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HIV/AIDS is a disease that is easily transmitted through sexual intercourse, blood transfusion, and pregnancy. The HIV virus weakens the victim’s immune system and after some point the disease becomes the medical condition known as AIDS. At this point the body can no longer counter the effects of infection.
But the worst part of all is the fact that there is no known cure. Thus, the disease can spread from one village to the next and from one city to the next to overwhelm local governments and health officials. It will eventually become an epidemic if nothing can be done to stop the spread of the disease.
It is a lethal medical condition that once infected the carrier of the virus is expected to die but this does not have to be the case for most people, if only they can have access to treatment that can mitigate the impact of the disease.
Dimensions of the Problem
The problem with HIV/AIDS is not only limited to the mortality rate and the epidemiology of the disease but also the social problems that it brings. First of all AIDS can easily shorten the life expectancy of the patient. This is especially true in places where there is no adequate healthcare system that can help in mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS.
In addition to the healthcare aspect of the problem there is also the social side of the issue. In the early years of its history, HIV was linked to homosexuals and drug addicts. Thus, when the community finds out that a person has AIDS then the inevitable isolation and persecution can occur.
In addition there is still widespread ignorance of the disease and therefore the fear of infection is high even if scientifically speaking it is impossible for a person to get infected unless specific conditions are met.
The study used scientific data as well as historical data. The study traced the emergence of the disease as well as the response of different nations. There was a section that provided an overview of the organizations and the personalities involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Aside from science and history the study also used textual evidence, specifically literature, to show that the concern for AIDS/HIV has gone global. The study highlighted an advertising campaign with the catchphrase “Don’t Die of Ignorance” and it was printed on a leaflet that was distributed in every household in Great Britain (Whiteside, p.103). The study also mentioned the use of multimedia to enhance the campaign against the deadly disease.
The study was carefully put together and as a result there is almost no way to misinterpret what the author tried to convey. It is clear that the cause of the problem is HIV/AIDS and that the impact of the disease is the reason why other issues emerged such as poverty, gender inequality, corruption in government etc.
However, if one will ask why there were so many preventable deaths then there is indeed another side to the story. The reason is not just the virus but other social forces as well that help exacerbate the problem.
The widespread impact of AIDS/HIV especially in Third World countries cannot be solely blamed on the epidemiology of the virus but also on the social conditions that exist in a particular nation or geographic area that help explain the spread of the disease and the high mortality rate.
This is the major focus of the study. Although the discovery of a cure is the most important issue when it comes to HIV/AIDS, the need to improve preventive measures and how to enhance treatment has occupied the thoughts of many people including those that have the resources and influence to make an impact in the fight against HIV/AIDS. It has become very clear that the problem is no longer local but global.
There are three major issues when it comes to HIV/AIDS. First of all there is inequality when it comes to access to information and treatment that could easily reduce the impact of the disease. Secondly, the HIV/AIDS epidemic cannot be contained by quarantine or other measures that can prevent the spread of the virus (Fee & Fox, p.67). And finally, the disease can be treated in such a way that it can help prolong the life of the individual.
Inequality is the result of poverty and therefore it is not surprising to find out that Third World countries suffer greatly from the impact of HIV/AIDS simply because of ignorance.
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There is a need to pool resources and to increase cooperation between national leaders and aid agencies in order to increase knowledge about the disease and how it can be prevented.
It is also important to understand that HIV/AIDS does not respect borders simply because a person can be a carrier without manifesting any symptoms. It is therefore crucial to develop a global initiative because everyone is involved. It is also alarming to consider the possibility of refugees moving into another country because the social structure in their homeland has been weakened by the absence of human resources due to shortened life expectancies.
Finally, treatment must be made available to those infected with HIV/AIDS. When it comes to treatment the challenge is always about money. The drugs can be very expensive and yet senseless deaths could have been easily prevented if there is just a way for infected people to access treatment. The most important thing to do is to find a way to make drugs affordable, especially to those living in poverty-stricken nations.
Fee, Elizabeth and Daniel Fox. AIDS: The Burdens of History. CA: California University Press, 1988.
Whiteside, Alan. HIV/AIDS: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford Press, 2008.