child through short course antiretroviral medication before delivery can also has an important role to play in reducing the chances of transmission from the mother to the child. Blood supplies especially among the medical professionals must also be handled with care to avoid contracting the virus. (Irwin et al 9).

People with the virus ought to live healthier lifestyles where they observe balanced diets, exercise well and have adequate rest. Rigorous education programs to ensure the creation of awareness across all populations is essential in all populations. People should be offered accurate information on how the virus is contracted, the behavioral risks and how they can prevent themselves from contracting it. (Nokes 3). Encouraging people to get tested is also an effective strategy as with this knowledge unknowing transmissions would be minimal.

Treatment

 Sadly, there is no known cure for Aids but through the antiretroviral medication (ARV), AIDS is medically managed. The ARV’s stops the HIV from replicating thus reducing the amount of virus that is running in a patient’s blood stream consequently restoring the immune function. The ARV treatment should be continued for life and it is known to have less severe side effects although with time patients may have some level of resistance to some medications. (Irwin et al  Xxvii). However these medication is attributed for the reduced AIDS related deaths as well as the enhancement of life to those who apply it.

Challenges curbing the war on Aids.

 Barriers to effective prevention methods which are quite in clear in theory are associated with people’s cultural as well as economic orientation. Ignorance and misinformation about HIV aids continue to hinder the successful fight against the deadly disease. Another challenge is that despite their positive contribution is prolonging and enhancing the lives of many, the ARV medication remains inaccessible to many especially in the developing countries. (Irwin et al  xxviii). Some cultural backgrounds also make the war against Aids a difficult task especially in the third world countries where the topic of sexuality is perceived as a taboo and consequently highly avoided.

Works cited:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV and Its Transmission. Retrieved on 13th

May 2009 from http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/transmission.htm

Irwin, Alexander, Millen Joyce and Fallows Dorothy. Global AIDS: myths and facts:

 tools for fighting the AIDS pandemic. South End Press, 2003

Johnson, Paula. HIV and AIDS. The Rosen Publishing Group, 2007

Nokes, Kathleen.  HIV/AIDS and the older adult. Taylor & Francis Publishers 1996

Okeyo, M. and Allen K. “Influence of widow inheritance in epidemiology of AIDS in

Africa”. African Journal of Medical Practice vol 1 (1): 1994. 20-25.

Suad Joseph and Afsaneh Najmabadi. Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures:

 Family, body, sexuality and health. Brill, Publisher 2003

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