Hiv/Aids In Zimbabwe Essay

1178 words - 5 pages

HIV/AIDS in ZimbabweThis paper discusses a disease that is endemic to a particular geographic and cultural setting: HIV in Zimbabwe. The pathogenesis, types of transmission, diagnosis, and treatment of HIV/AIDS has been summarized here. Furthermore, aspects of health promotion and possible strategies to control and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in the Zimbabwean population, as suggested in published literature, are outlined.HIV is a pandemic, affecting individuals in both developing and developed countries. Each year millions of new infections and deaths occur globally. According to UNAIDS preventative measures that have been taken in Zimbabwe are showing a decline in the occurrence of HIV (UNAIDS, 2010). However, it was estimated that in 2009, 1.1 million adults and children in Zimbabwe were living with HIV/AIDS, from a total population of 12 million (UNAIDS, 2010).PathogenesisHIV is a DNA retrovirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The virus is capable of adhering to and entering helper T cells, after which it incorporates its own DNA into the host cell's genome via reverse transcriptase and integrase enzymes, it then activates the synthesis of new viral proteins (Huether & McCance, 2008). This leads to assembly of new virus particles that leave the host cell, destroying it in the process (Huether & McCance,2008). The HIV virus has a preference for immune cells, particularly CD4+ T cells. Thus, the replication of HIV within T cells over several years leads to depletion of CD4+ T cell stores in the body. It eventually leads to significant viremia and depletion of T cells to such a low extent that secondary infections start to develop. The appearance of this condition is called the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). These infections, despite the use of aggressive management, can be fatal for the patient.TransmissionThe HIV virus circulates in the patient's blood and is transmitted between individuals by intravenous drug use, intimate sexual contact (both heterosexual and homosexual), and exposure to body fluids such as blood, semen, and vaginal secretions, but not sweat or saliva. Heterosexual contact is believed to be the major source of disease transmission in Zimbabwe (UNAIDS, 2010). Mother-to-child transmission during delivery and through breast milk is the second most important mode of transmission (UNAIDS, 2010).DiagnosisAccording to Simon, Ho, and Karim (2006), the diagnosis of HIV is based on the detection of specific antibodies and/or antigens. The rapid HIV-1 antibody test is important for surveillance, screening, and diagnosis, however there are two limitations to this test: detection of infection during primary infection when antibodies are absent and detection in infants under 18 months who may still have their mothers antibodies present (Simon et al., 2006). Once diagnosis is established, staging of the disease is done by assessing serum viral load and CD4+ cell counts, which help to assess the...

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