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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pandemic began in early 1900s in Africa. However, most of the world became aware of the virus existence in the 1980s (Kral et al., 1997). In the United States HIV was first noticed in homosexual male in 1983. In the 1980s the virus spread among populations, largely unnoticed by the medical departments.
During this time most of the countries that were affected by the HIV AIDS started to battle the spread of HIV (UNAIDS and WHO, 2003). However, Asia was among the continents that remained unaffected by HIV AIDS in the early ages. As countries battled, the spread of HIV in Asia remained free from the HIV. This was attributed to their cultural practices and traditions. Eventually HIV/AIDS spread to Asia.
By the year 2006 HIV had spread in Asia to an approximate of 6 to 13 million people (Jan, 2006). The spread of HIV in Asia peaked in the 1990s. Between 1995 and 1998, the spread of HIV in Asia increased drastically (Towe et al., 2009). However, current figures suggest that the incidence of HIV have subsequently reduced.
In Asia, the spread of the HIV has remained relatively stable since the 2001 (Sanju, 2011). When Asia is compared to other regions such as Africa and America, the HIV prevalence levels are lower. In South East Asia, the HIV prevalence level in adults is 0.1% (NACP and UNICEF, 2008).
However, the figures advanced may be misleading since they represent a ratio of the population. Some Asian countries like India and China have large populations. When this fraction of the population is converted to actual numbers, the figure may higher than that of America and Africa.
In Asia, the spread of HIV and AIDS is largely due to social factors that affect the population. For example, the spread of HIV in China can be attributed to commercial sex work, homosexuality, drug abuse and transfusion of infected blood. In Japan, the spread of HIV is associated with prostitution, and homosexuality (Shakarishvili et al., 2005).
In other Asian countries such as India and Pakistan, the transmission of HIV and AIDS is through drug abuse and prostitution. The youths in this region are the most affected group. Transmission among the youth is high due to factors such as unprotected sex, drug abuse and prostitution. Most youth involved in prostitution do not use condoms. Therefore, the risk of transmission from one individual to the next is high.
In addition to this, some of the youth are involved in drugs and homosexuality (Haley et al., 2004) Injection drug users face the highest risk of transmitting HIV among themselves and the surrounding community.
Various factors have contributed to the spread of HIV and AIDS among the youth in Asia. Among these factors is marginalization of certain groups or individuals. Individuals like the homosexuals, prostitutes and drug users are highly shunned by the society in Asia.
These groups are therefore isolated from information, health services, education and social interactions that are vital in the fight against HIV and AIDS (Marshall and Evan, 2009). In addition to this, the health sector in Asia is not well equipped to handle the needs of such groups due to insufficient funds.
Another factor that is contributing to the spread of HIV among the youth in Asia is adoption of different cultures, especially the western culture that preaches sex. The youth therefore indulge in unprotected sex that leads to a high risk factor of transmitting HIV.
The presence of HIV in Asia among the youth is real and the cases of infection are increasing with time. The argument that the traditions of the Asians will keep protecting the youth and keeping the level of infections down is now becoming unrealistic. There is need to find new ways of reducing the infection levels. The HIV pandemic can be prevented using various methods and strategies.
Prevention of HIV
HIV, in Asia, is transmitted in two main ways among the youth. These modes are:
- Transmission through blood transfusion
- Transmission through sexual activities
For each mode of transmission, there are things that can be done to reduce the levels of risks. The preventive measures undertaken to curb the spread of HIV include:
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- Prevention by education
- Clinical prevention
- Policy and government intervention
Prevention by Education
Education is a vital component in the fight to prevent transmission of HIV and AIDS. Therefore, by providing education to different groups of youth the spread of HIV and AIDS can be reduced greatly. Youth must be educated on abstinence and use of condoms to prevent transmission of HIV and AIDS (Dehne and Riedner, 2005). An educated mind is an open mind and may welcome change.
Educated individuals will therefore avoid controversy and reduce the risk of infecting others (UNICEF, 2008). Moreover, educated youth may forgo some traditions that lead to transmission. Some traditions in Asia may encourage the spread of HIV. These traditions may prevent use of condoms. Uneducated youth who follow tradition may find themselves at risk of contracting HIV and AIDS due to ignorance.
In Asia groups that are affected by HIV and AIDS such as homosexuals, prostitutes, and drug abusers are highly marginalized (WHO, 2006). This leads to lack of exposure and proper education. Education prevents the spread of HIV in Asia is by enhancing the youth’s knowledge of how HIV spread from one individual to another. It goes without saying that most marginalized youth are unaware of how HIV is transmitted.
This is because most of them become involved in activities that lead to HIV and AIDS without being aware of the consequences. For example, the youth are usually involved in activities such as injecting themselves with drugs without the knowledge HIV transmission through blood transfusion. These young people share the needles and risk contracting HIV through blood transfusion (Griensven et al., 2004).
