Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) for which there is no known cure (Arcangelo & Peterson, 2012). There are several different stages of HIV, with the final being that of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Over the last several decades there has been improvement in the drugs used to treat HIV/AIDs (Scourfield, Waters, & Nelson, 2011). While the average survival time is around 10 years, patients with AIDS are markedly outliving this survival time, however this can lead to complacency towards HIV prevention. According to the CDC there are more than 1.2 million Americans that have HIV and 1 out of 8, or 150,000 of them, do not realize they have the disease (Control & Prevention, 2014).
While there have been advances in treatment options for HIV/AIDS, I believe that this may be one of the many reasons which can be attributed to the increase in complacency. In a study published in 2012 it was found that individuals who do not perceive HIV to be serious are less likely to get tested than those who perceive HIV to be a serious condition (Akita, Lu, Ichikawa, Tanaka, & Haruta, 2001). Therefore if individuals believe that the disease it is not a death sentence, they may be less likely to test for it. However, another reason for complacency towards HIV could be due to lack of education. Research has shown that when HIV and sex education programs are implemented in schools in the USA this leads to a reduction in risky behaviours associated with risk of HIV infection (Main et al., 1994). Besides the USA, education programs around the world has been shown to significantly reduce the occurrence of HIV (Kirby, Laris, & Rolleri, 2007).
Because of this healthcare professionals can play a pivotal role in helping to educate patients, and to also help patients perceive HIV as a serious threat to their health. By discussing the potential risks of HIV with sexually active individuals this can help reduce their risk for becoming infected. As well physicians and healthcare professionals can help to reduce the stigma by insisting that all patients get tested for HIV. By opening a dialogue will all of their patients and making it part of the normal routine of a healthcare visit this can help to increase awareness and ensure that patients are aware of how dangerous HIV infection can be (Mermin, 2009). As well healthcare practices can also offer information pamphlets and free condoms both in the waiting room and during the visit. By increasing access to condoms this can greatly help to reduce the spread of HIV (Pinkerton & Abramson, 1997).
Even after infection, it has been shown that physicians can help to increase patient adherence to medications (Krummenacher, Cavassini, Bugnon, & Schneider, 2011). As such there are several different strategies that can be used to help educate patients who have been infected with HIV to help increase their adherence to medication to help them survive long and to reduce the risk of them transmitting the disease to other people. For example to increase patient adherence to medication a combination of motivational interviews along with electronic monitoring of drugs has been shown to increase patient adherence. As well by educating these patients this can help to reduce the spread of the disease by ensuring they understand how serious it is to infect another individual (Krummenacher et al., 2011). While there is still no known cure for HIV, with advances in drug treatments people are surviving longer than ever before. However, in order to reduce the spread of the disease, education is the key to ensure that individuals take the necessary precautions to prevent infection.
- Akita, T., Lu, P., Ichikawa, S., Tanaka, K., & Haruta, M. (2001). Analytical TEM study on the dispersion of Au nanoparticles in Au/TiO2 catalyst prepared under various temperatures. Surface and Interface Analysis, 31(2), 73-78.
- Arcangelo, V. P., & Peterson, A. M. (2012). Pharmacotherapeutics for advanced practice: a practical approach: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
- Control, C. f. D., & Prevention. (2014). HIV in the United States: at a glance.
- Kirby, D. B., Laris, B., & Rolleri, L. A. (2007). Sex and HIV education programs: their impact on sexual behaviors of young people throughout the world. Journal of Adolescent Health, 40(3), 206-217.
- Krummenacher, I., Cavassini, M., Bugnon, O., & Schneider, M. P. (2011). An interdisciplinary HIV-adherence program combining motivational interviewing and electronic antiretroviral drug monitoring. AIDS care, 23(5), 550-561.
- Main, D. S., Iverson, D. C., McGloin, J., Banspach, S. W., Collins, J. L., Rugg, D. L., & Kolbe, L. J. (1994). Preventing HIV infection among adolescents: evaluation of a school-based education program. Preventive medicine, 23(4), 409-417.
- Mermin, J. (2009, November 30). From the CDC: HIV Prevention in the Doctor’s Office. Retrieved from http://www.medpagetoday.com/Columns/And-Now-a-Word/17193
- Pinkerton, S. D., & Abramson, P. R. (1997). Effectiveness of condoms in preventing HIV transmission. Social science & medicine, 44(9), 1303-1312.
- Scourfield, A., Waters, L., & Nelson, M. (2011). Drug combinations for HIV: what’s new? Expert review of anti-infective therapy, 9(11), 1001-1011.