17 Nov 2022


Communicable Disease: HIV/AIDS

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HIV/AIDs Overview 

HIV/AIDs represents two terms, that is, AIDs and HIV. AIDs (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), is the chronic condition caused the virus known as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The virus does not targets and damages the immune systems and renders the body unable to fight organisms causing disease. The vulnerable body, therefore, undergoes a potentially life-threatening chronic condition where victims suffer from various diseases, mostly opportunistic diseases. The disease is basically a sexually transmitted disease but can also be spread through breastfeeding or during childbirth or during pregnancy, through sharing of needles and blood transfusion. After infection with the virus, it may take years before the condition finally turns to AIDs. Some of the symptoms of HIV/AIDs include fever, fatigue, diarrhea, swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, and oral yeast infection among others. In most cases swollen lymph nodes manifest as the first signs of the infection. For an individual whose condition has developed to AIDs, signs and symptoms may include soaking night sweats, chronic diarrhea, weight loss, skin rashes, white spots or lesions on the tongue or mouth, and persistent fatigue, among others. 

Luckily, due to advancements in medicine in recent times, most people with the virus do not get to develop AIDS ( Basavaraj et al., 2010) . Today, it is possible to diagnose the infection and find out if a person is infected or not. Diagnosis may involve checking for the viral antigen or protein, or the antibodies specific to the virus. Treatment involves administering antiretroviral drugs and managing the disease through checking CD4 T cell count and viral load. While therapy is important and effective, keeping patients healthy and preventing them from developing AIDS, it can be very difficult given its numerous and severe side effects. On top of treatment, persons diagnosed with the virus are also advised to eat healthy diets, have exercises, and avoid eggs and raw meat among other things. Prevention involves using condoms, preexposure prophylaxis, being honest with partners, male circumcision, and using sterile needles. Complications arise due to a damaged immune system, which is basically the work of HIV. Complications involve infections with opportunistic diseases such as tuberculosis, candidiasis, cryptosporidiosis, cytomegalovirus, and cryptococcal meningitis among others. Cancers that may arise include lymphoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma. 

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Incidence, Prevalence, Morbidity, and Mortality. 

Decades have gone by since the discovery of the infection of the virus, and after the created global awareness on HIV/AIDS and the advancement of medicine regarding its treatment and prevention, many people still live with HIV, and there are still new cases of infection all over the world. In the United States today, over one million people are still living with the virus. What is even worrying is the fact that almost twenty percent of those living HIV are not aware that they have the virus. The huge numbers of new cases of disease are also quite worrying given the great awareness of the disease and the virus throughout every corner of the country and globally. In the year 2017, there were about thirty-eight thousand diagnoses of HIV in the US. In 2018 over five thousand deaths resulted from HIV infection and related illnesses. Globally, during the same year, about seven hundred and seventy people died as a result of HIV infection and related illnesses ( De Cock et al., 2012) . 

Since the discovery of the infection of the virus, over seventy-five thousand people suffer from it. About thirty-two million people have died globally as a result of HIV infection and related complications. At the moment, about forty million people are living with HIV worldwide. Africa is the most affected continent, with over two-thirds of all the persons infected with the virus. However, with the advancement in medicine and treatment of HIV/AIDS, fewer and fewer people are now dying from the disease, and people can now live longer and stable lives with the virus ( De Cock et al., 2012) . 

Determinants of Health affecting HIV/AIDs 

Research and treatment of HV/AIDS have been affected by the various determinants of health, such as policymaking, social factors, individual factors, and health services ( Dean & Fenton, 2010) . The HIV/AIDS pandemic has been treated as a serious health issue worldwide, prompting state and world leaders to make policies towards prevention, management, and treatment of the disease. Antiretroviral drugs for the disease, for instance, have been availed freely and made accessible to people diagnosed with or living with the virus. Social issues such a stigma and discrimination have been addressed through campaigns, education, social and many other social avenues and platforms to allow people with HIV to live comfortably. Discrimination and stigma have however affected people with HIV as well as the management of the disease, quite severely. Stigma, for instance has made it difficult for people to come out, seek and access health services and treatment, which has, in turn, led to further infection of many other people. 

The major individual factors affecting HIV/AIDS include diet and drugs, such as alcohol and cigarettes ( Dean & Fenton, 2010) . People with HIV/AIDS need to keep healthy diets and refrain from eating certain foods such as raw meat. Sadly, not all people can maintain proper diet. A majority of the people affected by the virus are low-income earners who do not have the luxury of maintaining a proper balanced and healthy diet. Drugs such as alcohol interfere with drug metabolism and the ability to adhere to drugs. Barriers to accessing health care in the past such as high cost and lack of availability of care made quite difficult to manage HIV/AIDS. Such health barriers led to mass infection and death of people. 

The Epidemiologic Triad 

The host in the HIV/AIDS epidemiological triad is the human body, while the agent is the HIV virus. The environment when it comes to HV/AIDS is vast and involves the society and the physical environment. Some of the host factors include pregnancy, childbirth, the urge to have sexual intercourse, ignoring the use of protection, and the need for blood transfusion, among others. These factors make the host vulnerable towards contacting the virus. The agent factors in this triad include condoms, needles, blood, and other body fluids. Blood, sex fluids, needles, and low-quality condoms, all may facilitate infection of HIV. Environmental factors include accidents, drug addiction, prostitution, and misconceptions about HIV/AIDS. Users of heroin are known to use unsterilized needles, which has led to transmission of the virus to many users. Survivors after accidents may require blood transfusion. Transfusion of infected is known to have caused infection among healthy persons in the past. Also healthy people may get infected during an accident if they in contact with the blood of infected individuals. As HIV/AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease, prostitution has been one of the major avenues of infection, especially in the past. Misconceptions about HIV/AIDS have made many people ignore it as being caused by a virus and have in turn ignored to use protection ( De Cock et al., 2012) . 

The Role of the Public Health Nurse 

The public health nurse plays a huge role in HIV/AIDS management, particularly in making records, reports, and collecting and analyzing data. The public health nurse is involved both in the primary, secondary, and tertiary stages of HIV/AIDS management and prevention. They are, therefore, required to conduct research and provide findings on the prevalence, incidence, morbidity and mortality rates with regards to the disease. The public health nurse makes records of all people diagnosed with the disease in a represented area, the new cases, rates of infection and death among other parameters. All data is collected and analyzed to determine various parameters with regard to the disease. With such analysis it is possible to determine whether treatment is working or whether fewer people are getting infected, among other scenarios. 


Basavaraj, K. H., Navya, M. A., &Rashmi, R. (2010). Quality of life in HIV/AIDS. Indian journal of sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS , 31 (2), 75. 

De Cock, K. M., Jaffe, H. W., & Curran, J. W. (2012). The evolving epidemiology of HIV/AIDS. Aids , 26 (10), 1205-1213. 

Dean, H. D., & Fenton, K. A. (2010). Addressing social determinants of health in the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted infections, and tuberculosis. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 15). Communicable Disease: HIV/AIDS.


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