A good percentage of the drug abusers end up with HIV infection from using non-sterilized infected needles. Therefore, passing HIV knowledge through education to the marginalized groups reduces the risk of HIV transmission. For the non-marginalized group and students the knowledge can be disseminated through the education system.
Many Asian countries have contemplated incorporating HIV education in their education systems. Knowledge on HIV and AIDS when passed to all the students would enable students to avoid situations that can lead to HIV.
The concept of HIV prevention should be based on a healthy youth development strategy that encourages education (Sweat and Denison, 1995). In addition to this, there should be a program to enhance the life skills of the youth and thus enhance their ability to prevent HIV and AIDS. Despite the fact that transmission of HIV can easily be prevented, young people still end up with the highest level of infection in Asia.
Providing the youth with comprehensive education on matters of HIV enables them to protect themselves against the infections. Acquisition of knowledge on HIV enables the youth to avoid behavior that may lead to HIV transmission (Maher, 2002).
Gender specific education has also become a necessity when disseminating HIV and AIDS information. Women require more knowledge on how the virus is transmitted since they are more vulnerable than men are. Special methods of prevention are required to keep the women safe from infection and transmission of HIV.
To combat the problem of HIV and AIDS gender imbalance needs to be addressed. Couples who are in a relationship where one is positive while the other is negative need more education on how they can have safe sex. These couples account for a high number of infections in Asia.
Moreover, these couples are compelled to have unprotected sex for the purpose of reproduction. (Ellis et al., 2000). Therefore, special care needs to be taken to ensure that infection among these couples is minimized. Without proper counseling for these couples, the un-infected partner is at risk of being infected by HIV.
Societies in Asia find it difficult to discuss sex openly. This has led to youth lacking in knowledge and life skill to tackle the problem of AIDS. The youth usually partake to promiscuous sexual activities that may lead to HIV infections. To prevent infection caused by promiscuity campaigns to encourage abstention should be launched. Such campaigns show the youth that promiscuity is dangerous and may lead to contraction of HIV and AIDS.
Campaigns that encourage abstention among the youth may be used as a means of educating the youth on HIV transmission (UNAIDS, 2000). Moreover, it may also act as a means of informing the youth about undesirable social behaviors such as prostitution and drug abuse that lead to HIV transfusion (UNDOC, 2003). A fall in level of these two social pollutants may eventually lead to a fall in the level of HIV and AIDS transmission.
Another way of discouraging HIV transmission among the youth is by encouraging the use of condoms. Most of the cases on infection of HIV are due to unprotected sex among the youth. Therefore, to stop the spread of HIV through unprotected sex the youth should be encouraged to use condoms.
It is usually hard for the youth to change their sexual behavior. The youth find it hard to use condoms or abstains from sexual activities. Therefore, there is an uphill task in trying to encourage the youth to use condoms and abstain from sexual activity. Moreover, the youth are ignorant and it becomes hard to try to pass the message of abstention and use of condoms (Hitchcock and Fransen, 1999).
Women in a male dominated society like Asia find it hard to negotiate the use of condoms when they get involved in a sexual relationship. Therefore, HIV counseling programs can act as a means of reducing the cases of HIV infection among the youth. Some of the Asian youth are not exposed to proper counsel that can guide them on matters regarding to the spread of HIV.
The youth who are exposed to counsel are ignorant about the ideas being advanced. Therefore, for the spread of HIV to be reduced voluntary counseling services must be part of the program. In addition to this, the youth should undergo voluntary testing to ensure that they know their status. Counselors consider knowledge of one’s status as the first step towards fighting the spread of HIV (Richardson, 2004).
Scholars and counselors believe that the knowledge of personal status tend to encourage the youth to take responsibility of their actions (Polit, 1998: Treece, 2002). It is believed that young people who have known their status are more responsible in their action. Usually well-counseled youth with full knowledge of their status present a low risk in transmission of HIV and AIDS (Roy et al., 2003).
In cases where the youth must get involved in sexual behaviors then they should use condoms to reduce the risk of HIV infection. The youth must also be informed on the advantages of using condoms. This would generally ensure that the youth to use the condoms when having sex and in turn reduce the risk of contracting HIV through unprotected sex.
There is strong evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV transmission from female to male by 50%. Therefore, to reduce the risk of male youth transmission circumcision should be part of the Asian practices.
This would ensure that young male involved in sex have a reduced likelihood if contracting HIV from their female counterparts. Preventing transmission via circumcision of the male is usually cheap and effective even though it does not guarantee total prevention.
Treating sexually transmitted diseases has also been known to prevent HIV infections. Some sexually transmitted diseases such as genital herpes facilitate the transmission of HIV and AIDS among the youth (Donnell, 2010).
