Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases


Epidemiology & Communicable Diseases HIV or the Human Deficiency virus is like other viruses including the flu, but the one thing that makes this virus so different than any other is that the body is unable to clear this one out completely. Once someone is infected, there is no cure. Over time, HIV can also hide or mask itself in the body’s cells. The cells within a person’s body that fght off infection are called CD4 cells or T cells. HIV attacks these cells and copies or replicates itself inside these cells, then destroys them.

HIV over time will estroy so many of these cells that the body is unable to fght off infection anymore. When this starts happening, AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome happens which is the final stage of HIV. HIV is transmitted through someone’s blood or bodily fluids which can encompass semen, breast milk, vaginal fluids, and rectal mucous (AIDS.

GOV, 2013) and usually it is passed from one person to another through sexual contact; however, HIV can also be transmitted through childbirth or IV drug use. Healthcare workers are also at risk from infected bodily fluids.

Fluids from an nfected person can deliver the virus to someone else’s bloodstream. Within 2-4 weeks, and up to as late as 3 months, exposure to HIV can happen with a sudden onset of flu like symptoms including fever, chills, rash, night sweats, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes or ulcers in the mouth (CDC, 2013). Sometimes no signs or symptoms of infection are present in someone with HIV. Certain individuals may feel sick as HIV turns into AIDS or have occasional bouts of sickness, but not really know or feel they are infected.

When HIV progresses to HIV, he flu like sign and symptoms mentioned earlier can become far more severe. Many of the complications stemming from HIV are opportunistic infections, which happen in patients with a weakened immune system (CDC, 2013). “Some of these opportunistic infections include tuberculosis, salmonellosis, cytomeglaovirus, candidiasis, cryptococcal meningitis, toxoplasmosis, cryptosporiosis, Wasting Syndrome, neurological problems, and kidney disease (Mayo Clinic, 2013). Specific skin cancers including Kaposi’s Sarcoma and lymphomas also happen in patients who are HIV positive” (Mayo Clinic, 2013).

Antivirals are the treatment for HIV and presently there is no known cure. Treatment most often involves combinations of different drugs to avoid creating strains of the virus that are immune to single drug treatments (Mayo Clinic, 2013). The number of CD4 or T cells monitors treatment response. The viral load should be undetectable while undergoing antiviral therapy. The count is checked when treatment starts and usually monitored every 3-6 months. Even if someone has an undetectable viral load, the spreading of HIV is still a possibility.

According to estimates and numbers provided by the CDC, about one and half million people 13 years of age and younger is HIV positive. Demographics also show that almost 20% of people who are infected do not know they have the virus. The CDC estimates that now every year, there are about 50,000 new cases diagnosed (2013). At risk groups include gay men, bisexual people, and African Americans (CDC, ) Young Atrican American males are at greatest risk tor contracting HIV among various ethnicities and races (CDC, 2013).

An individual’s risk for HIV or social determinants of health related to HIV is income, education, geographic region, overty, gender orientation, early childhood experiences, and alcohol or substance abuse. The CDC states, “that by reducing the number od new HIV infections and improving the health and well-being of those already infected with HIV depends on changing the social determinants that place people at risk of infection” (CDC, 2-13). The epidemiological triangle of HIV consists of three things: the person, the causative agent, or the environment (Smith, 169).

The causative agent that causes AIDS is HIV or the virus itself. The host is a person in the case of HIV and the environment is the either the host or the agent, but a factor that influences interaction between the two. The epidemiological triangle consists of three things: the person, the causative agent, or the environment (Smith, 169). In the triangle for HIV, the agent that causes AIDS is HIV or the virus. The host is a person in the case of HIV. The environment is neither the host nor the agent, but something that influences interaction between the two (Smith, 169).

The host factors for HIV include age, sex, ethnic background, race, sexual orientation, education, and economic status (Smith, 169). The agent actors or causative agent for HIV are the virus itself and the mode of transmission, life cycle and virulence of the virus (Smith, 169). The environmental factors for HIV include social and economic considerations including family, community, political organization, public policy, regulations, institutions, workplace, occupation, economic status, technology, mobility, housing population density, attitudes, customs, culture, health practices, health services (Smith 169-170).

A community health nurse with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS would work in a community or public health setting, educating t risk groups about safe sex practices and the dangers of sharing needles. Ideally, the nurse would connect patients to support groups and services, teach patients or people in the community about the prevention of the spreading of the disease, and help administer treatments and medications. Some important issues that nurses are bringing to the forefront in todays world include implementing strategies to keep HIV patients engaged in routine HIV medical and nursing care, incorporating prevention research findings to help reduce transmission locally and globally, carrying out outine HIV testing in health care settings, ensuring access to antiretroviral drugs, and preparing for emerging issues in HIV care such as diabetes, liver disease, obesity and elder care” (Kirton, 2007, p. 8). The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a national organization that channels a portion of its funds to the international financing for he fght against HIV and AIDS. It also gives funds to strengthening health systems, as most are inadequate to educate and inform communities and people about the prevention of HIV. Programs supported by the Global Fund give to communities with lifesaving ntiviral therapies and counseling on the prevention of the virus.

There is also a local organization called AFAN or Aid for Aids of Nevada that provides support and advocacy for HIV positive people or people who are dealing with HIV in Nevada. “AFAN provides direct client service programs, food programs, prevention and education programs, and community outreach. It is the mission of our client service programs to enhance the physical health and psychosocial wellness ot the individuals we serve, while promoting their dignity and improving the quality of their lives” (AFAN, 2013).







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