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A Community Response to HIV/AIDS in Nigeria, Research Paper Example

Pages: 11

Words: 3085

Research Paper

The article NELA: A Community Response to HIV/AIDS in Nigeria discusses how NELA collaborates with various organizations in the fight against HIV/AIDS. They attempt to prevent the disease first by educating the population. Next, they seek to provide support and care to those who are victims of the disease. Two of their main objectives are to limit stigmatization and ensure ethics when dealing with those who have the disease. They work with other organizations to exchange information and share ideas that can be used in the fight against the disease abroad. First, NELA ensures that victims get the required support and care they need. When dealing with victims of HIV, family members and others are just as important as doctors and caregivers. Often in poverty areas, health facilities and medical outreach stations are full to capacity, in adequate, or nonexistent. NELA provides various services: (1.) HIV/AIDS counseling and testing is provided free of charge to anyone willing to receive the services. The results are confidential; those who test positive are referred to primary or secondary health facilities for further care. Those who are negative are educated on how to remain negative. (2.) The treatment of opportunistic infection are common for those who have a weaken immune system. Common infections like a common cold, fever, skin infections, or common cough are treated by medical doctors that work with NELA. Drugs are prescribed and administered by nurses. (3.) The NELA also provides short stay care. They provide care to those who might need to be hospitalized for 72 hours or less. After the short stay they are followed home and provided services and support. (4.) Home based care is very important for those who do not have family members to assist them. The in home care provided may include physical, emotional, social, and spiritual services to those affected by the disease. Essentially, victims receive the same services they would receive in a hospital at home (Soyinka, et al, 47-57).

There are some ethical and legal issues that NELA workers may face. Carrying out home based care to those with HIV/AIDS can prove challenging to maintain confidentiality. Many victims of HIV/AIDS have not disclosed their conditions to family members. When members of NELA work with family members and provide trainings to them, they must be mindful of the family member’s safety, as well as the victim’s privacy. There are some conflicts of interests that may come about when NELA researchers are working with victims. For example, many of the health care workers are researchers or are working with researchers on the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Many of the people they serve are receiving free services for participating in studies. Although the participants do not receive financial compensation, they do receive free trial drugs. Those health care workers who are researching may gain prestige, grant money for further research, and even promotions due to the success of their studies. With this being said, it is fair to say that some workers have a personal interest at stake (Blower & Schwartz, 118). This personal interest may conflict with the best interest of the participants. These interests may influence the choices that health care workers make. They may overestimate the benefits of the trial drug, while underestimating the cons of the drugs. Thus, they mislead the victims in order to complete their study.

In recent years, prior to participating in HIV vaccine trials, participants must by informed of possible cons. For example, in some trials the participants may be prevented from participating in any future vaccine trials. Also, consequent vaccines created for the disease may be less effective on those who have used prior vaccines. Finally, those who have participated in vaccines have increase reactions to HIV antibody tests (Buxton). Consequently, these participants may be limited to their international travel or ineligible for certain governmental jobs. Likewise, the consequence of discrimination is very prevalent. Discrimination has a profound effect on those who are affected by the virus, as well as their family members. As a result, the importance of confidentiality is eminent. In the midst of health interested public, confidentiality issues may stand in the way of communal well-being. Many victims of the virus are so spell-bound by the possibility of being ostracized by the public; they refuse to seek help and treatment of the virus (Burton, et al, 233-35).

The HIV/AIDS epidemic has spread from being a social problem to a nationwide problem. Epidemics have always caused great fear among people dating back to the Black Plague of the 1300s (O’Garra). Contracting HIV/AIDS plagues the victim with uncertainty and fear mostly of being ostracized and stereotyped due to the disease. This disease is so widespread that it affects the entire civilized world. Because of this disease, many people are living in poverty and thousands of children are orphaned. Almost seventy percent of new HIV cases are in Africa. Many equate these numbers to poverty, insufficient education, social/cultural barriers, and lack of medical facilities. The effects of HIV affect communities both psychologically and economically. Common good and justice are calling for global reaction to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. According to Seddon,

There are over 40 million people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide; out of these, over 28 million are in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania alone, there are over two million people infected and living with HIV/AIDS. The government has taken a number of responses since AIDS was first discovered in Tanzania in 1983” (48).

