Identify one health condition and discuss the impact on an individual and or wider society

6 June 2016

This essay will focus on the health condition of (HIV) Human immunodeficiency virus and its impact on an individual’s wellbeing. A number of key dictionary definitions will follow. According to the Oxford Dictionaries (2013) Health is defined as “A person’s medical and physical condition”. HIV is human immunodeficiency virus, a retrovirus which causes Aids. Oxford dictionaries (2013). These definitions refer to the Medical Model of health which focuses on the presence of disease and therefore the physical condition of the individual. According to Dr.David Zigmond (2ndmay 2010) The Medical Model assumes a simple mechanical view of illness and the body it occurs in.

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The impact HIV and Aids has on an individual’s wellbeing
The HIV virus attacks the immune system and weakens the ability to fight off infections and disease. According to Avert.org (2012) in the last 30 years 35,493 people between the ages of 20-30 were diagnosed with HIV in the UK (appendix 1). There are a variety of ways that the Aids virus can be contracted. According to the Health protection agency (2012), 95% of those with HIV contracted the virus through sexual contact. The remaining 5% by using infected needles or transmission from mother to baby, before or during birth, or by breastfeeding.

According to BBC news (2013) there are around 90,000 people living with HIV in England. One person in four does not know they have the virus therefore the actual numbers cannot be determined. According to the BBC news (24th April 2013) someone, somewhere in the UK is diagnosed with HIV every 90 minutes. Once an individual has contracted the HIV virus, emotionally it may be very difficult to come to terms and every individual will react differently. There are many support groups and HIV clinics that can provide you with counselling and information so that you can understand and discuss the condition all around the UK. Families may often provide the best emotional support and care (appendix 4).

The new It Starts With Me campaign, created by the Terrence Higgins Trust, urges people in high-risk groups to get tested for HIV at least every 12 months, and more frequently if they have symptoms or have put themselves at risk by having unprotected sex. For example this can help provide support and awareness. An HIV aids forum concluded that if individuals attended support groups it was a positive ‘life changing experience’. .

However, according to Dr.Crook on the BBC news 31st May 2011 The stigma attached to having HIV means people are not coming forward for testing. Many individuals with HIV virus do not seek support, they may face prejudice as a result of their condition, and the social stigma surrounding AIDS may stop people discussing it (appendix 2a). Religious pressure and ignorance of how HIV is transmitted can lead to discrimination against people living with HIV (National Aids Trust (2011) Appendix 2b).

Some of individuals are scared to tell their parents, family and friends fearing rejection. They may feel stressed, be angry, be in denial and/or they are at high risk of mental health problems, especially depression and anxiety (aidsinfonet.org (2012) appendix 2c). According to Randy Lambert yahoo contributor network (2010) finding out that you are HIV positive can have a major impact on your mental health. It may result in an early death not caused by the virus, using illegal substances, living recklessly, and becoming high suicide risk. According to nam aidsmap (2008) since 1990, nearly 2% of the approximately 14,000 HIV positive people who have died in the UK have taken their own lives.

These points suggest that it depends on the individual and the help they seek and if they do not access the correct medical help it can course extreme consequences and the mental impact may be devastating. Physically there are three stages of HIV according to aids.gov(2013) (appendix 3). According to the Nhs (2012) in the early stages most people infected with HIV experience a short period of flu like symptoms two to six weeks after infection. stages 2 and 3, if left untreated, it will weaken ability to fight infection so much that you become vulnerable to serious illnesses and may only live for 3 years, this stage of infection is known as AIDS.

At this stage the person infected will experience nightsweats, lack of motivation, persistantant tiredness, significant weight loss, diarrhoea, shortness of breath, swollen glands and a fever over 37 degrees that last weeks, it is shown once aids has taken over your body at this stage you have an increased risk of developing and
catching life-threatening illnesses. According to aidsmap and the NHS (2012 ) the average life expectancy for people who are HIV positive in the UK is 60. According to the NHS (2012) there is medication to treat HIV, but there is no cure.

The medication taken is Antiretroviral drugs (appendix ). According to the BBC news 1st December 2012) it estimated In 2011, there were 2.5 million new infections – down 700,000 from the 2001 figure – and an estimated 1.7 million people died from Aids-related illnesses. That was 600,000 fewer than in 2005. each year treatment costs for someone diagnosed with HIV is £320,000, Or £1.2bn over their lifetimes. Therefore this shows physically people are living longer and medication has been more effective over the years.

Problems ahead desensitised the word HIV and Aids There are claims that some HIV prevention charities are not spending their money effectively and the major charities in the field have fiddled around the edges and not confronted the major problem – that sex without condoms is increasing. There is still too much ignorance about HIV and Aids. The impact HIV has on the individual and their wellbeing may be mentally and socially challenging and life changing experience. More needs to be done to promote safe sex and the impact HIV has on the indivual mentally and socially not just physically.

There is treatment out there for the physical aspect of HIV available from their GP or Nhs hospitals which ha hown to be effective.Whereas the social and mental aspects are available to people it just if they are abe and willing to acces it. The Department of Health said (2011) with no cure, prevention and safe sex were key.

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