Social Model of Disability

3 March 2017

. Critically consider the implications for a person with an impairment condition and the opportunities for them to become a member of an inclusive society. This piece of work will try and address the issues surrounding a person who is diagnosed with HIV and the inter-related condition AIDS. The essay will begin with an outline of what HIV and AIDS actually is. Once diagnosis has been confirmed, then a brief discussion on the treatment and delivery and the differences between the social and medical model will address how the individual is treated in relation to health care.

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Key issues surrounding a work place or educational environment and generally the discrimination they face from different aspects within society will be discussed from a critical perspective. The introduction of relevant government legislation, in particular the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the new Act in 2005 will show what measures have been taken to allow an individual to feel included and not excluded within modern day society. National organisations such as the ‘Terrence Higgins Trust’ will also be included as to what services are on offer for the individual and their personal close contacts.

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). It can only be passed on from person to person through blood, semen, vaginal fluids or breast milk and is commonly passed on from one person to another through reusing or the sharing of needles, unprotected sex or during pregnancy. The most Common perceptions are that it can be passed on from kissing, sharing drinks or by sharing eating utensils but this is completely untrue (website1).

HIV infects and gradually destroys an infected person’s immune system thus reducing their protection against infections or cancers. Initially, someone who is living with HIV may not show any symptoms of HIV infection as their immune system manages to control it. However, in most cases their immune system will eventually need help from anti-HIV drugs to keep the HIV infection under control. Unfortunately these drugs do not rid the body of the HIV infection. AIDS is the short name for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. AIDS is not a single disease or condition.

Instead, it is a term that describes the point when a person’s immune system can no longer cope because of the damage caused by HIV and they will start to get one or more specific illnesses. AIDS itself does kill; it is the related conditions they acquire such as cancers, pneumonia or other conditions that may take hold when their immune system has been weakened by the HIV virus (website 3). The most common treatment available for HIV is ‘combination therapy’, which as its name suggests is a combination of drugs which is started when the individual’s immune system is reaching very low levels.

It works by suppressing the person’s immunity as much as possible. There are also a number of anti-HIV drugs (often called anti-retroviral drugs), which have dramatically improved the life expectancy of someone diagnosed with HIV. However, the treatments are complex and probably need to be taken for the rest of the individual’s life. Which medication to take and when to start taking them varies according to individual need and circumstances and a treatment plan must be drawn together with the patient and practitioner (Pratt 1995).

Consideration needs to be given whether the individual wishes to adhere to the medical model and accept the medical treatment offered or choose to participate in the social model and be given the opportunity to voice their opinion and make decisions regarding their treatment plan. The medical model is a traditional model that adheres to traditional medical procedures and does not give such consideration to the wishes of the patient and enforces the notion that it’s your ‘own fault’. Whereas the social model will take into account the patients wishes and co-operate with the patient in the delivery of care.

The new emerging affirmative model is seen as a ‘non-tragic view of disability’; it strengthens the social model by promoting inclusion and understanding the patient as an individual Johnstone (2001). According to Weitz (1991), a large scale survey carried out in the U. S. A found problems facing an individual who is HIV positive or diagnosed with AIDS face discrimination largely down to ignorance from people who just simply do not understand how it can be spread or how the individual may have contacted the disease in the first place.

Johnstone p. 126 (2001) points out that within the U. K there has been a shift away from “bigoted public attitudes” but the stigma remains which is largely down to how the media portray the illness. Legislation such as the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was introduced to eliminate discrimination towards disabled people in areas of employment, education, accessing facilities, goods or services and the managing, buying or renting of land or property. Parts of it became law in December 1996, and other parts have been introduced over time.

For example, within organisations and businesses it became unlawful for employers to treat disabled people less favorably than other employees for a reason in relation to their disability. Reasonable adjustments have had to be made for any person with a disability, such as making changes in service provision or providing extra help since October 1999. Premises have also had to ensure any adaptations to allow access for disabled people were implemented from October 2004.

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