Epidemiology: Human Immunodeficiency Virus

HIV: Disease Description

With its long incubation period, huge death tolls, and the absence of opportunities for a complete recovery, HIV has warranted the title of the plague of our times (Vijayan, Karthigeyan, Tripathi, & Hanna, 2017). The disease has become notorious for its deadliness, yet the social stigma that follows it has even greater notoriety. HIV itself is a virus that leads to the development of immunodeficiency and the following contraction of a number of diseases that eventually lead to a fatal outcome unless addressed with a number of medications. Because of the rapid attack of several opportunistic infections and cancerous diseases, fighting HIV becomes incredibly difficult, although not impossible.

HIV affects CD4 cells, or T cells, which serve to protect the human body from infections (Vijayan et al., 2017). As a result, one starts contracting infectious diseases, including infection-related cancers, such as Kaposi’s sarcoma (Vijayan et al., 2017). Despite the time, efforts, and resources spent on research, HIV remains an untreatable disease, yet recent discoveries allow hoping that HIV may finally be managed (Vijayan et al., 2017).

HIV has three essential stages of development, i.e., acute HIV infection (stage 1), clinical latency (stage 2), and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) (stage 3). The latter can be described as an irreversible process of immune system deterioration that ends in a patient’ death (Vijayan et al., 2017). Although several medications can be used to control the progression from one stage to another, curing the virus completely is impossible at present.

Tracking down the history of the virus, one will have to mention the fact that chimpanzee are currently viewed as the most likely suspects. The virus is considered to have affected people as early as in the late 1800s, yet it was no until the 1980s that the disease started to gain a global scale (Vijayan et al., 2017). At present, the development of the disease is controlled, yet the absence of a cure against HIV/AIDS makes HIV one of the most dreaded and unmanageable diseases.

Determinants of Health and HIV Development

When considering the factors that determine the possibility of remaining HIV-negative, one must mention the avoidance of certain types of behaviors as the primary step toward preventing the contraction of HIV (Knight, Shoveller, Carson, & Contreras-Whitney, 2014). Particularly, careless attitude toward protection during sex is typically listed among the primary factors that contribute to the increase in the threat of HIV. However, the health determinants that affect the contraction of HIV are not limited to social factors and particularly sexual behavior.

Being the victim of sexual abuse can also be viewed as one of the health determinants of HIV since the identified health concern may be acquired during sexual abuse as well (Knight et al., 2014). Furthermore, because of the victim’s lack of control over the situation, the possibility of HIV contraction increases exponentially. Particularly, one must mention the lack of choice and the inability to affect the situation, as well as the decisions made by an abuser as the key determinant of HIV development.

Cultural and environmental issues should also be deemed as important factors in the process of protecting oneself against HIV. For example, living in an impoverished community where the lack of healthcare has become common should be regarded as one of the primary factors leading to the contraction of HIV. In the specified case, economic factors are closely intertwined with social ones since the absence of financial resources prevents one from obtaining proper education and, thus, learning how to avoid HIV contraction (Knight et al., 2014). Thus, the cycle becomes complete.

Finally, one should mention social determinants of health as an important factor in the progress of HIV. In the environment that does not encourage the active promotion of health, the possibility of developing the disease becomes increasingly big (Knight et al., 2014). Therefore, the culture and the attitude toward HIV define the success of its prevention and management in patients. For this reason, one must encourage the active development of health awareness campaigns. Contributing to a steep rise in target populations’ knowledge about the health concern in question, health awareness programs help shape the behavior of vulnerable populations, thus, leading to a drop in the levels of HIV contraction.

HIV: Epidemiologic Triangle

The concept of the epidemiologic triangle allows identifying and analyzing the connection between key agents in the context of a particular disease (Carnes, Malone, & Helms, 2017). The specified framework is especially important to adopt when addressing lethal diseases such as HIV since it helps explore every opportunity for managing the problem. As a rule, the epidemiologic triangle allows locating the effects that the environment and the agent have on the well-being of the host. To be more specific, the setting and key factors contributing to the enhancement of HIV are scrutinized from the perspective of the impact that they have on HIV patients (Carnes et al., 2017). As shown in Figure 1, the lack of awareness plays a crucial role in the spread of the disease.

