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The paper will discuss acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), its infectious agent, reservoirs, portals of entry and exit, susceptible host, and the ways of transmission. AIDS is a terrible disease that takes lives of many people every year. Despite all the efforts of medical scientists and doctors, the cure for it has not been found yet. Currently, people get infected because of the ignorance about the illness and the ways of its prevention. For this reason, individuals should be more informed about AIDS to avoid it.
The Chain of the Infection
The infectious agent of AIDS is a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that weakens the immune systems, so it cannot fight different germs. HIV belongs to retroviruses. Currently, there are four types of it. HIV 1 is the most widespread virus that attacks thousands of people every year. HIV 2 covers the regions of Western Africa. HIV 3 and HIV 4 are rather rare that do not cause epidemics. According to the medical researches, all people are susceptible to HIV to the same extent. As a rule, persons over the age of 35 experience an accelerated development of the infection. A carrier of HIV is an infected individual in any stage of the disease, including the incubation period (“The rise of HIV/AIDS,” n. d.). The viral reservoirs comprise different cells, including immune ones, lymphatic and intestinal tissues, tonsils, gut lining, a central nervous system, thymus, and a genital tract (Iglesias-Ussel & Romero, 2011).
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According to the statistics provided by the World Health Organization, about 35 million people were infected with HIV and AIDS in 2013. 10% of their quantity was children. Unfortunately, a lot of infected individuals are ignorant of the disease. Therefore, they continue spreading the virus and infecting new persons. About 2 million of new people become HIV-positive every year (“HIV/AIDS,” 2014).
Persons get HIV through a direct contact. The transmission of the virus requires the source of the infection, a susceptible subject, and the certain conditions. HIV infection begins when the infected biological fluid getting into a healthy body. Therefore, the biological fluid like blood, breast milk, vulval discharge, and semen is a portal of exit of the infectious agent. The portal of entry shows the way a person catches the virus. It can enter a body through the mucous membranes of a mouth, penis, straight intestine, vagina, and cuts. HIV is transmitted through the contact with infected fluids or blood. A person cannot get the virus through the air. Therefore, if an ill individual breathes, sneezes or coughs, he or she does not transmit the infectious agent. The most frequent way of HIV transmission is through unprotected sex. According to the statistics, 86 % of cases of the infection occur through the sexual contact. Moreover, the injection of narcotics via non-sterile syringes is one more way of HIV infection. Every year, a lot of drug addicts get infected because of syringes that contain a drop of blood of a previous user. Besides, a pregnant woman can transmit HIV during the child bearing or delivery. The probability of the infection of a kid is about 10-20 percent. Sometimes the child can infect a mother breastfeeding him or her. Such situation happens when the kid was born by a healthy woman and later was infected with HIV. Moreover, unprofessional tattooing, manicure, pedicure, and piercing can result in HIV infection too. Therefore, it is extremely important to choose professional parlors that have a license for the delivery of services. Furthermore, the infectious agent can get into a body through the transfusion of infected blood. Currently, the quantity of such cases has reduced significantly. As a rule, such a way of infection exists in low developed countries that have no opportunities for the blood checking. The transplantation of infected organs and tissues can lead to the HIV infection as well. However, these cases are very rare. Sometimes, medical workers can get the virus if the blood of an infected person gets into the eyes or a nose. Besides, they can injure themselves unintentionally with infected syringes (Sheth & Thorndycraft, 2009).
The domestic infection is unproven. It is impossible to get infected through touches, hugs, insect stings, the use of a public swimming pool, and toilet. Moreover, shared things cannot become a cause of the infection. Still, there is some risk of getting infected by using razors and toothbrushes of an ill person. Sometimes, they can cut skin and gums causing a minor bleeding. HIV is a very unstable virus that is sensitive to the temperature increase and dies at the temperature of 70-80 degrees. Therefore, the dried blood and other secretions of an ill person are not dangerous (“HIV transmission,” n. d.).
As a rule, HIV infection does not have evident signs and symptoms. Therefore, the person should undergo the CD4 count and viral load tests to find out whether he or she has the disease. The CD4 count shows the quantity of HIV antibodies. Unfortunately, these ones appear only after several weeks after the infection. Consequently, there is no sense in the tests earlier than a month from the moment of infection. From time to time, an infected person may have symptoms that resemble the flu. They include fever, headache, chills, and lymphatitis. The genital fungal and oral fungal infections as well as herpes start appearing when the disease develops (“The stages of HIV disease,” 2008).
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Doctors identify four stages of the infection. The incubation period can last from 3-4 weeks to several months from the moment of getting infected to the reaction of a body that starts producing HIV antibodies. At this stage, a person may experience symptoms similar to the flu. The clinically asymptomatic period can last for ten years. During this time, the virus slowly ruins the immune system. As a rule, within this period, the ill person feels well and continues leading a normal life. The symptomatic HIV infection stage begins when the body fails to produce new CD4 cells quickly enough. HIV kills them very fast; thus, the viral load grows significantly. It is important to begin treatment immediately. The proper care reduces the activity of HIV. If the person fails to begin treatment on time, then the symptoms of the infection keep progressing. These ones include swollen lymph glands, skin rashes, headaches, and mouth ulcers. The fourth stage is the progression from HIV to AIDS. At this stage, opportunistic infections and cancer start to attack and damage the body due to the vulnerable immune system. Doctors diagnose AIDS when the CD4 count is fewer than 200 cells per mm3. If the person has such a disease, there is still a possibility for a good life. The antiretroviral therapy can extend the lifetime and give an opportunity to live for two more decades (“The stages of HIV disease,” 2008).
