Course excerpt from HIV/AIDS: Adherence Issues
HIV and AIDS are medical terms that are linked together due to the progressive nature of HIV, with the end result of untreated (or undertreated) HIV being AIDS. The acronym stands for:
I: Immuno-deficiency. The virus creates a deficiency in the person’s immune system so it does not work properly to fight disease.
V: Virus. The organism is viral; it replicates itself by hijacking the person’s cells.
A: Acquired. This is not a genetic condition, but an infection that is acquired through a person’s actions or by transmission through infected blood.
I: Immune. The immune system is affected.
D: Deficiency. It makes the immune system deficient in the capacity to fight infection.
S: Syndrome. The compromised immune system allows many different infections and diseases to take hold. Each person has a different experience of AIDS symptoms.
It is important to adopt an inclusive description of those populations who are affected by HIV/AIDS. The virus affects people of all ages, from children born to mothers with HIV, to adolescents, to adults, and elders. While having sex or sharing drug injection equipment with someone who is infected with HIV causes most cases of HIV, it has also affected some individuals who were infected by blood transfusions prior to general testing of the blood supply in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s. Although the first cases began to surface in 1981, it was not until 1985 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed the first commercial blood test, ELISA, to detect antibodies to HIV in the blood. At that time, blood banks began screening the U.S. blood supply (AIDS.gov – https://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/hiv-aids-101/aids-timeline/). Some of the individuals who were infected in those early days are still living today.
Casual contact cannot spread the disease. Shaking hands, using a toilet after a person with HIV, or drinking from a public water fountain will not transmit the disease. HIV is primarily transmitted through behaviors such as:
- Sex with someone who has HIV. The highest risk is anal sex, but other types of sex are also risky.
- Having multiple sex partners.
- Having other sexually transmitted diseases increases the risk of HIV infection during sex.
- Sharing drug equipment such as syringes, needles, rinse water, or other equipment.
Unlike other viruses, the body cannot remove HIV completely. Once a person has HIV, it is there for life. The quality – and quantity – of that life will depend on adherence with treatment. People with HIV can live almost normal lifespans and have little risk of transmitting the disease if they use antiretroviral therapy appropriately under medical care and avoid risky behaviors. However, only 30% of HIV-infected people are compliant enough with treatment to achieve viral suppression.
HIV/AIDS: Adherence Issues is a 1-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course for healthcare professionals that discusses adherence issues in populations at high risk for HIV infection, as well as strategies for healthcare professionals to encourage patients to seek and maintain medical treatment. Course #10-88 | 2015 | 17 pages | 10 posttest questions
For a more detailed discussion, see the 3-hour course HIV/AIDS: Therapy & Adherence (these courses contain common material).
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