AIDS is a disease that that destroys the immune system of human beings. The word AIDS means Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or Acquired Immunodeficiency syndrome. This disease damages the human immune system and after sometime, the body immune is badly damaged living the victim prone to other opportunistic diseases and tumors. AIDS affect the body of the person infected gradually and it is difficult to tell whether you have it or not during the early days of infection. This is because the disease has a long asymptomatic period when its symptoms are hardly realized. It is after certain duration of time when the infected person develops some observable symptoms. AIDS currently has no cure and this is the reason why many of the HIV positive people are stigmatized.
The disease is not gender, sex or age sensitive. Every person can get as long as he/she is exposed to the virus. Impacts of the disease to the body of the victim depends the health of that person. Currently, AIDS disease is a pandemic and it has claimed lives of many people worldwide (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS & World Health Organization, 2006).
It is very evident that any person can get AIDS disease if exposed to the virus that causes it. However, for this discussion, the population addressed is that of the young/youths who are below 25 years of age. This is a group of people characterized by a high prevalence of AIDS. The disease is not treatable currently but with good management, people with AIDS can live longer. Funny enough, AIDS is not waterborne or air borne disease but the rate at which it is spreading is alarming. By 2007, AIDS had claimed lives of over 33.3 million people and majority of these people were from the Sub Saharan desert.
AIDS is caused by the HIV virus, which attacks the immunity system such that one becomes HIV positive. After the virus is mature, it is converted into AIDS, which is now the disease that eats and damages the body of the individual. Therefore, the agent of this disease is a virus called Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This Virus normally survives only in the human blood. When the virus enters into the body, patients do not show any symptoms at the early stages and this has made it difficult to control. HIV virus needs to stay into the body system of the infected person before he/she starts to develop the symptoms. It is also difficult to test for the virus in the body of a person if he/she was exposed to the virus in duration less than three months (UNAIDS, 2009). One of the factors contributing to the spread of the disease is that doctors are not able to detect the presence of the virus in the blood samples of persons who are have not had the virus for a period of up to three months.
The mode of transmission of the disease is generally from human being to another human being. The is no unlike the other diseases such as Malaria or even Anthrax which require vectors for them to be transmitted, HIV virus does not require any vector for transmission. It is spread directly from one person to another through contacts of the mucous membrane or blood stream with the body fluids containing the HIV virus. When body fluids from a person who is HIV positives comes into contact with the blood stream or wet openings of a person who does not have the virus, there is likelihood of that person being infected with HIV virus too.
Among the body fluids that contain the HIV virus from an infected person, include saliva, blood, semen, breast milk, pre-seminal fluids and vaginal fluids. The youths/ teenagers are the major victims of HIV/AIDS currently because they are involved in activities that increase the likelihood of their body fluids coming into contact directly or indirectly. There are activities that normally bring the body fluids of the individuals involved and consequently they are believed to contribute in transmission of the HIV virus from the body of the infected person to then non-infected person. The first and the most common way in which HIV virus is transmitted from one person to the other is through the unprotected sexual affair. Here the fluids from the man’s ejaculation and the vaginal fluids of the woman contain the HIV viruses if any of then is infected. These viruses find their way into the uninfected partner through the reproductive organs. This could be vaginal or even anal. The other modes of transmission include through blood transfusion, mother to child during birth and pregnancy or breastfeeding and sharing of the non-sterilized piercing tools such as syringes.
The above are the major mode of transmission in which HIV virus is spread from one person to the other. However, other many activities also contribute in the spread of the virus that causes AIDS. These include all the activities that may lead to body fluids from the infected (HIV-positive) person coming into contact with the mucous membrane or the blood system of the non-infected (HIV-negative) person. These occurrences include accidents and other incidences which when they occur, body fluids from different people are likely to come into contact.
As stated above in the introduction, this research is emphasizing on the spread of HIV/AIDS among the youths/ teenagers, and why members of this group are the main victims of this killer disease. First, it should be clear that this is the most active group of people in the society. Therefore, this group of people is automatically expected to be vulnerable to activities that can increase the likelihood of them contracting the HIV virus (UNAIDS, 2009). Sexual contact is the major mode in which AIDS causing virus is transmitted. These Youths compose the group of the most sexually active group of people among the society. This raises their chances of getting the disease because they are the ones who are involved in many sexual activities.