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The paper will focus on the ways of prevention of HIV and AIDS spread. Nowadays, these diseases have become a catastrophe for the whole mankind. The situation is becoming more and more critical. If people do not stop the spread of HIV and AIDS, the epidemic may begin. Consequently, some measures should be taken to break a chain of this infection and prevent contagion for the illness.
One of the best ways to stop its spread is to educate people. It is necessary to provide the right sex knowledge and information for individuals not to catch the virus. The sex education should comprise the data about different ways of contraception and the consequences of unprotected sex (“HIV prevention – Reducing the risks of HIV transmission,” 2014).
Confidential HIV tests also play an important role in preventing the infection. If a person suspects the disease, he or she should take a test to prove or disprove the surmises. If the check does not show HIV, the individual will calm down and continue leading a normal life. If the test reveals the infection, the one will have a chance to start the treatment as soon as possible. In this case, he or she will be able to inform the partner about HIV and prevent him or her from getting infected (“HIV prevention – Reducing the risks of HIV transmission,” 2014).
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Moreover, the treatment for sexually transmitted diseases like herpes, gonorrhea, hepatitis, scabies, syphilis, and thrush is one more way to prevent HIV. Therefore, a nurse should explain a person that if he or she has one of these illnesses, there is a higher risk to catch the virus (“HIV prevention – Reducing the risks of HIV transmission,” 2014).
Furthermore, blood transfusion and injections can lead to HIV as well. As a rule, such a situation occurs in low developed countries. Therefore, it is necessary to give facilities to all medical establishments to test blood donors. Then, it is vital to provide all hospitals with resources to make injection safer (“HIV prevention – Reducing the risks of HIV transmission,” 2014).
It is a well-known fact that a lot of people get infected because of the needle sharing. Nowadays, the society tries to cope with this problem. Therefore, needle and syringe programs have been introduced. Their main aims are to provide information about safer drug taking and give free syringes to drug addicts. In such a way, the programs help to reduce the spread of HIV and save a lot of lives. Unfortunately, the programs are not popular throughout the world. Therefore, all the countries should introduce needle and syringe activities to reduce the incidence of HIV (“HIV prevention – Reducing the risks of HIV transmission,” 2014).
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A mother-to-child transmission of HIV is one more factor of the spread of this disease. Nurses should explain pregnant women all the options of the kid’s protection from getting infected. First of all, a prospective mother should be tested for HIV. If the test result is positive, a nurse should recommend a course of treatment that increases the chances of her baby to be healthy and HIV-negative. Moreover, after the delivery of the kid, it is important to test him or her for this infection as well. If the child is HIV-positive, the nurse should provide the information about breastfeeding and the necessity of early treatment. Then, the medical practitioner should give pieces of advice about caring for such a baby. Moral support is vital too. The mother should know that her child has all the opportunities for a normal and happy life (“HIV prevention – Reducing the risks of HIV transmission,” 2014).
Antiretroviral treatment is one more way to stop HIV. The nurse should explain a patient that the adherence to treatment decreases the viral load and extends the lifespan. If the person agrees to start treatment, the nurse should conduct a clinical assessment. Then, the nursing practitioner should recommend HIV drugs that are the most suitable for the particular individual. Adherence is a crucial factor for a successful care. Therefore, the task of any nurse is to consult the patient about food restrictions, preferable lifestyle, and the quantity of medication the person should take. Besides, the nurse should specify the date for different tests to check the viral load (“HIV treatment: The basics,” 2015). Moreover, the medical assistant should warn the patient of side effects of the medicine. As a rule, they may be mild and include nausea, lipodystrophy, rash, diarrhea, and lipid abnormalities. If the person cannot endure side effects, it is necessary to change the medicine and choose another one (“Side effects of HIV medicines,” 2014). Then, antiviral care can include pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis treatments. Pre-exposure prophylaxis treatment is rather effective against the virus. It is started before the probable danger of HIV infection. If one of the partners is HIV-positive, the second one should start the care in order to stay HIV-negative (“HIV prevention – Reducing the risks of HIV transmission,” 2014). Post-exposure prophylaxis treatment can protect the individual from the possible infection. If the one suspects the infection, it is necessary to start post-exposure prophylaxis care. This treatment does not allow HIV to be established in the body. Unfortunately, it does not ensure 100 percent effectiveness (“HIV prevention – Reducing the risks of HIV transmission,” 2014).
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To summarize, there are a lot of ways to prevent and stop HIV and AIDS. Therefore, people should be responsible and take some precautions to break the spread of the disease. In fact, information about HIV and AIDS can save thousands of lives. If people are aware of the disease, there is a higher possibility that they will not get infected.