The concepts of epidemiology and nursing are essential since they present evidence-based ideas for understanding the prevalence, distribution, incidence, and preventative measures for various diseases. Communicable illnesses are dangerous since they are transmitted from one person to another within a short period, thereby increasing the possibility of an epidemic. The purpose of this paper is to discuss Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS), describe the demographics of the disease, and analyze its key determinants of health. It will go further to examine the role of the public health nurse in relation to this communicable illness.
HIV/AIDS is a chronic condition that has no known cure or treatment. The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies it as one of the communicable diseases that cause the largest percentage of deaths in the world today (“Fast Facts,” n.d.).
The onset of this illness occurs when someone is infected with the causal human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This organism begins by damaging the human’s immune system, which is responsible for preventing and attacking new pathogens and infections. It will kill CD4 cells and eventually increase the chances of developing new diseases (“Fast Facts,” n.d.). After several years, the weakened immunity and the entry of opportunistic infections result in AIDS. This condition will be associated with numerous diseases that thrive in the weakened body, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and cancer.
Transmission and Symptoms
In terms of transmission, the virus will get into a person’s body through different body fluids. Some of the common ones include breast milk, semen, blood, rectal fluids, and vaginal discharge (“Fast Facts,” n.d.). Tshililo, Mangena-Netshikweta, Nemathaga, and Maluleke (2019) go further to indicate that HIV cannot be spread through causal conduct, water, and air. The common signs and symptoms associated with this condition include recurring fever, unexplained weight loss, skin rashes, persistent or unreasonable fatigue, and night sweats (“Fast Facts,” n.d.). White lesions on the tongue or mouth and pumps might also occur. Those who develop these symptoms should receive medical attention immediately.
Treatment and Complications
There is no known or recorded treatment for HIV/AIDS. However, researchers have managed to develop various drugs that decrease the progression of the condition, thereby increasing a patient’s life expectancy. Some of the leading ones include non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), protease inhibitors (PIs), integrase inhibitors, and entry or fusion inhibitors (“Fast Facts,” n.d.). These anti-retroviral drugs amount to therapy and make it possible for the affected patients to continue pursuing their objectives. They also decrease the chances of HIV transmission from person A to B.
Complications are eventual outcomes that are associated with various diseases and make it impossible for patients to lead normal or high-quality lives. A person who has developed AIDS will record several challenges or problems in the course of his or her life. Some of the common ones include tuberculosis, cryptococcal meningitis, and toxoplasmosis (Tshililo et al., 2019). These infections are usually dangerous and can even result in early death.
There are specific cancers that people with HIV/AIDS tend to develop, such as lymphoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma. Although these conditions might be rare, they usually have increased chances of causing death. Wasting syndrome is also common, whereby patients record high or sudden weight loss. Neurological defects and kidney disease might occur in some people with this condition.
Demographics and Determinants of Health
HIV/AIDS currently affects individuals between 15 and 50 years of age. In the United States, the number of citizens living with this disease is around 1.1 million (Tshililo et al., 2019). More people continue to be infected and remain unaware of their status due to the absence of proper treatment and prevention measures. In terms of incidence, the number of people with this condition in 2018 was 37.9 million (Tshililo et al., 2019).
The prevalence rate for this disease in 2018 was recorded at 5.6 percent of the global population (“A comprehensive guide,” n.d.). When it comes to the issue of mortality, around 0.8 percent of citizens are living with HIV/AIDS. However, the rate continues to vary from one region to another. The reported mortality rate for HIV/AIDS is around 770,000 in 2018 (“A comprehensive guide,” n.d.). Similar percentages are also recorded in the United States.
