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In contemporary times, AIDS has become manageable courtesy of discovery of lifesaving drugs in 1996. Since then, AIDS death casualties have been on the decrease with life expectancy taking the opposite direction. Actually, an AIDS victim today may live to average of 65 years of age and this is commendable.
Unfortunately, this good news have been stained with misconceptions that AIDS is not a big issue. Consequently, people, especially youth have gone out to experiment with all forms of sexual activities most of which are unprotected hence unsafe. As a result, there has been a sharp increase in new infections amongst youth, gay men, and intravenous drug addicts.
Moreover, this misconception has allowed AIDS to take its toll on African-American women, a forgotten demographic. Studies indicate that, AIDS remains the top cause of death amongst African-American women aged between 29 and 34. On the other hand, as aforementioned, life expectancy is on the rise as evidenced by ageing. These intriguing facts make AIDS management an area of great interest and this paper expounds these facts.
As aforementioned, AIDS is manageable in contemporary times. This came with the introduction of lifesaving drug regimen in 1996. Introducing the lifesaving drug initiative, the chair of Stop AIDS campaign said, “Innovative initiative will be operating within a year helping to deliver vital drugs and save millions of lives…the pool should help to save the lives of millions living with HIV across the developing world who are unable to access the life-saving medicines they need” (Walker, 2009). True to these words, the fight against AIDS has borne significant fruits.
Life expectancy has been on the increase; an AIDS victim today would live to age of 65 years. The lifesaving drug regimen constitutes use of combination therapy whereby, patients use more than one antiretroviral drug. The common antiretroviral drugs include zidoduvine, lamiduvine, lopinavir, tenofovir, and staduvine among others.
The combination of these drugs offers better management of AIDS. “Combinations of antiretroviral drugs create multiple obstacles to HIV replication, which keeps the number of offspring low hence reducing the possibility of a superior mutation” (Dybul, Fauci, Barlet, Kaplan & Pau, 2002, p. 381).
This option of combined therapy therefore makes AIDS management a reality. There has been extensive research in this field and with improving technology; researchers have formulated guidelines of AIDS management. This includes determination of viral load and CD4 cell count.
It is well known that, if a person starts treatment therapy before CD4 cell count goes below 350/uL, this person is likely to live until sixties. Therefore, AIDS management is surmountable in contemporary times and people are benefiting from it. There are few drawbacks presented by AIDS management by use of retroviral drugs; however, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks hence helping AIDS victims greatly.
Increased Infections amongst Vulnerable Groups
Unfortunately, there have been misconceptions about AIDS management. People have presumed AIDS management means AIDS cure; consequently, they have involved themselves in risky sexual behaviors like unprotected sex. This has led to increased new infections. Among the most vulnerable groups, include youths, gay men, prostitutes, and drug addicts who use intravenous drug administration.
According to Hall, Ruinguang and Rhodes (2008), “An estimated 4,883 young people received a diagnosis of HIV infection or AIDS, representing about 13% of the persons given a diagnosis during 2004…81% of persons aged 15–24 , 70% of persons aged 13–14; 61% of all person” (p. 525). This shows that even though AIDS is manageable, many youth opt to contract it to manage it later.
This fact is disheartening, as youth seem to have forgotten the old adage that, prevention is better than cure. The increase in number of new infections stems from the misconstrued belief that if AIDS its manageable; therefore, one can contract it. This is risky especially given the fact that, as aforementioned there are challenges facing AIDS management by use of retroviral drugs. Who knows, in future, the challenges may be insurmountable meaning that many will die young due to misconception.
Homosexuality is another area rocked by increase of new infections. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2003), “Till now; 75 to 85 percent of AIDS cases reported are related to homosexual activity, promiscuous heterosexual sex and Intravenous drug abuse” (p. 68). This signals danger in matters concerning AIDS. The fact is the announcement that AIDS was manageable, heralded new trend whereby these groups of people, which happen to be the most vulnerable, went out and engaged in all forms of dangerous sexual activities.