HIV: Epidemiological Triangle.
Figure 1. HIV: Epidemiological Triangle.

As Figure 1 provided above shows, there is a direct connection between the economic factors and the development of HIV in community members. The lack of financial and economic opportunities prevent people from receiving proper education and, thus, gaining sufficient knowledge for preventing the contraction of HIV and the subsequent threat of AIDS development. As a result, people are exposed to the threat of developing the disease.

Furthermore, the absence of economic opportunities reduces the chances to receive proper healthcare services, including testing for HIV. Consequently, most people with HIV/AIDS ate likely to be blatantly unaware of their problem until it aggravates to the point where no further medical assistance becomes possible (Carnes et al., 2017). Therefore, the issue of poverty and the lack of awareness can be deemed as primary factors preventing from managing the threat of HIV.

The inaccessibility of appropriate healthcare services can also be regarded as one of the factors contributing to the increase in the threat of HIV contraction (Carnes et al., 2017). For instance, remote communities have little to no chances to obtain the required help. The absence of healthcare facilities and communication tools that could be used to address the problem aggravate the issue, thus, making the management of the problem nearly impossible.

In addition, one must keep in mind patient-specific characteristics that may impede the process of managing HIV Patients’ needs. For instance, even with the adoption of the antiretroviral therapy, one may fail to prevent the further rise in the effects of HIV due to the resistance toward antiretroviral drugs that a patient may display. Therefore, the identification of the unique properties and characteristics of target populations should be the priority of a nurse when addressing the problem of HIV in a particular community.

Role of the Community Health Nurse

Since unprotected sex and needle sharing can be viewed as primary risk factors, it is crucial for a community nurse to engage in the active process of patient education by promoting sensible sex behaviors and addressing the issue of drug abuse (Carnes et al., 2017). Moreover, it is essential for a nurse to focus on the risk factors associated with economic, financial, technological, and sociocultural characteristics of communities. For instance, it is imperative for a nurse to ensure that residents of remote areas could have the access to healthcare resources and essential information. For this purpose, the active use of social networks should be deemed as a necessity.

The adoption of the specified tool will allow a nurse to maintain liaison with residents of remote areas and encourage them to acquire crucial knowledge and skills. The financial issue, in turn, will have to be addressed by focusing on the enhancement of the projects that will encourage external funding. The identified step will allow providing people from impoverished communities with the services and tools needed to enhance patient education and reduce the levels of HIV contraction within risk areas.

The development and support of nurse-led facilities should also be viewed as one of the steps that a community nurse can take in order to manage the problem of HIV in the context of the modern environment. Particularly, a community nurse should encourage staff operating in the context of a nurse-led clinic to acquire new skills and knowledge that will help them determine the needs of patients.

For instance, the adoption of techniques and strategies that are more advanced when prescribing antiretroviral drugs to patients can be regarded as a significant improvement in the current approach toward managing the needs of people that are under the risk of contracting HIV (Carnes et al., 2017). In addition, the proposed solution must affect patients’ willingness to acquire the necessary knowledge and develop the behaviors that will enhance their safety from HIV.

Therefore, educational goals should be deemed as the primary area of concern for a community nurse when it comes to managing the rise in the levels of HIV. Furthermore, a nurse must keep the focus on communication to be able to reach out to remote communities. Finally, one must address the problems of communication associated with the steep rise in the levels of cultural diversity in modern communities. On the one hand, the increase in the levels of multiculturalism is a positive phenomenon that helps introduce an open dialogue and embrace as vast a range of people as possible. On the other hand, high diversity levels require significant knowledge of an array of cultures and their specifics from a nurse to ensure that no misunderstandings could occur in the process (Carnes et al., 2017).

