Conceptual study on the spread of HIV/AIDS

Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) (Sepkowitz, 2010). Following initial infection, a person may not notice any changes in health condition or may experience a brief period of influenza-like illness. Typically, this is followed by a prolonged period with no symptoms(Wilhelm, 2008). As the infection progresses, it interferes more with the immune system, increasing the risk of common infections like tuberculosis, as well as other opportunistic infections, and tumours that rarely affect people who have working immune systems. These late symptoms of infection are referred to as AIDS. This stage is often also associated with weight loss (Klimas, Koneru & Fletcher, 2008).

According to Markowitz (2007) HIV/AIDS is spread primarily by ignorance on its means of transmission/prevention which include unsafe behaviours such as unprotected sex (including anal and oral sex), contaminated blood transfusions, hypodermic needles, and from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. The increasing spread of the incidence of HIV/AIDS is associated with different myths and ignorance concerning the disease. There are many misconceptions about HIV/AIDS such as the belief that it is a disease for promiscuous people, homosexuals, bestiality, etc. The disease has also become subject to many controversies involving religion including the Catholic church’s decision not to support condom use as prevention (McCullom, 2013).

According to Norman (2014), more than 35 million people are living with HIV but about half of those do not know they are infected. In other words, around 18 million live in ignorance of their condition. That is potentially disastrous for them, for the longer treatment is delayed the worse the prospects for a successful outcome. What it also spells out is a massive global public health problem. He further added that many of the 18 million will go on living in the way they always have; having sex and spreading the virus. Too many drug users will continue to share needles and too many sex workers will not take basic precautions. New cases of infection vastly exceed the numbers going on to treatment for the first time.

According to Evian (2006), HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. If left untreated, HIV can lead to the disease called AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV completely. HIV attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells (T cells), which help the immune system fight off infections. If left untreated, HIV reduces the number of CD4 cells (T cells) in the body, making the person more likely to get infections or infection-related cancers.

Gallo (2006) stated that over time, HIV can destroy so many of theCD4cells to a level that the body cannot fight off infections and disease. These opportunistic infections or cancers take advantage of a very weak immune system and signal that the person has AIDS, the last state of HIV infection.

AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection, and not everyone who has HIV advances to this stage (Sharp & Hahn, 2011). AIDS is the stage of infection that occurs when the immune system is badly damaged and the infected person become vulnerable to opportunistic infections. This usually occurs when the number of your CD4 cells falls below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood (200 cells/mm3),the individual is considered to have progressed to AIDS. (Normal CD4 counts are between 500 and 1,600 cells/mm3.) (Harden, 2012).


Evian, C. (2006). Primary HIV/AIDS care: a practical guide for primary health care personnel in a clinical and supportive setting (Updated 4th ed.). Houghton: Jacana

Gallo, M. F. (2006). A review of the effectiveness and acceptability of the female condom for dual protection.Sexual health, 9 (1), 18–26.

Harden, V. A. (2012). AIDS at 30: A History. London: Potomac Books Inc.

Klimas, N., Koneru, A. O. & Fletcher, M. A. (2008).Overview of HIV.Psychosomatic Medicine, 70 (5), 523–30.

Markowitz, M. (2007).Primary HIV-1 infection is associated with preferential depletion of CD4+ T cells from effector sites in the gastrointestinal tract. J. Exp. Med. 200 (6): 761–70.

McCullom, R. (2013). An African Pope Won’t Change the Vatican’s Views on Condoms and AIDS previous next An African Pope Won’t Change the Vatican’s Views on Condoms and AIDS. The Atlantic.

Norman, A. (2014). The New Public Health and STD/HIV Prevention: Personal, Public and Health Systems Approaches. New York: Springer.

Sepkowitz, K. A. (2010). AIDS—the first 20 years. N. Engl. J. Med., 344 (23), 1764–72.

Sharp, P. M. & Hahn, B. H. (2011).Origins of HIV and the AIDS Pandemic. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine, 1 (1), a006841.

Wilhelm, K. (2008). Encyclopaedia of public health. New York: Springer.

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