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Alcohol and HIV or AIDS

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The world is still in the search for its cure. A lot has been done and scientists constantly come up with different Antiretroviral medicines though an absolute cure has not yet been established. It is important to establish the main cause of HIV/AIDS, especially in youths who form the basis of economic growth in a country. In this study, analysis of existing Alcohol and HIV/AIDS data sets is carried out. We look at how recklessness caused by intake of alcohol end up consuming the lives of young people and narrow down to a case study of a young lady called Jane who lives within Nairobi City, Kenya. The paper also considers the possible solutions to the problem of alcoholism and the relationships between the role of alcohol and new infections.  Effects of alcoholandHIV infection in Sub Saharan Africa

In December of 2009, Jane had a friend named Paul who was flying into town. It was a friend whom she had dated exclusively and whom she thought had dated her exclusively.  As usual, they would drink themselves silly before embarking on a wild romance which would end up in a hotel room. Since they had not been together for a while and they were intimate, Jane asked Paul to use a condom which he did.  In the middle of the encounter, he removed the condom because it was bothering him. She could not say “NO” for she was not in her right state of mind. Having consumed too much alcohol, she cared less about what would later happen. That is all it took. Two or three weeks later, Jane started experiencing flu like symptoms; fever, chills etc. She asked her sister to take her to the hospital because she could not eat and felt really ill.  The doctor ran labs and to her surprise it wasn't the flu, Jane was diagnosed with herpes and Chlamydia.  She could not believe that she was going through this and did not want to get tested for HIV because she feared what could come out and eventually she did not.

Life went one for about another year.  Jane worked and took care of her child and never dated anyone since her herpes outbreak in 2009. In November of 2010, Jane felt a bump in the back of her neck; it turned out to be a swollen lymph node.  She went to see her doctor to have it checked out and somehow got the courage to be tested for HIV.

One week later, Jane received the call.  It was her doctor asking her to report to the hospital right away. She had a feeling that the news was not going to be pleasant.  She walked in to her doctors’ appointment and was given the results; HIV positive.  Jane was in a state of shock, could not believe the news and broke out in tears.  The first thing she thought about was her children, the oldest being a twenty year old daughter and youngest son at five years.  "Am I going to die?” was the first question Jane asked. The doctor went through the process of getting a second test to confirm the results and treatment if needed.

Second results came in with the same news. Jane is now thirty nine years old. Her daughter has been very supportive though this ordeal and she knows that her daughter will be all right. She constantly worry, feel guilty and heart broken when she lay next to her five year old at night and think about what she had done. She feels very guilty about that particular night since she had trusted him without thinking twice.

Jane has a few friends and family members who know about her status and have been very supportive and have kept her positive. However, some relatives and friends view her as an outcast and avoid her. This is the stigma facing majority of HIV infected people. Unfortunately, majority of those who may sideline her do not know their status and could also be carrying the virus. Ignorance is killing many and carelessness is the root. Jane has been under treatment for almost one year now. 

So far, her viral load is undetectable and her CD4 Count is above 600 and according to her doctor; all looks good, viral load still undetectable and CD4 Count still above 600. Since her diagnose, Jane has tried to remain positive and hopeful that someday soon, a cure will come; not just for her, but for all those living with this disease but in the meantime, she hopes people will not discriminate against those living with AIDS and learn to accept them. She is also on rehabilitation to stop consumption of Alcohol.

Statistics on Alcohol use and HIV infection

Alcohol use predisposes someone to greater risks of HIV infection (Kalichman et al., 2009). It is reported that 17.2% had been forced or had been forced to have sex while drunk. Close to 80% of these people reported that they had non-consensual sex at least once in the past three months. These statistics have been obtained from the same village in Nairobi where Jane hails from. It is also believed that those who use alcohol and are already infected are more disadvantaged since they most often don’t observe treatment, lack adequate nutrition and have no regard for themselves.

From the analysis above, we can say that many of those involved in these kind of sexual activities do not use condoms at all with high probability being due to forgetfulness, trust of partner, partner refusal and being in a drunken state as in case of Jane.

Prevention of Alcohol related Infections

Several research studies carried out in North America, Australia and Europe, have revealed that screening for problems related to alcohol followed by brief counseling of individuals is extremely effective in minimizing hazardous alcohol consumption (Kaner et al., 2007).

Research has also revealed that bar based Interventions by use of peer leaders present crucial opportunity to intervene in hazardous alcohol drinking and risky sexual behavior since bars are situated at the crossroads of alcohol use and risky sex. Bar-based programs therefore represent a crucial opportunity to intervene in hazardous drinking and risky sexual behavior. Research carried out in the United States in the 1990s indicated that the Popular Opinion Leader (POL) program successfully lowered the frequency of risky sex among patrons of gay bars.

Government policies governing operations of bars can also help to reduce transmission to the underage by ensuring that rules governing underage access to bars are implemented. Children under the ages of eighteen are in most cases exploited by the old by making them drunk while in bars and later rent rooms where they then infect them. All that need to be done is to ensure that the rules are implemented. This will keep children off the alcohol drinking areas.

Sensitivity Analysis

A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies examined the relationship between blood alcohol content (BAC) and self-perceived possibility of using a condom when having intercourse. The logical review and meta-analysis were done according to internationally standardized protocols. The meta-analysis incorporated an approximation of the dose-response effect, tests for publication bias. The study indicated that an increase in BAC of 0.1mg/ml resulted to increase in 5% in the likelihood of engaging in unprotected sex by affecting decision and reducing inhibitions, thus diminishing perceived danger or excusing behaviors which are considered generally unacceptable. Therefore, it is clear that the larger the alcohol intake, the more one is likely to involve in unprotected sex. Therefore, the role of alcohol consumption in transmission of HIV/AIDS is definitely of public health significance.

Recommendations

It is important for everyone to take life serious. Majority of people who get infected with the virus often regret for not being keen as is like in Jane’s case. She happened to have engaged once and that was just the one mistake that led to her fall. Alcoholism has contributed to most cases of infections and it is time people got to know that alcohol affects ones state of mind and reasoning. This impairs ones’ judgment and what results later are regrets. Statistics has found women to be more vulnerable when drunk as compared t their male counterparts and it is therefore important that women take more precaution when it comes to going out for drinks. It would also be helpful if rules regulations governing consumption of alcohol would be implemented to avoid cases of over consumption of alcohol which leaves one without the sense of judgment and decision.           

Conclusion

Alcohol does not only destabilize ones state of mind but also gives better opportunities for opportunistic diseases to invade one’s body organs such as the liver are not spared either when one indulges in excessive consumption. The risks are far too many that we cannot ignore. If everyone will realize that life is not a rehearsal, they will learn to live responsibly without losing control to alcohol in the name of entertainment. However, we all hope that soon our scientist will discover an effective treatment to this disease. 

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