Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) represent one of the most prevalent contagions in recent history. AIDS is a condition occasioned by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) which proceeds to weaken the immune system, resulting in the development of a myriad of opportunistic infections. HIV is transmitted chiefly during unprotected sexual contact, from mother to child, and during routine blood transfusions through contaminated blood (Journal of AIDS and HIV Treatment, 2019). Although the first clinically reported cases involved homosexual men and intravenous drug users in the United States during the early 80s, conclusive research traces its origins to a zoonotic leap from non-human primates to humans in Central Africa. HIV is now a global pandemic with far-reaching implications for society.
Percentage of the population affected by HIV
HIV is one of the most widespread diseases affecting a considerable segment of the global population. Risky sexual behavior, inadequate information about the virus and the ease of travel introduced by globalization were recently cited as possible reasons for HIV’s prevalence. HIV is now a severe public health challenge requiring global commitment to counter its spread. According to UNAIDS, 37.9 million individuals (1.2 percent of the global adult population) were living with HIV/AIDS as of 2018 (UNAIDS, 2019). This figure is not surprising given HIV’s high rate of infection within any given population and the primary reason why health pundits are projecting an exponential increase in new infections within the coming decade. Close to 1.1 million individuals (0.3 percent of the adult population) are currently infected with the HIV virus in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020).
Instances of historical outbreaks of HIV
The generally accepted axiom among epidemiologist such as Professor Haroutune Armenian is that HIV originated from the Kinshasa region of the Democratic Republic of Congo during the 1920s. Lack of documentation for sporadic cases may have hindered the collection of data surrounding the historical outbreak of HIV. Nevertheless, HIV was formally documented 1981 after it was linked to Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) and Kaposi sarcoma among homosexual men and intravenous drug users (Levin et.al, 2001). An outbreak of HIV was then reported among heterosexual couples after the discovery of the Lymphadenopathy-Associated Virus (or LAV) as a possible cause. By 1989, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated 400,000 individual had contracted the HIV virus (Dumais, 2017, p. 98). To aid the affected population, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the introduction of Combivir as the first ant-retroviral drug. In 2003, an outbreak HIV that lasted for close to 7 years was reported in Larkana district of Pakistan. But perhaps the most renowned case is the southern Indiana outbreak between 2011 and 2015 linked to needle sharing among intravenous drug users during the height of the opioid crisis.
Objectives and goals of disease control and education plan on HIV
The following are the primary objectives and goals of this disease control planned education on HIV:
- Promote the reduction of the rate of new infections by preventing transmission.
- Ensuring the process of blood transfusion is safe and untainted.
- Instituting a decline in the number of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
- Raising the public’s awareness while reducing the stigma that accompanies the disease.
- Capacity building among health practitioners to equip them with appropriate tools to manage the disease.
- Creating a conducive and enabling environment where program management is fully implemented.
- Clamoring for research on the disease in and greater focus on behavioral studies.
- Bolstering prevailing institutional frameworks.
Initiatives by government departments to mitigate the impact of HIV
Government departments have been the first line of defense in the management of HIV and in reducing the rate of new infections. They now partner to mitigate the impact of HIV through an array of activities meant to turn the tide. The Department of State (DoS) provides human resource services, funds the U.S Global Aids Coordinator and provides information technology services to aid in policy discourses on HIV management. On the other hand, the Department of Defense (DoD) is tasked with implementing federal programs which focus on the prevention, care, and treatment of HIV. The Department of Commerce (DoC) offers direct support to the President’s Plan for Emergency Relief (PEPFAR) by initiating data management initiatives and surveys to ascertain the best response plan. The Department of Labor (DoL) executes initiatives targeting prevention such as offering condoms at the workplace as an effort primarily aimed at reducing the rate of new infections. Also, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is also among the most protuberant departments in the fight against HIV. The introduction of care programs and prevention initiatives was the brainchild of the HHS with the main objective of mitigating the impact of HIV on the affected population within the United States.
Measures to reduce health risks associated with HIV
HIV is associated with numerous health risks which typically emerge in the form of opportunistic infections. These are pathogens that take advantage of an altered microbiota to thrive and afflict an individual based their compromised immunity. Common opportunistic infections that pose health risks to individual with HIV include Candidiasis, Herpes simplex virus, Cytomegalovirus, and Kaposi sarcoma (Whiteside, 2018, p. 76). Yet, several fundamental measures can be applied to reduce health risks associated with HIV.
Practicing safe sex is integral in the reduction of health risks associated with HIV. The consistent use of condoms prevents the transmission of the virus, which reduces new infections while averting a spike in the viral load in infected persons. Persons with HIV should always remember to practice safe preparation of food as one of the most effective measures in preventing the transfer of pathogens. Remaining aware of animal’s capability of spread infections to human beings is also essential. Additionally, taking extra precaution and avoiding persons suffering from diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia will dramatically reduce the chances of one contracting an opportunistic disease. HIV positive individuals should also take antiretroviral medicines to control their viral load and enabling the body to repair the damage done.
Allowing the public to recognize HIV causes AIDS and other associated health issues
In order to allow the public to acknowledge HIV as the primary pathogen responsible for AIDS, this control and education plan will introduce an elaborate awareness campaign for educational purposes. The designation of a HIV awareness day represents a crucial stage during which the community is educated regarding the transmission of HIV and its role as a causative agent. It would also provide a unique opportunity HIV testing to be conducted, an addition to an elucidation of major issues affecting a particular population. Furthermore, awareness campaigns will also be conducted on social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. This will be instrumental in spreading crucial information within the shortest time possible and through a cost-effective medium.
Measures to prevent the outbreak of HIV
Measures to prevent the outbreak of HIV are essential in managing the spread of the virus. One such measure which will be implemented through this plan is the spread of crucial information regarding the spread of HIV using brochures, pamphlets, and audiovisual material. This would allow the transfer of important knowledge key in the prevention of a HIV outbreak. School-based sex education and voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) will equip the public with integral information key in the in preventing outbreaks and intervening in the case of individuals diagnosed with the virus. Transmission can particularly be prevented through condom distribution and promotion within the community. STI screening programs will also reduce transmission and ultimately avert HIV mortality.
Additionally, avoiding unwanted pregnancies, feed substitution for HIV-infected mothers and the use of antiretroviral therapy will go a long way in managing this contemporary pandemic while preventing new outbreaks.