Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is transmitted through the contact with particular body fluids of an infected person. The major transmission pathways include unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing of needles and syringes (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2018a). Less frequently, HIV can be communicated from a mother to a child during pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding, as well as the exposure of wounds and sores to the contaminated blood (CDC, 2018a). After entering the body, the virus attacks T cells, which are responsible for the protection of the organism from various diseases, such as cancers, and opportunistic infections. When a significant number of these cells are damaged, an infected person develops acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
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HIV/AIDS Prevalence and Incidence in Uganda
HIV/AIDS commenced actively disseminating in the African region in the 1970’s. However, in Uganda, the infection incidence started to decline during the 1990’s yet, nowadays, it remains high with an estimated total number of HIV-positive individuals equaled 1,400,000 (Musinguzi et al., 2014). Recent statistics indicate “HIV adult prevalence of 7.2% among the 15-49 year age group” which slightly rose up since 2005 (Musinguzi et al., 2014, p. e85646). The numbers can be explained by the behavioral patterns associated with the given demographic group.
Nowadays, there is no remedy that could cure HIV/AIDS in medical practice. Thus, once infected, a person acquires the disease for a lifetime. However, HIV can be controlled through the retroviral therapy (ART). As stated by CDC (2018b), “if people with HIV take ART as prescribed, their viral load (amount of HIV in their blood) can become undetectable” (para. 6). It means that strict adherence to ART and early onset of the treatment may help an HIV-positive individual to prevent and postpone the progression of AIDS. For this reason, the access to the given treatment option is essential.
The major risk for HIV transmission identified among the Ugandan adult population is the engagement in risk-taking behaviors. For example, it is observed that “an increasing proportion of Ugandans had sex with high-risk partners, acquired multiple sexual partners, and inconsistently used condoms” during the last decade (Musinguzi et al., 2014). For this reason, the main possible way to reduce the hazard is to practice safer sexual behaviors. Additionally, many individuals have misconceptions about this disease and have a fear of HIV/AIDS, as well as its disclosure. Promotion of voluntary HIV testing and education of individuals and communities about the virus-related health issues may significantly reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS in Uganda.
Every chronic condition requires behavioral interventions because individuals play a major role in the maintenance of their health. Basic self-management practices include goal setting in collaboration with a qualified health practitioner, regular monitoring of symptoms, change of lifestyle patterns (dieting, exercising, et cetera), and compliance with medication prescription (Institute for Health Improvement, 2018). The preparation of a person for the engagement in self-management of HIV is crucial because it is important to asses and to detect the existing environmental barriers that may interfere with proper care.
Diet and Nutrition
Nutrition and HIV progression are positively correlated. It is observed that the HIV-related immune impairment can lead to malnutrition, which, in turn, causes the aggravation of the immune impairment and “worsens the effect of HIV and contributes to more rapid progression to AIDS” (World Health Organization [WHO], 2001, p. 12). Thus, adequate dieting, as well as sufficient physical activity, is pivotal. HIV-positive individuals should remain active and should follow the basic diet directions. They include eating a variety of healthy foods, eating in small amounts, and avoidance of alcohol and other detrimental substances (WHO, 2001). It can help prevent the loss of muscle mass and weight and increase one’s ability to cope with the disease.
To gain more awareness regarding current efforts undertaken in the country for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, one may refer to the National Guidelines for HIV Treatment in Uganda, as well as the National Guidelines for the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV in Uganda, published by the Ministry of Health (2009).
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018a). HIV transmission. Web.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018b). About HIV/AIDS. Web.
Institute for Health Improvement. (2018). HIV/AIDS: Self-management and adherence. Web.
Ministry of Health. (2009). National Guidelines for HIV Treatment in Uganda. Web.
Musinguzi, G., Bwayo, D., Kiwanuka, N., Coutinho, S., Mukose, A., Kabanda, J., … Nuwaha, F. (2014). Sexual behavior among persons living with HIV in Uganda: Implications for policy and practice. PLoS ONE, 9(1), e85646.
World Health Organization. (2001). HIV/AIDS: A guide for nutrition, care, and support. Web.