Epidemiology of HIV
Clinton L. Lewis, RN
Grand Canyon University: Concepts in Community and Public Health
January 29, 2014
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a life threatening global pandemic that has claimed the lives of millions worldwide. HIV is primarily a sexually transmitted infection, but has a host of additional vectors. This virus is also be transmitted via contact with blood that contains the virus, transferred during pregnancy from mother to fetus, during childbirth, and breast-feeding. The virus can also be transmitted via intravenous needle sharing (Mayo; 2012). HIV damages the host’s immune system, ultimately interfering with the body’s natural defenses to fight ...view middle of the document...
In the epidemiology triangle, three primary factors influence when, if, how, and where, and how disease will occur. These factors are: disease agent and its characteristics; host/vulnerability to the disease (human in this case); and environment that contains both agent and host. These three factors must be defined when searching for cause(s) of disease.
It is believed a virus very similar to HIV first took place in Africa, in certain populations of monkeys and chimpanzees, where they were being hunted for food. During the butchering or cooking process of the meat from these animals allowing the virus to be transmitted to humans, and morph into HIV in it’s current form.
Signs and symptoms vary depending on the phase of the infection, but include: muscle soreness, fever, night sweats, headache, rash, mouth or genital ulcers, sore throat, joint pain, swollen lymph glands (seen more often on the neck), and diarrhea (AIDS; 2014).
HIV lyses the CD4 cells within the body; a specific version of white blood cells that are a key component to fight and prevent disease within the human body. As these cells decline in number, the immune system is depressed. With a depressed immune system, the infected host is quite susceptible to addition infections, including Cytomegalovirus, Pneumocystis pneumonia, Toxoplasmosis, Tuberculosis, and Cryptosporidiosis (Mayo, 2014).
Vector transmission occurs in infected blood transfusion, semen, or vaginal secretions entering the body. HIV cannot be transmitted via saliva (kissing), or the sweat glands (handshaking, hugging, etc.). HIV can also be transmitted to an uninfected host during oral sex where there are open sores in the mouth. Sharing intravenous drug needles with an infected host can also transmit the disease. Mothers who are pregnant can transmit the disease to the fetus during pregnancy, at the time of delivery, and during breast-feeding. Those who receive treatment during pregnancy for HIV significantly reduce the risk of infecting their children. Blood transfusions is yet another vector, or mode of transmission. However, the risk is very small, as American blood banks and hospitals screen blood for HIV antibodies.
Risk factors include: 1) Having unprotected sex (without the use of a condom), or having oral sex while having open sores in the oral cavity, with an infected person. 2) Currently positive for another STI can cause open sores on the genitals, which creates opportunity for HIV to enter the body from an infected sexual partner. 3) Sharing needles from an infected person for intravenous drug use.
As HIV weakens the immune system, the risk for additional infection increases. Infections common to persons infected with HIV or AIDS include:
* Tuberculosis: This is the most common opportunistic infection associated with HIV and the leading cause of death among people living with AIDS. (Vector)
* Salmonellosis: Acquired from contaminated food or water. (Vector)
* Cytomegalovirus: Common...