HIV/AIDS is a viral disease that causes a breakdown of the body’s immune system leading to other opportunistic infections. It is transmitted in blood, breast milk, vaginal fluids, and semen and is commonly spread through unprotected sex and sharing of syringes and needles with infected people. Infected mothers can also pass the virus to their babies during birth or from breastfeeding (World Health Organization, WHO 2006). However, the virus is not transmitted by simple contact, for instance, hugging, kissing, or sharing of food utensils.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC estimates that more than 1.3 million people aged 13 years and above are living with the HIV virus in the United States. Moreover, 20.1 percent of the infected people are unaware that they are suffering from the disease (CDC, 2014). Further, the CDC estimates that more than 40,000 men and women become infected annually though new infection rates have remained steady over the decade. In the United States alone, more than 1.15 million people have been diagnosed with AIDS (Schwartländer et al., 2011). In African countries, young women are at greater risk of infection with prevalence in the ages of 15-24 being 16.9 percent. This is fueled by violence against women, poverty, and cultural practices that promote intergenerational sex.
HIV/AIDS was first noted in 1981 when mysterious cases of enlarged lymph nodes among gay men were reported by physicians in New York City. More cases followed involving Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, a rare disease that is found in patients with severely suppressed immunity. Moreover, there were other cases of rare lung infections characterized by weakened immune system. Samples of HIV’s genetic code were used to trace its origin to 1920s Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo due to contact with blood while handling bush meat. Though contained, the disease spread rapidly due to railway construction, whereby men outnumbered women leading to the sex trade. Moreover, travels to other parts of the world and population increase lead to more cases of HIV. A major outbreak occurred in central Africa in 1983 among both men and women. During the same year, AIDS cases were reported in 33 countries in the world while in the United States, 2807 cases were reported with deaths amounting to 2118 (CDC, 2014)
The United States government, through the Division for HIV/AIDS Prevention, DHAP has been involved in providing leadership and support for surveillance, prevention, and evaluation of evidence-based interventions to serve the affected people and those at risk of potential infection. Moreover, proper use of safety devices and barriers to prevent HIV exposure to the health care workers have also been recommended by the CDC, (2014). Further antiretroviral drugs are freely distributed to the infected people to contain the disease.
In the healthcare sector, workers are advised to assume that blood and other body fluids are subject to potential infection; thus they should use gloves, wash hands after contact with blood and fluids. Moreover, safety devices have been developed to prevent needle-stick injuries. Further, used syringes and other sharp instruments are disposed of properly to prevent accidental infections. The most crucial strategy for mitigating the risk of HIV transmission is prevention of any exposures, such as use of condoms and non-recycling of syringes and needles (WHO, 2006).
Objectives and goal set to control the disease include; reduction of new HIV infections, improvement of the health outcomes, such as HIV-related morbidity and mortality, and reduction in disparities in HIV incidence and health outcomes. Other objectives are; increasing the percentage of people living with HIV who know their serostatus to 90 percent, and decreasing the rate of perinatally acquired pediatric HIV vases by 25 percent. Such objectives were set to advance the goals, which include; increasing knowledge of the disease, reducing transmission and infection risk, increasing sustained engagement in medical care and treatment as well as increasing HIV viral suppression (CDC, 2014). Offer protection from discrimination to people living with the virus as well as provide counselling for the affected and infected.
The government took an initiative to prevent the acquisition and transmission of new HIV/AIDS infections as well as reduction in the spread of the disease and its impact by closely examining the proportion of people living with HIV in the individual stages of the HIV care continuum. This assisted in pinpointing the gaps existent in connecting people living with the disease to sustained, quality care. Through gap identification and improvement implementation, the government increases the proportion of people living with HIV who are on ARTs and are able to achieve the viral load suppression. Such initiative allows the infected people to live longer and healthy with reduced chances of infecting other people. Government agencies, such as the NIH, CDC, DoD, FDA, and the USAID are charged with improving and protecting the public health through vaccine research and development and distribution. A HIV vaccine has not yet been invented though pre-exposure prophylaxis is used for prevention in people with high risk of getting HIV.
To reduce health risks, joint planning should be strengthened to levels where activities are strategic and aligned with the federal and state governments as well as departmental priorities. Moreover, the initiative should seek to reinforce efforts in sharing and applying research knowledge to policy and practice in the advancement of public health action (Schwartländer et al., 2011). Further, initiative partners should advance monitoring activities against work plans and develop adjustments based on learnings. The plan to mitigate the virus spread would work to ensure non-discrimination against the infected, recognition of gender equality as well as promotion of social dialogue to ensure cooperation and trust with the infected.
To ensure that the public recognize pathogens are related to the cause of diseases, awareness should be created. The plan would ensure that the public get the necessary education on pathogens, causes and prevention of diseases. Moreover, the plan would ensure that all children under the age of five are vaccinated against diseases, drinking water is treated all the time to kill any pathogens that may be present. Further, all sewerage would be treated and disposed of safely in addition to ensuring food safety programs through inspections and regulation (Schwartländer et al., 2011). Signs and symptoms to watch out for in HIV are fever, sore throat, fatigue, swollen glands, and rash, headache, and muscle pains.
The measures to ensure that HIV/AIDS is combated are behavioral, biomedical, and structural. The behavioral measures include; sex education, safe infant feeding guidelines, psycho-social support, and discrimination reduction programs (WHO, 2006). The biomedical measures include; testing and treatment of STIs, availing of condoms and antiretroviral drugs, and voluntary male circumcision. The most effective control measures to date have abstinence from sex, faithfulness to partners, and contraceptive use.
However, through the government agencies, diagnostic efforts are being made, such as inventions of HIV RDTs, CD4 and T-cell counting technologies, HIV P24 ELISA kit for approval by the WHO. FDI, for instance, has been on the forefront in funding and conducting HIV research, providing R&D regulatory expertise as well as building HIV R&D capacity. Conversely, the structural measures involve the enactment of laws to protect the rights of people living with HIV, and interventions to address gender, social and economic inequality. Further, decriminalization of sex work, homosexuality, and drug use would also help in controlling HIV/AIDS spread.
The plan’s role in mitigating HIV spread depends on the degree of information deployment. Moreover, the plan would be guided by the estimates of cost-effectiveness for it to work well. Evidence points to the provision of ARV drugs to infected mothers to significant reduction in vertical transmission of the virus to children. Moreover, male circumcision and screening reduce the chances of contracting HIV.