To properly resolve the discrepancies that are currently present worldwide, a vaccine must be created that will be accessible to all- regardless to economic status. Also, the many years of slave trading in third world countries, exploitation, and colonization has rendered the world unable to offer adequate assistance to those affected by HIV. Many lines of communication and trust have been broken reducing the possibilities of accepting outside help. Consequently, the pandemic in Africa has been attributed to the social and economic injustices present in Africa. As early as the 1980s, the world abroad ignored t he HIV pandemic in Africa and other countries. Others just considered HIV an African problem. Because of this disconnect and lack of response, the HIV pandemic is has run rapid in this region. Clearly, past lack of action has contributed to the crisis of today

People living in the most economically strained areas of society are most affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This has been proven true around the world. Even in the United States, those who are the least educated and poorest are affected more by the disease. Often those who contract the disease are those who are not aware of the risk factors or do not know how to protect themselves from the disease. It has been estimated that more than 1.5 million persons aged 13 and older are living with HIV/AID. In the United States, Hispanics and Latinos account for more than 22 percent of HIV infected individuals (Fauci, 289). These high numbers have been attributed to language and cultural barriers in understanding the disease. Hispanics are nearly three times more likely to contract the disease than whites in the United States. To date, more than ninety-five thousand Hispanics and Latinos have died of HIV/AIDS. In 1981, the first known case of AIDS in the United States was acknowledged. Doctors and scientists were stunned by the disease. Consequently, they wrote if off just like the cases in Africa. Early on, it was thought that this was some type of African disease. When it was recognized in the United States and the victim was a gay man, it was believed that the disease only affected gays. About 70 percent of Americans infected with HIV are between the ages of 25 and 49 years older. People over the age of 50 make up about 25 percent of the victims. More men are infected with the disease than women (Furman, Edwards, Jones, & Rowan, 145).

Between the years of 1995 and 2003 a study was conducted in California to examine how HIV vaccines were created and tested. According to the information found, a vaccine must undergo three phases before it is cleared to be used on human beings. The first phase of the vaccine lasts for about 18 months; however, the last phase can last up to 4 years. The volunteer participants help researchers adjust dosing by reporting symptoms during the first phase. In phase II, hundreds of participants test the drug and report side effects and symptoms to the doctors and researchers who are monitoring their use. By the final phase, the vaccine may have been tested by thousands of volunteers who report their usage and side effects to the health care professionals who are monitoring them. To ensure the accuracy of their reporting, there is an equal number of participants who are both positive and negative for the HIV virus. Researchers want to understand how the vaccine may affect the body and the side effects participants may encounter. In late 2013, there were three vaccines in phase II and III of the process. There were 5400 participants who were either gay or an IV drug user, or both that participated in the study. By the end of the study, neither drug proved beneficial in treating the virus. (Fauci, 189).

Social workers can be a great asset in stopping the global spread of HIV/AIDS. Social workers usually focus more on vulnerable populations than everyone in general. Social workers promote both social change and social justice. Social workers are professionally trained to work with language barriers, cultural disconnects, and economical grouping. Through their support and leadership, social workers can help eliminate the stigma placed on HIV victims. Social workers are aware of acculturation within various cultures and have the necessary tools to reach people from all walks of life. Breaking language barriers and negative stereotypes are some of the greatest challenges social workers face. For example, as early as 1993 more than 37 percent of people who were surveyed said that they believed that people with HIV should be legally separated from other people to protect the health of the general public (Furman, Edwards, Jones, & Rowan, 149). In more recent years more information and understanding about the disease have changed the minds of many, but some still feel this way today. Often, victims are unable to adequately communicate with health care providers and do not truly understand their condition. Others never seek medical attention out of fear of stigmatization. Social workers can work closely with these groups of people. A great tool that social workers use when working with people of varying cultures and beliefs is the Sex Check. This tool is used to open discussions about sexuality and HIV diagnosis. One component of the tool is the pre-recorded conversations about sex and HIV. This tool eliminates the embarrassment of talking face to face. Finally, those women who are oppressed by the men in their societies can receive assertiveness training. Often women in some societies just become victims of perpetuations of traditions. By giving women a voice, they can take control over their bodies.

