Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

by Michael_Koger

Human immunodeficiency virus is a global public health crisis.

This research will explore health care in the United States. It will especially focus on diseases for which minorities receive inadequate medical care. Specifically, it will be an examination of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and how interactions between patients and the health care system can lead to disparity or inequities. This is an especially interesting topic as there is much in the medical literature about this global public health problem. Moreover, the occurrence of this infirmity is disproportionate among racial/ethnic minorities (HealthyPeople2020, 2019).

Health Disparities and Inequities

     Health disparities result when there is variation between the health of groups of people.  For example, Alzheimer’s disease tends to occur more commonly in women than men.  It also happens more in Caucasians than blacks.  Moreover, this illness occurs more in those who are quite elderly or with advanced age than in young adults, middle-age individuals, or even those who enter the years beyond the middle-aged.

     Health inequities means the delivery of care to patients is not the same across a geographic area.  For example, some health care facilities may be able to deliver care in a better fashion than others because of medical equipment or the presence of specialists.  There will be variations in health care because of the patient’s racial/ethnic group, socioeconomic status, age, geographic location, gender, sexual orientation, and the presence or absence of a medical disability (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2018).

     Naturally, these potential obstacles can impede the delivery of health care in many ways; in other words, they can have an influence on access to medical services.

Mixed Methods Statistical Analysis

     Mixed methods approach to statistical analysis involves a combination of qualitative and quantitative analyses.  There are advantages and disadvantages of either of these, and there are benefits of the mixed methods approach.  First, qualitative analysis is useful for social science research, and quantitative analysis leads to a numerical representation in the result.  In mixed methods, the researcher will assemble both methods into one study (Grand Canyon University, 2019).

     One example of quantitative analysis is telephone survey research in which there is random-digit dialed data collection.  On the other hand, a qualitative data collection may lead to bias, and it may not be useful to perform statistical analysis.  Nevertheless, the use of quantitative analysis may encounter problems with the context setting where the researcher collects the data.  Moreover, it is often quite helpful to utilize inductive and deductive reasoning in some studies (Grand Canyon University, 2019). 

     Despite the impressive data collection that may result from mixed methods, one must keep in mind that it is more time-consuming than choosing one type only.  Also, some researchers are not

comfortable with both approaches, and this must be considered as the staff arranges the research design (Grand Canyon University, 2019).

     This will be a study of HIV occurrence in various parts of the United States, and there will be several independent variables.  These include race, age, income, geographic region, education, gender, and perhaps certain others.  Naturally, the questions will explore these predictors and how they affect the distribution of disease.  There are many statistical analyses which will quickly address these research questions and yield a wealth of information about this exciting topic (Grand Canyon University, 2019).

Research Questions

     The research questions for this study are:  RQ1. What is the relationship between demographic variables and the occurrence of HIV infection?  A.  Why are some of these relationships disproportionate?  RQ2.  What health behaviors worsen the situation, and which ones lower the spread of HIV?  RQ3.  How can the health care system ameliorate this public health problem?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus

     Human immunodeficiency virus is a global public health crisis.  It has made its way to all seven continents.  Sub-Saharan Africa has an especially high occurrence, and the presence of malaria worsens the epidemic when pregnant women have both conditions simultaneously.  Worldwide, there are approximately 37 million people with HIV/AIDS, and approximately 50,000 new cases occur each year in the United States.  The virus that causes HIV/AIDS weakens the immune system (One, 2018; Healthy People 2020, 2019).

     The virus spreads to all parts of the body in some people who have an exposure.  It may advance to acquired immunodeficiency virus syndrome especially when the patient does not know whether he or she has the infection.  When the illness progresses to AIDS, the patient will likely succumb within three years unless he or she obtains antiretroviral therapy.  Today, many patients who receive proper medical care will live for several decades.  This was not true when the first cases of the disease became apparent in the early 1980s.  Scientists do not believe that it spreads to someone else via hugging, sharing utensils, or hand-shaking.  However, rare cases transmit via deep French kissing.  In any event, the infirmity will spread via blood and body fluids such as breast milk, semen, and other body fluids (One, 2018; Healthy People 2020, 2019).

