Prevention of HIV Disease

In this assignment, one primary, one secondary, and one tertiary prevention intervention were identified for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Primary prevention refers to identifying the risk factors for diseases, while secondary prevention involves detecting diseases early so that they can be promptly treated (Baker, 1992). Tertiary prevention involves reducing disability after a disease has already caused harm, with the purpose being to restore and/or rehabilitate patients so they can attain optimal health, wellness, and functioning (Baker, 1992). All three levels of prevention are applied to HIV. 

Primary Prevention
Within primary prevention, measures are taken to stop the onset of the disease before it begins, with the goal being to prevent illness or injury from developing in the first place (Institute for Work and Health, 2015). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, N.D.), when interventions are implemented prior to the occurrence of health impacts, it is considered primary prevention. Some examples of primary prevention involve immunizations or even engaging in healthy lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation, alcohol reduction, physical activity, and healthy eating habits (Institute for Work and Health, 2015; Levine et al., 2019).
When considering HIV, primary prevention strategies are used to decrease both its acquisition and transmission, which can be accomplished by several different approaches (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022). Examples of primary prevention strategies for HIV include reducing exposure through using safer sex practices, such as condoms during sexual encounters, as well as education to promote healthy reproductive and sexual health (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022). Awareness can be supported through not only public campaigns but also educational programs at schools (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022). Additionally, other primary prevention strategies involve biomedical interventions, such as treatment as prevention (TasP), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022). Overall, most of these primary prevention strategies have been successful, especially in certain populations like gay and bisexual men, who are at increased risk of contracting HIV (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022).
Secondary Prevention
In secondary prevention, the primary aim is to reduce the negative impact of a disease on a patient who has already been diagnosed with the illness that is still in the early stages (Institute for Work and Health, 2015). The CDC (2018) explains that this type of prevention occurs before signs and symptoms present, with screenings typically employed to detect diseases during their early stages. Once identified, the diseases can then be treated immediately so that they do not advance, causing more harm (Institute for Work and Health, 2015). Hence, the disease must be diagnosed as early as possible so that the patient can receive evidence-based treatment by engaging in a breast self-examination and being screened for hypertension, representing examples of secondary prevention (Institute for Work and Health, 2015; Levine et al., 2019).
For HIV, the goal of secondary prevention strategies is to diagnose those who have this infection so that treatment can be provided (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022). In doing so, not only can transmission opportunities be decreased, but complications can be prevented (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022). Some examples of these prevention measures involve connecting patients living with HIV to treatment services, contract tracing and management, as well as outreach services (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022). Unfortunately, there have been barriers to HIV testing, primarily due to a combination of individual-level factors like patients being afraid of the stigma and discrimination associated with an HIV-positive diagnosis, as well as organizational-level factors such as not having access to these HIV screenings (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022). Some ways that these barriers can be overcome include aiming for a more generalized testing approach, as this applies a balanced yet targeted method for promoting HIV screening and testing (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022). Additionally, by increasing patients’ testing options and opportunities, many of these barriers can also be addressed (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022).
Tertiary Prevention
Finally, tertiary prevention aims to decrease a disease’s negative effects for patients who have lived with the illness for quite some time, with the goal being to rehabilitate them as best as possible (Institute for Work and Health, 2015). In doing so, patients can learn how to manage their chronic disease in the long term, thus improving their functionality, quality of life, and even life expectancy (Institute for Work and Health, 2015; Levine et al., 2019). Hence, when diseases are managed after being diagnosed in an effort to slow down their progression, it is considered tertiary prevention (CDC, N.D.). Some examples of this type of prevention include screenings for complications associated with these illnesses, along with rehabilitation and even chemotherapy (CDC, N.D.).
The goal of tertiary prevention methods for those living with HIV is to enhance their quality of life, providing them with both support and evidence-based treatment (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022). For example, antiretroviral therapy (ART) is considered the gold standard in HIV treatment, as it suppresses the virus’s capability for replicating in the body (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022). Once a positive diagnosis has been made, it is imperative that ART be initiated immediately to stop the disease’s advancement, including any comorbidities and/or complications associated with HIV (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022). Another tertiary prevention approach for HIV is to provide these patients with the support they need, ensuring they adhere to their treatment regimens and take all ART medications as prescribed, as this also ensures that viral suppression is maintained (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022). Unfortunately, medication adherence can be difficult for some people living with HIV, especially those with mental illness, housing instability, or financial issues (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022). However, by providing not only community and peer support to improve these patients’ wellbeing and mental health but also regular medical care and guidance, patients are more likely to comply with their regimens (Cabecinha & Saunders, 2022).

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