Teenagers are also very eager and they like putting many things into practice so that they can prove the end-results. Therefore, they are the ones who are most likely to be involved in unprotected sex and other activities such as deep kissing, sharing perching tools especially during circumcision and other cultural practices. It is at this age that many people are getting married and there is need for having children. If one of the two partners is infected, there is a high chance of the other partner contracting the disease because they cannot make children and have protected sex at the same time. Another reason why this group of people is very vulnerable to getting this disease is the exposure that people have at this age (UNAIDS, 2009). This is the time when many people leave their parents’ households and start life of their own. Therefore, there is no direct monitoring of their activities by the parents. This has led to many young people being indulged in activities such as drug taking and even prostitution. These practices have made the young people vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS virus.
Many environmental factors have contributed to this group of population being vulnerable to contracting AIDS causing virus. These environmental factors could be social, economical and even psychological. Talking of economical environmental factors, poverty or richness makes this population of the society more likely to contract HIV virus than other people in the society. Firstly, it is at this age that people start to live their own lives and making their own wealth in order to improve and sustain their own lives. When life becomes hard and there is no income for the young people to finance the expenses, some are tempted to get involved in immoral activities such as prostitution in order to earn living. On the other hard, when young people are in control of a lot of wealth, they are involved in many luxurious activities such as alcohol taking and drug substance abuse. This makes them indulge in unwanted sexual activities and in most cases unprotected sex. As a result of these practices, their rate of contracting HIV virus is very high.
About the social environmental factors, many things have changed on the youths’ social life. In the olden days, sex was treated as holy and it was preserved only for the married people. Currently sex is treated as a form of recreation and it is practiced by young people in the society who are not even married. Other forms of sex have developed such as anal oral sex and this has made broad the area of sex because nowadays even people from the same sex do practice it (UNAIDS, 2009). The society has also become very reluctant in controlling the changes that are mostly implemented by the young people. This has made the young people very vulnerable to HIV/AIDS disease. Psychologically, the issue of sex and drugs taking is no longer a thing to hide. Many of the young people are aware of many things concerning them and the contribution they have to spreading of HIV/AIDS disease. Young people have made their minds and it is difficult to put some sense in them concerning HIV/AIDS.
There is no cure for HIV/AIDS disease and that why protection is the only alternative that can be used to prevent the spread of this disease. Firstly, young people are encouraged to abstain from sex and other activities such as substance abusing in order to avoid getting the virus. There are regular advertisements and campaigns against the spread of AIDS and whose main aim is to enlighten the public, and especially the youth, on how the disease is spread and how to avoid contracting the disease. There are voluntary counseling and testing centers where people are informed on how to live with HIV/AIDS disease. Here people are advised to be tested so that they can get to know his/her health and know how to live positively. Those having the virus are provided with antiretroviral drugs, which help preventing the mortality and morbidity of HIV/AIDS disease.
Other methods that are used to prevent spreading of the disease include proper scrutinizing of blood before transfusion, avoiding sharing of piercing tools and encouraging people to know their status before marriage. Married couples are support to be faithful to one another and use condom to protect themselves any time they have sex. Young people have come up with many ways which they believe prevent contracting HIV/AIDS such as practicing anal sex, showering after sexual intercourse, and even having sex with a virgin. All this are just misconceptions and they hardly contribute in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. If anything, these practices increase the chances of getting the disease.
Some social and cultural practices influence the spreading of the disease. Practices such as traditional circumcision whereby people share one knife and wife inheritance as it is in some cultures in Africa, have increased the rate in which HIV/AIDS is spreading. Some social influences such as stigmatization have made it difficult to ensure that those who are infected are getting the proper treatment and care because people do not want to be associated with HIV/AIDS patients (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS & World Health Organization, 2006).
Cultural influences such as associating the disease with a curse have made it difficult for the people to accept AIDS as a disease and prevent themselves from it. Young people believe that HIV/AIDS is a disease for the people in urban areas. There are those who believe that this disease is for those who practice prostitution. Others associate the disease with those who are thin and worn out. They believe that if a person appears healthy from the looks all is fine with them. These beliefs have made the fight against HIV/AIDS among the young people less successful. Therefore, it is very clear that HIV/AIDS is a threat to the lives of the young and productive people in the society. Young people are under threat and public health institutions in collaboration with the government are supposed to come up with more appropriate strategies to save young people from this killer disease.
UNAIDS, (2009), 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic, World Health Organization publishers
Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS & World Health Organization, (2006), AIDS epidemic update: December 2006, World Health Organization publishers