Finally, even though there are claims that AIDS prevalence is low amongst prostitutes, researches indicate that, “High rates of HIV have been found amongst individuals who sell sex in many different and diverse countries…where HIV prevalence is low amongst this group; it is usually higher than the rate found amongst the general adult population” (Kakar & Karkar, 2001, p. 31).
This discovery is disturbing. The fact is that, commercial sex workers are at a high risk of contracting HIV because they are exposed to this virus often. Despite the fact that they claim to use protection, there are many issues involved here like doing the business under the influence of drugs. On the other side, drug addicts using intravenous form of drug administration risk contracting AIDS because it can be transmitted via shared syringes.
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AIDS amongst African-American Women
As aforementioned, AIDS remains the greatest cause of deaths amongst African-American women. Apparently, this group seems to be a forgotten demographic. AIDS prevalence amongst these individuals has nothing to do with skin color or ethnicity; on the contrary, it is based on numerous challenges that stand in the way of African Americans in obtaining proper health care. These barriers include sexually transmitted diseases, health beliefs, and poverty among others.
Study carried out by CDC indicates that, “even African Americans account for about 13% of the US population, they account for about half (49%) of the people who get HIV and AIDS. Blacks with AIDS often do not live like people of other races and ethnic groups with AIDS…for African Americans and other blacks; HIV/AIDS is a leading cause of death” (CDC, 2005, p. 41). Moreover, misconceptions about AIDS management have not spared this forgotten demographic.
Additionally, health issues among African-American women have always been an issue of contention. Many people do not differentiate between being big and being healthy. Due to this fact, when women in this category get AIDS, they die quickly because of poor health. A study carried out in 2005 across thirty-three states, “64 percent the infected were black” (CDC, 2005, p. 35). These numbers are alarming and they confirm the fact that AIDS among African-American women is catastrophic and calls for attention.
The difference between the infection and death of African-American women and their white counterparts can also be attributed to culture. Some cultural practices like those of having multiple sex partners are pronounced amongst the blacks and this may explain this difference. However, the primary reasons go back to the barriers discussed earlier on in this paper.
Ironically, these increased mortality rates amongst African-American women come amidst claims that AIDS is manageable. This indicates that there is breakdown of information transfer including misconceptions coupled with sheer ignorance to take responsibility.
AIDS is manageable in these contemporary times. After the initiation of lifesaving drug regiment in 1996, managing AIDS has become a reality by use of these drugs. These management strategies have led to increased life expectancy. Actually, an individual diagnosed with HIV today may live up to mid sixties.
This is good news for victims of this scourge. Unfortunately, this news have been mistaken and misconstrued amongst the most vulnerable groups in society viz. youth, homosexual men, prostitutes, and intravenous drug addicts. Individuals in these groups have taken advantage of the fact that AIDS is manageable to engage in dangerous unprotected sexual activities.
This is unfortunate because prevention is better than cure. Other victims of AIDS scourge is African-American women who have suffered greatly under this calamity. Many have lost their lives to the scourge and this is attributed to the numerous challenges that they face in accessing medical services coupled with some cultural practices. It is ironical that, instead of getting the anticipated improvements that would come with AIDS manageability; the opposite has been realized with new infections and deaths being reported everyday.
CDC. (2005). HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report, 2004. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services. 16(2): 1–46.
CDC. (2003). HIV/STD Risks in Young Men Who Have Sex with Men Who Do Not Disclose Their Sexual Orientation—Six US Cities. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 52(2): 81–85.
Dybul, M., Fauci, A., Bartlett, J., Kaplan, J., & Pau, A. (2002). Guidelines For Using Antiretroviral Agents among HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents. Ann. Intern. Med. 137 (5): 381–433
Hall, I., Ruiguang, S., & Rhodes, P. (2008). Estimation of HIV Incidence in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Association. 300(4):520-529.
Kakar, D., & Kakar, S. (2001). Combating AIDS In the 21st Century Issues And Challenges. New York; Sterling Publishers Private Limited.
Walker, R. (2009). Stop AIDS Campaign Celebrates Creation of Life-Saving HIV Patent Pool. Retrieved From, <Http://Www.Aidsportal.Org/News_Details.Aspx?ID=12119>