Therefore, a nurse must develop the ability to learn unceasingly and deploy newly adopted skills to resolve issues linked to prejudices, misunderstandings, cross-cultural conflicts, and other problems that prevent diverse population form communicating with nurses and acquiring crucial knowledge and skills. The focus on communication and knowledge acquisition can be retained by utilizing the latest communication tools such as social networks.

Organization Addressing HIV

There is a range of organizations helping meet the needs of populations that are vulnerable to HIV. The Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (ANAC) is, perhaps, the most widely known one (Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, 2018). The organization focuses on providing support to HIV patients, as well as people that face the threat of contracting HIV (Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, 2018).

When considering the characteristics that make the specified organization especially important for the management of HIV on a statewide scale, one must point to the vast opportunities for teaching out to remote communities that the specified organization provides. ANAC offers tools and strategies for enforcing interdisciplinary collaboration between nursing experts, which helps manage the problem of awareness and resources availability more efficiently. Particularly, a recent report issued by ANAC states the following: “In 2016, ANAC convened a group of nurses and organizations involved in the global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic to articulate successes and challenges faced by nurses globally” (Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, 2016).

The enhancement of cooperation between ANAC and other organizations that focus on addressing the needs of HIV patients and vulnerable groups is bound to have a massively positive effect. Apart from providing people with the required resources, including medicine, information, and support, the organizations will boost the speed of research currently conducted to identify more efficient HIV treatment options.

Global Implication of HIV

Similarly to any other incurable disease, HIV has tremendous implications on the levels of well-being among the global community members. The disease affects people’s lives drastically by reducing the quality thereof and increasing mortality rates immensely. Seeing that there is currently no cure against HIV, the disease affects community members directly by jeopardizing not only patients’ lives but also the lives of their partners.

Furthermore, HIV has a direct impact on the economic well-being of people worldwide. Because of the restricted number of physical challenges that people with HIV can manage, the performance of companies in affected communities drops significantly. The resulting reduction in the overall economic efficacy leads to a drop in the quality of healthcare services and, consequently, the opportunities for vulnerable populations to receive the required nursing and healthcare services.

In addition, the rise in the levels of HIV affects the way in which patients are viewed by the members of the global community, as well as how the disease is perceived. Since HIV belongs to the class of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), ti is very easy to moralize it and, therefore, stigmatize vulnerable populations that face the threat of HIV development. As a result, a significant number of people are reluctant to test for HIV, take precaution measures to avoid its contraction, etc. In addition, the stigma of HIV hinders the promotion of awareness among healthy people. Viewing the disease as a sign of sexual deviance and licentiousness, people tend to ostracize HIV patients (Piercy, Bell, Hughes, Naylor, & Bowman, 2017).

As a result, the rift between HIV patients and the rest of the society increases exponentially. Therefore, it is the duty of a community nurse to build awareness and promote the further dialogue between the people affected by HIV and the rest of the population. Knowledge sharing, understanding, tolerance, and compromise will serve as the building blocks of improving the quality of care for HIV patients all over the world.

References

Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. (2016). 2016 annual report. Web.

Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. (2018). Mission and vision. Web.

Carnes, N. A., Malone, J., & Helms, J. (2017). HIV prevention: Treatment as prevention (TasP), occupational postexposure prophylaxis (oPEP), nonoccupational postexposure prophylaxis (nPEP), and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). In HIV/AIDS in rural communities (pp. 59-71). New York, NY: Springer.

Knight, R. E., Shoveller, J. A., Carson, A. M., & Contreras-Whitney, J. G. (2014). Examining clinicians’ experiences providing sexual health services for LGBTQ youth: Considering social and structural determinants of health in clinical practice. Health Education Research, 29(4), 662-670.

Piercy, H., Bell, G., Hughes, C., Naylor, S., & Bowman, C. A. (2017). How does specialist nursing contribute to HIV service delivery across England? International journal of STD & AIDS, 28(8), 808-813.

Vidya Vijayan, K. K., Karthigeyan, K. P., Tripathi, S. P., & Hanna, L. E. (2017). Pathophysiology of CD4+ T-cell depletion in HIV-1 and HIV-2 infections. Frontiers in immunology, 8(580), 1-8.