Public system. Overtime, the virus attacks so many

Public Health Problem
Human Immunodeficiency Virus, commonly known as HIV, is a virus that can be spread
through a handful of bodily fluids and attacks the body’s immune system. Overtime, the virus
attacks so many T4 cells that the body becomes too weak to fight of the illness or any other
infections (1). T4 cells are the cells that fight off any infective organisms inside the body;
without them, the body would become weak and any war against any virus would be lost. The
immune system can become so damaged that it cannot fight off any infections and gives HIV a
huge opportunity to progress into AIDS. AIDS, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, is the
most critical stage of HIV (1). One is considered to have AIDS when the body’s CD4 cell (also
known as T4 cell) count falls below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood (1). AIDS is so
serious that, if going without treatment, people who have AIDS live for about 3 years with the
infection (1).
Symptoms for HIV do not make themselves prominent until about one to two months
after the virus enters the body (2). The primary symptoms are similar to flu-like symptoms,
which include fever, headache, achy joints, sore throat, and swollen lymph glands in the neck
(2). As the virus spends time in the body multiplying, symptoms start to change and the infected
person may start to have fatigue, diarrhea and weight loss, along with the above mentioned
symptoms (2). Seeing that the symptoms of HIV are comparable to those of the flu or common
cold, many put it off thinking that their symptoms are not anything serious, making the process
of diagnosing someone with the infection difficult. The only way to be 100% sure someone has
HIV is to be tested for it (3). There are multiple ways to be tested, including blood tests, antibody
screening tests, RNA tests, and in-home test kits (3).
According to, more than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with
HIV and an estimated 37,600 Americans became newly diagnosed in 2014 (1). Where did HIV
originate and how did it makes it’s way to the United States? Scientists believe that HIV
originated in a specific type of chimpanzee in Central Africa (4). The infection started in a form
only known to chimpanzees known as Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) and mutated into
HIV when it was transmitted to humans. Humans most likely came in contact with the infected
blood of the chimpanzees while they hunted the chimps for their meat (4). Studies show that the
virus originated in Central Africa, then spread throughout the rest of the continent, and finally
spread globally. It is thought that HIV reached the United States as early as the mid 1970s (4).
The main reason that HIV exists today is that there is no known cure for the disease.
Along with no distinct cure for the infection, HIV is a problem in today’s society due to a lack of
education on the illness and a lack of protection among those who are sexually active and
use/share needles.
There are multiple ways for HIV to be transmitted, but only those with the infection can
transmit it (4). As mentioned, HIV is a virus spread through certain bodily fluids, including
blood, semen, pre-seminal fluids, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk (4). These fluids
must come in contact with a mucous membrane, which can be found in the mouth, rectum,
vagina, and penis (4). If the infected fluid comes in contact with damaged tissue or is injected
directly into the bloodstream there is a high chance of HIV transmission and contraction as well
(4). Another way HIV can be transmitted is prenatally. In prenatal transmission, an HIV-positive
mother can potentially pass on the infection to her child through pregnancy, childbirth, and
breastfeeding (5). Those who are most at risk for contracting HIV are those who have
unprotected vaginal or anal sex or have shared a needle with someone who is HIV-positive (3).
HIV is definitely a risk for future communities globally. With no distinct cure there
remains a chance of contracting the infection and having to live with it. Society needs to work on
doing everything it can to find a cure and promote education on HIV in order to put an end to the
II. How to Solve the Public Health Problem
Despite the fact that HIV can not be completely solved with a cure, there are multiple
ways to prevent the transmission of the infection. The main way of preventing the transmission
of HIV is using a condom every time intercourse occurs. Understanding the right way of using a
male condom and a female condom is a bonus (1). Another way to prevent HIV transmission is
taking HIV medicines. There are HIV medicines, if tested HIV-negative, that one can take to
reduce the chances of contracting HIV. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) helps reduce the
chances of getting the infection while Post-exposure prophylaxis (PeP) helps prevent the
infection after exposure to the virus (1). One study supported the idea of using Pre-exposure
prophylaxis (PrEP) to reduce the risk of HIV, but also noted that the use of PrEP can increase
gastrointestinal and renal adverse events (6). Antiretroviral Therapy is another way of
preventing HIV transmission. A study done by the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN)
showed that early use of antiretroviral therapy, the management of HIV through multiple
antiretroviral drugs, led to a dramatic decrease of genetically linked HIV infections between
sexual partners (7).
HIV is a global issue, but thankfully there are statistics that prove it has been decreasing
with time. provides multiple articles and studies that help support the idea of decreasing
cases of HIV. For example, it is mentioned that the number of people with HIV receiving
treatment in resource-poor countries has dramatically increased in the past decade (1). This
means that those who are not usually exposed to HIV treatment are becoming subjected to the
medication and treatment they need. It is also mentioned that, in 2015, 77% of pregnant women
living with HIV globally had access to antiretroviral medicines to prevent the transmission of
HIV to their babies (1). New HIV infections among children have declined by 50% since 2012,
proving that the antiretroviral medicines are successful in decreasing transmission of HIV from
pregnant women to their children (1).
III. Public Health in the Future
According to an article found on Oxford Academic, there are a few things that need to be
done to prevent the recurrences of HIV. We should focus on the early application of treatment,
major financial investments that need to be made in low-income countries, strengthening HIV
treatment programs, and minimizing patient attenuation (8). The article continues to mention that
an HIV-free future is possible and if we, as a society, stop focusing on the negative aspects of
treatment as prevention and start to work on the above mentioned strategies, then the world is
one step closer to putting an end to HIV (8). In my opinion, the article is completely right.
Society needs to focus on helping out low-income countries and start introducing them to
prevention strategies such as education on protected sex and antiretroviral therapy. This will give
Third World countries knowledge and hope that HIV can be controlled. Early application of
treatment isn’t a bad idea either. Early treatment is known to decrease the transmission of HIV,
so why don’t we work on it more? Through investing in and educating low-income countries and
early application of HIV treatment, HIV will not only become managed, but it will be eradicated
from this world.
(1) Homepage. (2017, June 28). Retrieved from
(2) HIV/AIDS: The epidemic continues. (2015, July 21). Retrieved from
(3) AIDS and HIV Health Center. (n.d.). Retrieved from
(4) HIV/AIDS. (2017, May 30). Retrieved from
(5) Nordqvist, C. (2017, March 24). HIV and AIDS: Causes, symptoms, and treatments.
Retrieved from
(6) Molina, J. M., Capitant, C., Spire, B., Pialoux, G., Cotte, L., Charreau, I., . . . ANRS, G. R.
(2015, December 03). On-Demand Preexposure Prophylaxis in Men at High Risk for HIV-1
Infection. Retrieved from
(7) Cohen, M. S., Chen, Y. Q., McCauley, M., Gamble, T., Hosseinipour, M. C., Kumarasamy,
N., . . . HPTN, T. E. (2016, September 01). Antiretroviral Therapy for the Prevention of HIV-1
Transmission. Retrieved from
(8) Sigaloff, K. C., Lange, J. M., & Montaner, J. (2014, July 01). Global Response to HIV:
Treatment as Prevention, or Treatment for Treatment? | Clinical Infectious Diseases | Oxford
Academic. Retrieved November, from


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