Example Of Term Paper On HIV/AIDS: Then And Now From The Conflict Perspective
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Human Immunodeficiency Virus or more commonly known as HIV is a type of virus that weakens immune system by destroying necessary cells and reproducing inside the body of the host (human). Unlike the other viruses that the body can get rid of, HIV stays until the person dies. It takes a long period of time before symptoms show and during this time, HIV has already destroyed the T-cells and B-cells that are necessary parts of the immune system (AIDS.gov, n.d.).
AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome on the other hand is the final stage of HIV infection. However, this does not mean that everyone who has HIV infection progresses to AIDS, those who undergo several treatments can keep their infection level low and cannot progress to AIDS (AIDS.gov, n.d.).
HIV/AIDS is not just a sexually transmitted disease that can only be passed to another person, if they have a sexual contact. It can be transferred once body fluids such as blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal fluid, and breast milk get in contact with a damaged tissue such as wounds, or directly injected into the blood stream (AIDS.gov, n.d.).
This means, aside from having sexual contact with an infected person, sharing their syringe or paraphernalia for drug preparation can be a reason as to why a person can have HIV. In less cases, it is being passed on by infected mothers who breastfeed their babies (Aids.gov, n.d.).
As to some misconception, it does not spread through air, water, sharing utensils such as spoon and glasses, casual contact like shaking hands, body fluids specifically saliva, tears or sweat, insects including mosquitoes or ticks or by using the drinking fountain or toilet seat used by an infected person. As mentioned above, blood and initially mentioned body fluids has to be in contact with damaged tissues for it to be transmitted (AIDS.gov, n.d.).
History of HIV/AIDS
First cases of HIV were reported in Los Angeles when there were previously healthy homosexual men who displayed unexplainable cancer and infections that have no cure and unresponsive of treatments. There were some difficulties in identifying what specific infection caused the disease or if the infection is just an effect of another disease. Eventually, the cancer was said to be Kaposi's Sarcoma. After being reported, a story was covered by San Francisco Chronicles and within days, doctors across the continent have been reporting the similar cases. The cause was still unknown during that time. The symptoms that the patients have were quite different from the usual symptoms of Kaposi's Sarcoma.The spots formed in the new case patients were color violet and mistakenly thought as bruises, they were not itchy as well and were located in any parts of the body when usually, it appear on legs. Kaposi's Sarcoma was known to be a rare condition. It only appears to two in every six million people and usually to older men. But the new case patients were younger mostly homosexual men with mean age was 39. By end of the year, 270 cases has been reported 121 of which were already dead by the time the report was released (Altman, 1981).
Cancer is not a contagious disease but given the situation, the people were looking at the contagion of the disease, but the idea was excluded due to the fact that the disease did not go out of the homosexual community. No women have been reported to have the same symptoms (Altman, 1981).
But despite of that fact, people were still self-conscious as to what the disease is and its cause and if it can affect them or not. To some, it created discrimination to gays trying to access health care assistance while to extreme religion group, it was said to be a punishment for their sinful nature (Altman, 1981).
But after few years, when women and children started to present the same symptoms, the previous issue of gender started to disappear but was replaced with fear and hysteria as it was linked to pleasurable acts such as sexual intercourse (Smith & Whiteside, 2010).
Efforts then and now to address HIV/AIDS
Because of the lethal nature of the virus, movements and researches were conducted to find a cure for the disease, and programs was made to inform the people regarding the disease. This was called AIDS exceptionalism or the idea that response above and beyond normal health interventions is required to combat the opportunistic virus. It began as a Western response then became a disease-specific global response to the epidemic (Smith & Whiteside, 2010).
Over the 30 years since the HIV/AIDS has become known, around 25 million people already died while there are still 33 million people infected by the disease are living. The stretch of the occurrence of the disease was similar to all countries. The concentrations of people are found in specific population, location and group. More often than not, infected people are the politically and socially marginalized groups, including drug users, homosexual men in sexual relationships, and commercial sex workers (Smith & Whiteside, 2010).