     The course of this may go unnoticed.  One who has recently acquired HIV infection may have signs and symptoms which resemble the common cold or infectious mononucleosis.  Specifically, he or she may have swollen lymph nodes, fever, diarrhea, and weight loss.  Physicians therefore, may not know that the patient has HIV/AIDS because it presents like something else.  During the next few weeks, the virus infects billions of human cells in the patient.  Eventually, the symptoms may disappear, and the patient enters the asymptomatic phase regardless of whether he or she suspects that this serious illness is present.  Though there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, it is possible to control it well with antiretroviral agents.  This therapy will lead to undetectable blood levels of HIV RNA.  Resistance of the virus to these drugs can interfere with the management of these patients.  In fact, some regions of the world will not have any effective drugs to treat it because of drug resistance to all available agents (One, 2018; Healthy People 2020, 2019).

What is at stake?

     This research will have much relevance as HIV occurs in people of all racial/ethnic groups.  This places everyone at risk for acquisition of the illness as people who engage in sex come from all geographic regions of the globe.  This will require health behavior change through limitation of sexual partners, use of condoms, and regular HIV testing to screen for the presence of the infection.  The researchers want to learn about the relationship between demographic variables and occurrence of the infirmity (Healthy People 2020, 2019).

Methods of Prevention

     Many people who are sexually active do not use condoms to prevent disease acquisition or spread.  Some do not have screening tests for sexually transmitted infection either because it is not available there or the person chooses not to have the tests.  When sexual partners do not go for screening, the spread of this infection may continue especially if they do not know they have it or other sexually transmitted infections.  Those who have multiple sexual partners are at risk for its acquisition or spread.  Moreover, those who spend time with commercial sex workers are at risk for these infections.  Furthermore, those who exchange money or drugs for sex are engaging in very risky behavior.  Those who believe they have had a contact with HIV may be able to avoid infection with the virus if they undergo post-exposure prophylaxis with antiretroviral drugs within 72 hours.  This can happen through unprotected sex, and it may occur in health care workers who have contact with blood via needle stick or an accident in the operating room.  Moreover, the use of antiretroviral drugs has dramatically lowered the occurrence of mother-to-child transmission over the last few decades (Healthy People 2020, 2019).

     Hence, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is a major public health problem across the world (Healthy People 2020, 2019; One, 2018).

Maryland and HIV

     There are many statistics for Maryland’s HIV epidemic.  These values have been in progress for several years, and they correspond to Healthy People 2010 and Healthy People 2020.  There have been years when the findings are not very good, and there are times when improvement has taken place.  For example, in 2017, adult and adolescent diagnoses of the disease were more than 1,000 (Maryland Department of Health, 2018).

     Naturally, health disparities and inequities are an important item, and it is desirable that these issues improve especially for black women.  For adolescents with HIV, it is, of course, necessary to have them on antiretroviral therapy with undetectable HIV RNA levels.   The same is true for individuals who practice injection drug use regardless of whether they know or do not know their HIV status (Maryland Department of Health, 2018).

Conclusion

     This will be an interesting examination of HIV/AIDS in a few parts of the United States and across the globe.  The seriousness of this illness makes it clear that continuation of research and clinical management are necessary to ultimately get this public health matter under control.

References

  1. Merriam-Webster Online.  (2019).

  2. Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.   Orgera, K. and Artiga, S.  (2018).  Disparities in health and health care:  Five key questions and answers.   

  3. Centers for Disease Control.  (2014).  Health disparities in HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis. 

  4. HealthyPeople.gov.  (2019).  Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.   

  5. Grand Canyon University.  Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching.  Overview of Mixed methods.  

  6.  Alexander, S.  (2018).  One.   

  7.  Maryland Department of Health.  (2019).  Quick Maryland HIV statistics.   

  8.  Copyright 2019.  All Rights Reserved.  Michael Koger, Sr.

Disclaimer

     The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and one should not use it for diagnosis or treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact their physician for advice.

Updated: 05/21/2019, Michael_Koger
 
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