HIV

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According to the World Health Organization, HIV is considered as a pandemic in humans. Nonetheless, complacency regarding HIV plays a major role in the risk of HIV. Since its discovery, HIV has killed an estimated 25million people globally while the current global percentage of HIV is 0.6% of the world’s population.  Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a lentivirus (a member of the retrovirus family) that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) (Reeves & Doms, 2002). This infection causes a progressive failure of the body’s immune system a situation that allows other life threatening opportunistic infections to thrive in the body.

HIV can be diagnosed through various methods in the human body. The blood test is one of the earliest methods of diagnosis which became available in 1985. This test measures antibodies to HIV and the ability of the immune system to respond to the HIV infection. The test most commonly used in HIV diagnosis is known as ELISA. Up to date, HIV antibody test remain one of the greatest and the best method for diagnosing HIV infection in the history of medicine. The recent developments in the world of medicine have allowed similar tests to be carried out in saliva hence faster results. What generally happens is that antibodies to HIV normally develop during the first few weeks of infection. However, any test of HIV will test negative thus this period is referred to as the widow period.

HIV is transmitted through numerous ways varying in the method of contact with the infection. HIV exists at different degrees in the blood and genital secretions hence the spread of HIV occurs when these secretions come into contact with other body tissues such as the lining of the vagina, anal area, mouth and skin breaks. One of the most frequent methods of HIV transmission is through sexual intercourse. Other frequent modes of transmission are through the sharing of sharp objects between an infected and an uninfected person and from mothers to their newborns during pregnancy.

Currently, there is no available cure for HIV. Treatment of the infection involves highly active antiretroviral therapy which has proved to be a major success to infected individuals since its introduction in 1996. Apparently, there is no empirical evidence that analyzes withholding of treatment during any of the stages of HIV infection. There are numerous other medical options that HIV patients can use to suppress the effects of the infection. Modern developments in the field of medicine have seen the development of entry inhibitors that provide alternative treatment options for HIV infected people. This is in line with the fact that the progression of the infection mostly affects children more than it does in adults.

Despite the numerous success stories concerning the applicability of highly active antiretroviral therapy in fighting HIV infection, the current drug regimes are somehow incapable of completely eradicating the infection. What mainly happens is that highly active antiretroviral therapy succeeds in suppressing the HIV virus below the limit of detection of standard clinical tests. In the occurrence of withdrawal however, the HIV virus is able to bounce back with a decline in CD4+ T-Cells. Without treatment, the decline of these cells eventually leads to AIDS. However, the continued use of highly active antiretroviral therapy may lead to some sort of drug resistance with regards to the infection. The reason why this may occur is as a result of both non-adherence and non-persistence which at times becomes varied and overlapping.

According to the recent statistics by the World Health Organization and UNAIDS, HIV and AIDS has killed an estimated 25 million people since its discovery in 1981. This is despite the fact that many people today are able to access antiretroviral care and better health services. As at the end of 2009, UNAIDS estimated that 33.3 million is the total number of people living with HIV globally. This figure was an increase from the 26.2 million people found to have been living with the infection in 1999. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the world’s worst affected region by the HIV infection. According to statistics, Sub-Saharan Africa is responsible for 22.5 million people living with HIV which is a 67% of the total global population of people living with HIV.

In previous years, the HIV infection was often treated as a pandemic that could not be controlled. This is in view of the fact that most people with the infection were often treated with complete remorse and discrimination. However in recent times, the situation has dramatically changed. This is due to the recent developments in the world of medicine that has brought hope to the people living with HIV. The media has also succeeded in educating the people regarding the importance of seeking medical help during infection unlike the previous years when infected people had to suffer in silence due to fear of repulsive response from the general community.

One of the best ways of preventing HIV infection is through programmes that aim to encourage sexual abstinence as well as encouraging safer sex strategies for sexually active people. This is in line with the fact that sexual intercourse is one of the leading modes of transmission of the infection. Another prevention measure against HIV infection is through blood testing for HIV during blood transfusion. Whereas this remains a challenge mainly in third world countries due to poor health facilities, there is an overall need to check blood and blood products not only during transfusion but also carrying out universal precautions such as sterilization of needles during procedures such as piercings and scarification procedures. These precautionary measures will undoubtedly reduce HIV infection cases due to the fact that HIV has no vaccine.

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