HIV/AIDS in the United States
Grand Canyon University: NRS-427V
April 06, 2014
HIV/AIDS in the United States
Scientists identified simian immunodeficiency virus, in chimpanzees in West Africa, as the source of the mutated human virus through contact with the chimpanzee’s infected blood (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) is a preventable, transmissible infection first reported in the United States (U.S.) in 1981. More than 30 years later, HIV infection continues to spread in epidemic proportion discernable by reported demographic information. The community health nurse (CHN) performs many rolls to support ...view middle of the document...
The process of budding releases viral replicants to infect other CD4 cells; thus, the process of multiplication invades most or all CD4 cells rendering the immune system ineffective and unable to fight off OIs. Cause of death is commonly related to the overwhelming effects of OIs.
Symptoms of HIV occur in successive stages specific to the level of CD4 level damage incurred. In stage I, acute retroviral syndrome (ARS) or primary HIV infection, occurs within two to four weeks resembling flu like symptoms resulting from the body’s immune response to the rapidity of viral replication; oppositely, some infected people may not display any symptoms at all. In stage II, clinical latency (asymptomatic or chronic HIV infection), the virus is still active but replicates at a much slower pace and individuals rarely display symptoms for ten years or more. Stage III encompasses the advancement to AIDS and occurs when the immune system is severely damaged (CD4 count less than 200 cells/mm3) leaving the person vulnerable to OIs. Generalized symptoms of AIDS include: diarrhea lasting more than a week; dry cough; memory loss, depression and neurological disorders; profound, unexplained fatigue; rapid weight loss; recurring fever or profuse night sweats; red, brown, pink or purplish blotches on or under the skin or inside the mouth, nose or eyelids; swollen glands in the armpits, groin or neck; white spots or unusual blemishes on the tongue, in the mouth or in the throat. OI specific symptoms will also be displayed in this stage.
Mode of transmission
HIV is transmissible through exposure to disrupted skin and the mucous membranes (e.g., rectum, vagina, penile meatus, mouth and eyes) to contaminated body fluids (e.g., blood, semen, pre-seminal, rectal, vaginal and breast milk). Additionally, mother-to-child transmission can occur during pregnancy, the birthing process or while breastfeeding by the same mechanisms. HIV is not spread through saliva and does not survive long or replicate outside the body.
As the body’s immune system fails, complications arise as secondary co-infections invade the body. Opportunistic infections like tuberculosis, Kaposi’s sarcoma, pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, HIV-related encephalopathy and Cryptosporidiosis are complications of AIDS. These secondary infections are commonly the cause of death in the AIDS patient.
Treatment for HIV encompasses antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART should be initiated when the CD4 count falls, below 350 cells/mm3 (normal value 500-1000 cells/mm3), to treat the viral load (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010). As HIV gives way to AIDS, ART is combined with treatments geared specifically to invading OIs thus becoming a life-extending priority.
A more complete list of defining opportunistic conditions, signs/symptoms and their treatments can be found at http://www.ucsfhealth.org/condition/aids/signs_and_symptoms.html.