The stigma of the disease is just one of the many forms of discrimination that victims of the virus face. The stigma placed on people infected with the virus only adds to the social inequalities that victims endure each day. When the person who is infected with the virus is currently a member of a minority group, the stigma makes life just that much more difficult. For example, members of the African American and LGBT groups are stigmatized by society prior to being diagnosed with the disease. More than 35 percent of African Americans report that they have faced discrimination about the sexual behaviors since being diagnosed as HIV positive (Furman, Edwards, Jones, & Rowan, 150 ). Many people still equate the disease as a “gay disease”. Others convey that they have been accused of being prostitutes or drug users because of their diagnosis. In the United States and abroad, society must be educated on how the disease is transmitted.

In the United States and abroad, the greatest threat to humanity has been the HIV/AIDS virus. Most would agree that it is the greatest public health problem that affects the world socially, economically, and geographically. In the last two decades since the onset of the disease, more than 20 million people have died worldwide due to the virus. In many other countries, the virus kills more people than diabetes, heart attacks, and car accidents in the United States combined. In many states in America, laws have been enacted to protect people from the virus. For example, in Kentucky those who are arrested for prostitution are forced to be tested for the virus and may be treated without their consent while incarcerated. In the state of Alabama no one with the virus is permitted to barber or manicure in salons. Likewise, many states have laws that are meant to protect victims of HIV from discrimination. The state of Illinois has the AIDS Confidentiality Act which allows the victim to recover damages if their status is accidentally or intentionally disclosed without their permission. Laws and regulations of this nature must be enacted worldwide in order to protect victims abroad. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is a nationwide problem that affects all of humanity.

The classic case of Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California (1976) can be applied to many situations today that include individuals who have HIV and their privacy. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that mental health professionals had a duty to protect individuals who are being threatened with bodily harm by a patient. So, when healthcare workers or mental health workers are working with persons who have HIV/AIDS, they are supposed to protect their privacy, but they also have a duty to protect others who may be harmed by not knowing of the person’s positive status. In 2012, more than 33 states had adopted the mandatory duty to warn law. There are several instances where a social worker has the duty to inform when working with HIV patients. For example, the HIV client may not want to inform his/her spouse about their positive status, or the victim may be a teen who doesn’t want his parents to know. Also, in some cases, the victim may be a drug user who shares needles. In all of these cases, the social worker may be bound by duty to report.

HIV/AIDS is a chronic disease that causes great devastation, but it is preventable. Being educated and knowledgeable about the disease is the key to eradicating it world-wide. Minorities and poverty stricken individuals are more prone to the disease because of the many barriers they face. HIV is not a Black or gay disease. Anyone who participates in risky sexual behavior may become a victim. In order to annihilate this disease, nations, families, communities, and cultures must work together educate and make medical attention available to those in need. NELA has made great strides in the world of HIV. Their main objectives are to limit stigmatization and ensure ethics when dealing with those who have the disease. HIV is a social and emotional issue that affects both the victims and their families. Victims face many forms of discrimination due to the stigma associated with the disease. Many states have enacted laws to protect the victims of HIV from discrimination. Likewise, there are laws that are in place to protect potential victims from those who are HIV positive. Social workers are instrumental in educating people about the disease and linking those with the disease to the resources that they need. Finally, the classic case of Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California (1976) has set precedents in the way in which social workers, health care workers, and mental health workers provide confidentiality to their clients.

Works Cited

Blower, S., E. J. Schwartz, et al. (2003). Forecasting the future of HIV epidemics: the Impact of antiretroviral therapies & imperfect vaccines. AIDS Rev 5(2): 113-25.

Burton, D. R., R. C. Desrosiers, et al. (2004). HIV vaccine design and the neutralizing antibody problem. Nat Immunol 5(3): 233-6

Buxton, R. (2001). Superbugs-the problem of antimicrobial resistance. Mill Hill Essays.

Fauci, A., (2008). 25 Years of HIV. Nature 453(1): 289-90.

Furman, R.; Edwards, K; Jones, A. & Rowan, D. (2008). Social work practice with Latinos with hiv/aids. Advances in Social Work, 9, 142-156.

O’Garra, A. (2012). Immune signatures in disease and visions for their future use. Mill Hill Essays.

Seddon, B. (2012). A key for every lock in the universe-the blindlocksmith? Mill Hill Essays

Soyinka, Femi, et al. “A Community Response To HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.” Convergence 37.4(2004): 47-57. Eric. Web. 26 Nov.2015

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