Overview of Human Immunodeficiency Virus

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease is one of the most alarming health issues around the world, including the United States. The virus attacks the body’s immune system. Although there is currently no cure for HIV, with the assistance of competent medical professionals, people can manage their condition and minimize the symptoms. In regards to the prevalence of HIV, there are around 40 million individuals globally suffering from the disease, 2.5% of whom reside in the U.S. (Hariri & McKenna, 2020). The purpose of the following paper is to examine HIV in detail in an effort to define treatment options available to patients and management strategies deployed by clinicians.

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Contributing Factors

There is a set of behaviors and actions, which might contribute to a person contracting the virus. The World Health Organization (2021) highlights five of such risk factors. The list includes having unprotected sexual intercourse, having a different sexually transmitted infection (STI), participating in unsterile and unsafe procedures, which involve cutting, piercing, or stitching. Another contributing factor is sharing of needles during drug injections. Health workers may be at a higher risk of developing HIV due to accidents in needle injections that might injury them. These are the primary factors contributing to HIV contraction and spread. Furthermore, it is crucial to recognize that kissing, using the same towels, hugging, or sharing food are not on the list of such factors. It is safe for the public to interact with HIV-infected people in such ways.

Prevention Strategies

Prevention is exceptionally important in relation to HIV since it has become one of the deadliest viruses worldwide. HIV can quickly turn into Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, commonly known as AIDS. The main framework of the United States’ preventative approach is to minimize the population’s exposure to the aforementioned risk factors. The World Health Organization (2021) identifies “the use of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs)” and “harm reduction for people who inject and use drugs” as some of the most effective methods for HIV prevention (para. 8). Some of the primary strategies are raising awareness about condom use, providing affordable STI and STD testing, as well as educational panels on HIV at schools and local community centers.

Signs and Symptoms

There are a variety of symptoms associated with HIV, which might depend on the stage of the infection. During the first weeks after contracting HIV, people usually experience none of the symptoms, with the rare exception of flu-like symptoms, such as fever, muscle soreness, headache, and so on (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2021). However, once the disease starts to progress by attacking the person’s immune system, the body’s response to the external environment weakens. As a result, throughout the months following the initial infection, tiredness, extreme weight loss, cough, sore throat become more common in patients. If not treated properly and immediately, HIV might lead to pneumonia, tuberculosis, toxoplasmosis, or cryptococcal meningitis.

Diagnostic Tests

As for diagnostic tests, the main goal is to ensure early diagnosis in order for less of the population to develop AIDS or other serious conditions that can be potentially deadly. Medical staff can provide patients with rapid test for same-day results. People can administrate self-testing as well, although it might not be as reliable. The World Health Organization (2021) reports that “following a positive diagnosis, people should be retested before they are enrolled in treatment and care to rule out any potential testing or reporting error” (para. 11). Diagnostic testing might differ for infants born to mothers suffering from HIV. In such cases, serological and virological testing is required.

Advanced Practice Nursing Role and Management Strategies

Nurses play an essential role in patient care and education. In regards to HIV, in particular, the role of the nursing practitioner involves informing the patient of the primary facts about HIV, supporting them throughout treatment, and overseeing adherence to the predetermined care plan. The key management strategies associated with HIV include preventing further HIV transmission, maximizing the quality of life in patients with HIV, and preserving the functions of the immune system as much as possible.

Medical/Pharmacological Management and Follow-up Care

The focus of HIV treatment lies in the implementation of pharmacological strategies, which should focus on maximizing the effectiveness of the antiretroviral therapy (ART). In the early treatment stages, medical professionals have to oversee that the patient is taking a certain dosage of drugs daily (National Institute of Health (NIH), 2021). Despite the help medicines can provide, their role is mostly to prevent disease progression and ensure the quality of survival for those suffering from HIV remains high. Thus, pharmacological strategies have to be deployed in combination with general management approaches. They might include educating a patient on the importance of a well-balanced diet and exercise or assisting them in navigating HIV treatment, while battling other conditions. As for follow-up care, for HIV cases, it might imply weekly or monthly physical and mental examinations, regular testing, and consultations focused specifically on drug resistance.

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In conclusion, HIV is a serious health condition affecting millions of people all over the world. If diagnosed early, the disease is manageable with the assistance of medical professionals integrating pharmacological and management strategies into the most effective and well-suited care plan. Preventing HIV from spreading in the population and progressing internally is a massive concern for the U.S. authorities. Although HIV is non-curable, prescribed medications, a healthy regimen, and follow-up examinations maximize the chance of HIV patients living a long life.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (20211). About HIV. Web.

Hariri, S., & McKenna, M. T. (2020). Epidemiology of human immunodeficiency virus in the United States. Clinical Microbiology Reviews, 20(3), 478–488. Web.

National Institute of Health. (2021). HIV treatment: The basics. Web.

World Health Organization. (2021). HIV/AIDS. Web.

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NursingBird. (2022, November 18). Overview of Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Retrieved from https://nursingbird.com/overview-of-human-immunodeficiency-virus/


NursingBird. (2022, November 18). Overview of Human Immunodeficiency Virus. https://nursingbird.com/overview-of-human-immunodeficiency-virus/

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"Overview of Human Immunodeficiency Virus." NursingBird, 18 Nov. 2022, nursingbird.com/overview-of-human-immunodeficiency-virus/.


NursingBird. (2022) 'Overview of Human Immunodeficiency Virus'. 18 November.


NursingBird. 2022. "Overview of Human Immunodeficiency Virus." November 18, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/overview-of-human-immunodeficiency-virus/.

1. NursingBird. "Overview of Human Immunodeficiency Virus." November 18, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/overview-of-human-immunodeficiency-virus/.


NursingBird. "Overview of Human Immunodeficiency Virus." November 18, 2022. https://nursingbird.com/overview-of-human-immunodeficiency-virus/.