HIV/AIDS Spread and the Impact on the Healthcare System

The WHO’s statistics for 2012 indicated that approximately 35 million people were living with HIV/AIDS. Moreover, the number of new infections continues to rise (WHO, 2012). The increase in the number of HIV/AIDS patients is a serious challenge since it strains the limited healthcare resources. In particular, meeting the needs of HIV/AIDS patients is difficult since most of them live in low and middle-income countries that lack adequate healthcare resources. The fear of being infected also leads to absenteeism and unwillingness to work with people infected with HIV/AIDS among health professionals. This negatively affects the quality of healthcare services provided to HIV/AIDS patients (Blankenship, Friedman, Dworkin, & Mantell, 2006, pp. 59-72). In Sub-Sahara Africa, most healthcare systems are characterized by challenges such as lack of financial resources, high cost of treatment, poorly equipped clinics, and lack of social support. These challenges have partly contributed to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the region.

In low-income countries such as Uganda, there is a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS because of limited access to healthcare. Moreover, the high prevalence of the disease suggests that there are inadequate resources to treat HIV/AIDS patients (Shah & Reid, 2009, pp. 173-184). Unlike the low-income countries, middle and high-income countries have sufficient resources and availability of healthcare services. However, a large number of citizens still live with HIV/AIDS in middle and high-income countries. Generally, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS tends to be high in the low-income and marginalized areas of society in all countries (Altman, 2007, pp. 203-213).

Various countries have developed and implemented different structural interventions to control the spread of HIV/AIDS. In low-income countries, especially, in Sub-Sahara Africa, the interventions that are considered appropriate for controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS include the promotion of education and the use of a condom (Reid, et al., 2006, pp. 483-495). In addition, social and financial support should be provided to vulnerable groups such as sex workers. The government should also implement appropriate policies to promote access to healthcare among HIV/AIDS patients. These interventions are expected to reduce vulnerability to HIV/AIDS infection at the individual level. They are also likely to reduce infection among groups such as homosexuals who are vulnerable due to their unsafe sexual behaviors (Reid, et al., 2006, pp. 483-495). Consequently, the burden of HIV/AIDS on the fragile healthcare systems in low-income regions such as Sub-Sahara Africa will reduce significantly.

High-income countries have effectively used interventions such as education and needle bins to reduce HIV/AIDS infections. The World Health Organization has developed a “global health sector strategy of HIV/AIDS for 2011-2015” (WHO, 2012). Some of these strategies include synthesizing evidence on current interventions and determining how effective and safe they are; improving availability and quality of diagnostic tools and treatment for HIV/AIDS; and providing support and monitoring progress of health-sector responses towards achieving easy and universal access to HIV services and healthcare (WHO, 2012). The main objective of these strategies is to reduce the impact and prevalence of HIV/AIDS. They also promote the treatment of those already infected.

References

Altman, D. (2007). Rights matter: Structural interventions and vulnerable communities. Health and Human Rights, 8(1), 203-213.

Blankenship, M., Friedman, R., Dworkin, S., & Mantell, E. (2006). Structural interventions: Concepts, challenges, and opportunities for research. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 83(1), 59-72.

Reid, A., Scano, F., Getahun, H., Williams, B., Dye, C., Cook, K., et al. (2006). Towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support: The role of tuberculosis/HIV collaboration. Lancet Infectious Disease, 6(1), 483-495.

Shah, S., & Reid, M. (2009). Approaches to tuberculosis screening and diagnosis in people with HIV in resource-limited settings. Lancet Infectious Diseases, 9(1), 173-184.

WHO. (2012). Global health observatory. Web.

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