During the earlier years of the mystery of AIDS government has been making efforts to inform the people on how AIDS gets transmitted but still, the stigma and discrimination prevailed. When AIDS exceptionalism rose, Western demanded for an exceptional response to protect the infected people, generate resources to assist them, and to find out how to combat the used to be mysterious disease. Gay right movements that were executed to protect homosexuals from being discriminated were supported by public health officials to avoid infected people from being tested and treated. After a few years, the movement became a global response to the said disease. Among all diseases, it gained the most resources (Smith & Whiteside, 2010).
But after few more years, a backslash of this movements happened. Some activists has been questioning as to why much resources have been allocated to this disease when it could have been allocated to other diseases as well (Smith & Whiteside, 2010).
HIV is not just viewed as a health issue but as a social issue as well as the infected people are already the socially vulnerable ones. Handling techniques was changed and transformed into more private and encouraging set-up, with this the stigma and hysteria, slowly faded (Smith & Whiteside, 2010).
In 1996, antiretroviral treatment (ART) was introduced and AIDS suddenly became a treatable disease. With the disease being detected early and the patient undergoing antiretroviral treatment it just became a chronic illness. But priorities changed from being a medical tragedy, it became a financial crisis as the treatment was very expensive (Smith & Whiteside, 2010).
Since AIDS exceptionalism was only a Western response, aside from the World Health Organization (WHO), AIDS is just another disease until 1996 when UNAIDS was formed as a joint force response of United Nations and WHO and AIDS exceptionalism became International exceptionalism. This was when the response to the disease went global, countries has been committing and donating resources to the movements for HIV cases (Smith & Whiteside, 2010)
Suddenly, HIV/AIDS was not just viewed as medical mishap in a financial tragedy, its prevalence became a threat to security as there are arising problem in terms or resources being allocated to treating the disease. ART used to cost $25, 000/ year, even if it was dropped to $10, 000/year developing countries were still not able to catch-up with the treatment. If for the West, it was just a treatable chronic illness, to developing countries, it was still a death sentence (Smith & Whiteside, 2010).
HIV could have started as a mysterious disease, but even from the very beginning, it has already posted threats to society, from social stigma to technology challenge. It has shaped scientific approach to patient and disease into another level. It also gained attention from different activist groups.
Several researches have been done to address the non-treatable issue of this disease. Although ART has already proved that it lowers the level of infection and lengthen the years of the patient as to the disease is being suppressed to not progress to AIDS, it still posts threat to a country’s social security.
The cost alone of the treatment itself is enough to decrease number of possible survivors by limiting the availability of the treatment. It goes to show that countries that are not yet developed or financially prepared are still not ready to address the issue. It just adds to the list of unresolved problems due to financial hardship of developing countries.
It proves initial assessment of the disease right that HIV/AIDS is not just a medical problem, but a social issue as well.
AIDS.gov. How do you get HIV or AIDS? https://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/hiv-aids-101/how-you-get-hiv-aids/ last accessed 2 March 2015.
Altman, K. L. (1981, July 3). Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals. The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/1981/07/03/us/rare-cancer-seen-in-41-homosexuals.html last accessed 2 March 2015.
Smith, J. H., & A. Whiteside. (2010). The history of AIDS exceptionalism. Journal of the International AIDS Society 2010, 13:47. Retrieved from http://www.biomedcentral.com/1758-2652/13/47
The SPARTAC Trail Investigators. (2013). Short-Course Antiretroviral Therapy in Primary HIV Infection. The New England Journal of Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.nejm.org/doi/ref/10.1056/NEJMoa1110039#Background
World Health Organization. HIV/AIDS. http://www.who.int/gho/hiv/en/ last accessed 2 March 2015.
The AIDS Institute. Where did AIDS come from. http://www.theaidsinstitute.org/education/aids-101/where-did-hiv-come-0. last accessed 2 March 2015.
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