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Health Issue: Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome


HIV/AIDS is a major healthcare issue affecting millions of people across the globe. Those who get infected tend will lead poor and unhealthy lives if they fail to get the relevant medication and disease management procedures. Health professionals have been keen to complete numerous studies and research to get a clear understanding of this viral disease, the body systems it affects, and the major economic issues associated with it. The formulated Level 2 questions for this discussion include: How and which body systems does HIV affect and what economic impacts and challenges are associated with HIV/AIDS as a major health concern in the world today? The purpose of this discussion is to offer concrete answers and analyses to these writing prompts.

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How and Which Body Systems Does HIV/AIDS Affect?

The complexity of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) makes it one of the deadliest illnesses affecting human beings today. This condition will develop when the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) gets into the body and starts to eliminate “CD4+ T-helper lymphocytes” (Mandal, 2019, p. 1). The virus will weaken the immune system and make it impossible for the body to fight various opportunistic conditions. However, the progression of these disease-causing microorganisms depends on a person’s health, age, availability of medication, and time of diagnosis. A detailed analysis of the major systems that this disease attacks and its effects can guide more individuals and medical professionals to consider the importance of antiretroviral therapy (ART).

First, the primary target of HIV is the immune system despite being the primary source of protection against various infections and diseases. The presence of white blood cells and lymphocytes in the blood will ensure that a person does not become sick. However, the virus will start to attack this system and diminish its disease-fighting capability (Pietrangelo & Cherney, 2020). The reduction of CD4+ count in the human body will create a scenario whereby a person becomes more prone to minor infections (Mandal, 2019). Some of the common conditions that might occur include Kaposi sarcoma, cancer, diarrhea, and eye infections.

Second, the onset of AIDS in the body weakens the respiratory system by weakening the lungs. The absence of immunity combined with the destruction of this vital system will expose the body to colds, pneumonia, and even influenza. The patient might also have a higher chance of developing tuberculosis (Pietrangelo & Cherney, 2020). Affected persons will experience persistent cough, breathing difficulties, and fever (Mandal, 2019). The risk of getting lung cancer is higher in persons infected with HIV/AIDS. In most individuals, tuberculosis and lung cancer are some of the leading causes of death. The diminished immunity exposes the individual to pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a condition that is known to strain the heart.

Third, an HIV patient’s digestive system will become less effective and susceptible to various infections. Depending on the level of infection and viral load in the body, the patient might record reduced appetite or have difficulties eating and digesting food. The person will start to lose weight after the onset of AIDS (Pietrangelo & Cherney, 2020). Esophageal inflammation and oral thrush might occur and affect the eating habits of an individual. White lesions called oral hairy leukoplakia (OHL) tend to appear on the tongue.

Fourth, the diminished immunity in the body will affect the optimal functioning of the major cells that support the human brain and the entire nervous system. The virus has the capability to destroy nerve cells, a condition called neuropathy, and trigger the development of small holes in the nerve fibers. Such a process would result in vacuolar melopathy which is associated with walking difficulty, body weakness, and unexplained pain (Mandal, 2019). Additional complications of AIDS might occur in advanced disease stages, such as spinal cord and brain inflammation. The individual might start to experience unexplained seizures, prolonged headaches, and confusion. The patient will eventually suffer from anxiety, memory impairment, and depression (Pietrangelo & Cherney, 2020). Consequently, hallucinations, vision problems, and psychosis might occur in some people.

What Economic Impacts and Challenges are Associated with HIV/AIDS?

The nature of HIV/AIDS compels patients to fight it for a prolonged period. Every affected person will at some point in his or her life be forced to seek medical care and remain indoors. The individuals will lose their jobs, thereby reducing the overall income of their respective families. This process occurs at a time when the patient will be in need of specialized medical services and care. Consequently, some of the young children might be unable to get the best education due to the lack of school fees and social support systems. A study by Dauda (2018) revealed that over 87 percent of all patients had their livelihoods and experiences affected by this condition. Women will tend to be affected the most when their husbands die of HIV/AIDS since they have to take care of their children single-handedly. Additionally, some family members and relatives might begin to blame them for the spouse’s illness.

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In the developing world, HIV/AIDS is one of the conditions that trigger severe economic implications. For instance, Pietrangelo and Cherney (2020) reveal that this disease mostly infects and affects individuals who are more productive in a given community. This outcome means that young adults will die prematurely and eventually affect the overall performance of the economy. The increased reduction of labor in a given country means that the level of gross domestic product (GDP) will reduce significantly. Consequently, more people will be unable to receive timely support and infrastructure systems from the government. This argument explains why unique disparities continue to be experienced in countries that have not succeeded in containing the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The cost associated with the management and treatment of HIV/AIDS is directly proportional to the negative economic impacts recorded in different countries across the globe. Many developing countries have to incur additional expenses to provide the relevant drugs and care to patients who have the condition. Similarly, family members and friends will have their income levels strained to meet the overall health and funeral expenses of their loved ones (Dauda, 2018). These developments will result in reduced social mobilities and make it impossible for more people to achieve their aims in life. Sometimes fundraising initiatives become the only to provide the required medical support to the identified patient.

Since governments and individuals will have to channel their savings to treat HIV/AIDS patients, the overall level of investment will reduce significantly and eventually affect the growth of the economy. Some people might decide to sell their assets to meet their medical expenses or those of their family members. In many developing countries, the percentage of school dropouts directly related to this disease will increase significantly (Schwetz & Fauci, 2019). Consequently, such a process will ensure that the cycle of poverty remains uninterrupted. These developments and forces explain why HIV/AIDS remains a major economic issue in many developing and developed countries.

The challenges and factors outlined in this section explain why governments across the globe should consider powerful initiatives to educate and train more people about the negative impacts of HIV/AIDS and how they can protect themselves against it. Such campaigns should focus on the economic implications of this condition and how it affects the wider population and even the entire economy. With proper empowerment, support, and guidance, more people will overcome these risks while those who might be having the condition will seek timely medical support (Schwetz & Fauci, 2019). Such beneficiaries will eventually remain productive and overcome most of these problems.


The above discussion has identified HIV/AIDS as a major healthcare issue affecting the world today. Specifically, the analysis focused on how and which body systems the diseases affect and the economic impacts and challenges associated with it. This condition will make it impossible for the respiratory, immune, digestive, and central nervous systems to function optimally, thereby setting the stage for different opportunistic diseases, such as lung cancer, depression, tuberculosis, Kaposi sarcoma, pneumonia, influenza, and hallucinations. From an economic perspective, HIV/AIDS results in loss of labor increased medical costs, and reduced GDP. These developments affect the experiences and life expectations of more people in different parts of the world. Proper strategies aimed at reducing infections and availing ART medications have the potential to minimize these possible impacts.


Dauda, R. S. (2018). HIV/AIDS and economic growth: Evidence from West Africa. The International Journal of Health Planning and Management, 34(1), 324-337. Web.

Mandal, A. (2019). AIDS pathophysiology. Web.

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Pietrangelo, A., & Cherney, K. (2020). The effects of HIV on your body. Healthline. Web.

Schwetz, T. A., & Fauci, A. S. (2019). The extended impact of human immunodeficiency virus/AIDS research. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 219(1), 6-9. Web.

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