Treating herpes in non-infected people has no effects on the level of HIV transmission. However, treating sexually transmitted diseases in HIV infected people has been known to reduce the risk of them transmitting HIV to others (Kennedy, 2007).
Transfusion of infected blood is also one of the ways that HIV is transmitted. Screening of blood can eliminate the risk of HIV transmission through blood transfusion (Wolfson, 2002). However, blood screening is not a sure guarantee that all infected blood samples will be detected.
Therefore, to minimize the risk totally, boundaries should be set on persons who are considered eligible to donate blood. This should be done in a manner that does not show prejudice towards certain people. Prejudice against the infected may lead to losing war against HIV ( Sherman et al., 2005).
Equipment used in medical procedures, such as tattooing and circumcision, must be sterilized during each procedure to avoid the risk of infection. Medical practitioners and other users of equipment that encourage blood exchange should work under perfectly hygienic conditions to ensure that the risk of transmission of HIV is minimal.
HIV can also be prevented by treatment. Treatment with antiretroviral drugs is already being used as a means of preventing the spread of HIV among the youth in Asia (Crepaz, 2004). A good example of this is that young mother can be prevented com infecting their young ones by use of antiretroviral drugs.
The youth who have also been recently exposed to HIV can use antiretroviral to contain the infection before it is fully blown. Despite the fact that the use OF ARVs can reduce the risk of infection it does not reduce the risk of transmission. Therefore, other measures should be used to reduce the infection levels.
Use of treatment as a preventive measure should be critically assessed before application. There is for evidence that the treatment measures put in place would work before treatment can be applied as a means of reducing infections among the youth. Resources are also required before treatment of HIV and AIDS begin (Mayer and Pizer, 2009). Moreover, personal rights of individual who undertake such a procedure need to be considered.
ARVs can have severe side effects on a person’s health and life. Therefore, a person suffering from HIV has the right to decide whether to use the treatment as a means of prevention of not. Post-exposure prophylaxis is a method used to prevent infection immediately after one as been exposed to HIV. This method gives a person’s immune system a chance to fight the virus before it become lethal.
Educating young people on AIDS and other still plays an important rile I’m elimination of the AIDS epidemic
Policy and government intervention
To enhance the fight against HIV and AIDS, a strong political support is needed. Public support from politicians and is needed in order to combat the HIV epidemic. An effective government intervention plan is necessary to ensure that HIV transmission is eliminated.
The government must formulate a strategic plan based on science, religion and other social factors to ensure that they van tackle the problems caused by HIV and AIDS. Prevention of HIV must take government intervention into consideration. The government needs to enact laws that would discourage certain socially unacceptable behavior.
Prostitution and drug use are conjoined in a complex relationship that enhances the spread of HIV and AIDS (Matson, 2002). These behaviors are socially unacceptable and usually encourage HIV transmission among the youth. Government intervention on these behaviors may reduce the risk facing the youth in Asia.
Strict rules against prostitution and drug abuse will go a long way to encourage the fight against HIV and AIDS. Moreover, if the government ensures that these rules are followed strictly it may lead to a drop in both prostitution level and the level of drug abuse. Elimination of these two social evils reduces the probability of infections and transmission.
Asia was among the continents that remained unaffected by HIV AIDS in the early ages. This was attributed to their cultural practices and traditions but eventually HIV and AIDS spread to Asia. When Asia is compared to other regions such as Africa and America, the HIV prevalence levels are lower. Nevertheless, the continent’s youth are now among the most affected people.
The argument that the traditions of the Asians will keep protecting the youth and keeping the level of infections down is now becoming unrealistic. To reduce the risk of transmission various preventive measures have been employed. Education is a vital component in the fight to prevent transmission of HIV and AIDS. Therefore, by providing education to different groups of youth the spread of HIV and AIDS can be reduced greatly.
In Asia groups that is affected by HIV and AIDS such as homosexuals, prostitutes, and drug abusers are highly marginalized. This leads to lack of exposure and proper education. Educating the marginalized may lead to reduction in HIV and AIDS levels. The youth in Asia usually partake to promiscuous sexual activities that may lead to HIV infections.
To prevent infection caused by promiscuity campaigns to encourage abstention should be launched. There is strong evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV transmission from female to male by 50%. Therefore, to reduce the risk of male youth transmission circumcision should be part of the Asian practices. To enhance the fight against HIV and AIDS, a strong political support is needed.
Public support from politicians and is needed in order to combat the HIV epidemic. Strict rules against prostitution and drug abuse will go a long way to encourage the fight against HIV and AIDS. Moreover, if the government ensures that these rules are followed strictly it may lead to a drop in both prostitution level and the level of drug abuse. Elimination of these social evils reduces the probability of infections and transmission.
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