The determinants of health are critical factors that policymakers and public health workers should consider when planning to address the issues associated with a given condition or disease. For HIV/AIDS, social factors and individual behaviors appear to influence the health outcomes of the greatest number of people. This is the case since HIV will be spread when people engage in unprotected sex, engage in various social malpractices, and fail to engage in personal preventative measures (“Determinants of health,” n.d.). Some social factors will dictate the progression of this disease, such as polygamy, wife inheritance, underage sexual practices, and poor sensitization processes. The absence of proper policymaking structures will reduce the number of people who have access to quality information or are informed about the dangers of this disease. Improvements in each of these determinants will deliver positive results.
The epidemiologic triad is a powerful model for understanding or examining a given disease. It links these three forces together: agent, host, and environment. In terms of the agent, HIV/AIDS is caused by a virus called HIV (Kharsany & Karim, 2016). The entry of this pathogen into the body leaves the body vulnerable due to the weakened immune system. People will be infected when they get into contact with infected bodily fluids, blood, and semen. The primary methods for getting this disease include sexual contact and sharing of needles. The origin of HIV in humans is believed to have been recorded in hunters of chimpanzees who used them for meat.
The primary host for this disease is the human body. Those who get timely drugs will reduce their chances of infecting others. Those who get into contact with infected bodily fluids will acquire the causal agent or virus. Various environmental factors dictate the development and epidemiology of this disease. For instance, some social norms will result in increased levels of infection, such as wife-sharing or inheritance and polygamy. Sex-partner change is a crucial indicator of the rate at which people develop this disease. Economic factors and risky behaviors will also be associated with this condition.
The Role of the Public Health Nurse
Public health nurses are competent individuals who focus on the health needs of different communities or regions. They should exhibit a number of traits in order to deliver positive results, such as dedication, commitment, involvement, bipartisanship, and integrity. They collaborate with one another and liaise with different stakeholders to deliver positive results (Tshililo et al., 2019). They usually remain sensitive to the existing cultural values and differences in every community. These attributes explain why they will be empowered and willing to meet the needs of HIV/AIDS patients.
As professionals in public health care, these nurses will conduct numerous researches that are guided by established ethical guidelines and practices. They will identify incidence and prevalence rates in the selected community. They will collect data from the targeted subjects and report them to the relevant authorities and policymakers (Kharsany & Karim, 2016). The next practice is to apply their expertise to analyze the collected data and make appropriate inferences. This strategy will make it easier for them to understand the problems associated with HIV in the targeted community, existing practices and social factors, available resources, and missing gaps. They will share the same information with different stakeholders for effective policy formulation.
With these strategies and actions, such public health nurses will be empowered to present powerful campaigns to educate more people about the realities of HIV/AIDS, causes, complications, preventative measures, and modes of transmission. These insights will empower citizens to protect themselves from this disease and engage in evidence-based practices. Those who have the virus will be willing to seek guidance and embrace the power of anti-HIV drugs.
With their involvement in finding, reporting, and analyzing data, such professionals will work with specific at-risk groups and provide timely support to the affected persons (Kharsany & Karim, 2016). They will go further to empower patients to lead high-quality lives.
The above discussion has identified HIV/AIDS as a common communicable disease affecting many people in different parts of the world. This illness does not have an effective treatment procedure. It is caused by a virus known as HIV that is hosted by the human body. The determinants of health are powerful tools for empowering public health nurses to understand this disease and engage in studies that can inform superior preventative and health procedures for the affected community members. They can also advocate for new policies to meet the needs of at-risk populations and infected citizens.
A comprehensive guide to HIV and AIDS. (n.d.). Web.
Determinants of health. (n.d.). Web.
Fast facts. (n.d.). Web.
Kharsany, A. B. M., & Karim, Q. A. (2016). HIV infections and AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa: Current status, challenges and opportunities. The Opens Aids Journal, 10, 10-48. Web.
Tshililo, A. R., Mangena-Netshikweta, L., Nemathaga, L. H., & Maluleke, M. (2019). Challenges of primary healthcare nurses regarding the integration of HIV and AIDS services into primary healthcare in Vhembe district of Limpopo province, South Africa. Curationis, 42(1), 1849-1854. Web.