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HIV and Health: Protection and Treatment

  • Haziran 03, 2020

    Definition of HIV and AIDS

    AIDS is ‘Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome’ which causes a disease in which there is a severe loss of the body's cellular immunity, greatly lowering the resistance to infection and malignancy’(Ho-Yen et al., 2007).  It is usually transmitted from person to person hence the name acquired. On the other hand, HIV is exist, which is an acronym for human immunodeficiency virus that is a prior condition before it turns out to be AIDS if not treated (Casey, K. 2009). There are two known types of the HIV, HIV-1, and HIV-2, that differs genetically and transmission and progression of the illness. HIV-2 is mainly seen in West Africa and it takes harder to transmit it when compared to HIV-1 (Casey, K. 2009). The prevalence is so high that, more than 1.1 million people that are living in the USA is infected by the HIV In today’s world. Statistics have shown that  there is a huge decline of infection in the USA after 2008 (United N., 2014).  Thus, the importance of awareness has a huge role in both preventing from being infected and also the treatment process. 

    How do people get HIV?

    The virus can be transmitted to adults either through sexual intercourse with an infected person, sharing a needle with the affected person or, blood/organ transfer from an infected person (Casey K., 2009). If a baby is born with the virus in his/her bloodstream, then the mother has to be infected and transmitted it to the baby either before birth or, after the birth by breastfeeding and the virus is found in semen, vaginal fluids, breast-milk (Casey, K. 2009).

    Highly active antiretroviral therapy as the treatment of HIV

    Antiretroviral therapy aimed to repress HIV virus as much and as powerful as possible and,  to not let the virus to reproduce anymore and to block the increase of the virus (Casey, K. 2009). Hence, creating the possibility to extend and improve the quality of life by the maximum suppression.

    Who are at risk of HIV?

    The people who engaged in typically men-to-men unprotected sex, drug users especially heroin addicts are the groups most at the risk of getting infected with HIV (Schiltz & Sandfort, 2000).  In the light of the earliest epidemiology, it was also seen as the virus was more pervasive among the social outcast group, prostitutes, and immigrants (Schiltz & Sandfort, 2000).

    The best action to protect oneself from getting infected by HIV would be applying the personal responsibility to protect one’s own health by avoiding such dangerous possibilities such as avoiding unprotected sex with random people. Otherwise, many ‘innocent’ healthy people could be at risk. One of the main reason as a cause of contamination process of the innocent people is either one person is not aware of he/she is infected or, he/she is acting irresponsible about his serious disease and not caring other people’s health as well (Paicheler, 1992).

    There is also some other HIV-risk behavior change models such as the health belief model, the HIV risk reduction model, the theory of reasoned action, social cognitive theory, the information-motivation-behavioral skills model of HIV risk behavior change and, the transtheoretical model(John L. & Peterson and Ralph, 2013).

    What are the following pages will try to explain?

      This paper aims to explain the definition of HIV and how can health psychology theories help prevent the most at-risk groups from getting and spreading the HIV. This essay is also looking for the answer of how to promote positive sexual health in adolescents life. It focuses on the individual level of prevention and the theoretical framework of the social cognitive theory, which is oriented to the individual level of safe sex behavior as well as the role of self-efficiency during the process. The behavioral treatment of the theory and how it is applied to human’s life.

    Social Cognitive Theory within the scope of HIV

    No doubt, Albert Bandura is one of the most important names in the behaviorism flow and, his theory of social cognitive theory (SCT) is pervasively applied to the area of HIV prevention. In the theory of SCT, one of the main factor to reach success is to reach a satisfactory level of self-efficacy(Bandura, 1991a). Bandura states that it’s not necessary to provide very detailed feedback to the patient in order to create a behavioral change but instead, it is very useful to motivate the patient in order to awaken his/her self-efficacy potential by providing understandable, culture related and  competent information about what kind of behaviors would lead to the prevention behavior (Bandura, 1991a; O'Leary, 1985) . These may include some examples of safe behaviors and some unhealthy and dangerous behavior examples to stress the difference between those behaviors (Bandura, 1991a; O'Leary, 1985). 

    According to Bandura, SCT has 4 components to be able to create a behavior change(Bandura, 1991a). The first component is the information, this component stands for giving the right and all the necessary information about the disease itself, risky behaviors and, prevention techniques as well as the high potential and ease of changing these behaviors (Bandura, 1991a). The second is the development of social and regulatory skills of prevention, that applies to what kind of behavior would be risky and what kind of behavior would be preventing that risky behavior to occur according to the given information (Bandura, 1991a). The third component of SCT is the enhancement of previously learned social and self-regulatory skills which increases the likelihood of reaching more successful and consolidated behavioral change as well as self-efficacy (Bandura, 1991a). The last component is to have as much social and peer support as possible. (Bandura, 1991a).

      Importance of self-efficacy in promoting health behavior: Hardcore belief on ourselves

      Many studies have shown us the high levels of perceived self-efficacy has a great effect on promoting healthy behavior and creates a change in the individual level and vice versa in its absence (Bandura, 1991a; O'Leary, 1985).  In a longitudinal study of McKusick, Wiley, Coates, and Morin (1986), it was seen that if people believe in themselves to have control over their action, they try to engage in more health protective behaviors against being infected by AIDS virus. 

        The effect and relationship between the positive feeling of self-efficacy and engagement of safe sex behavior have been researched over and over again(Kalichman 1996). One meta-analytical study made by Kalichman et al (1996) showed that effect sizes in 12 interventions that reviewed positive changes of bisexual men, women, and adolescents risky behavior within the scope of SCT. 


      We have seen the definition and causes of HIV as being the main reason to catch AIDS. It is possible to get infected by having unsafe sex either men to men or men to women, from blood to blood by sharing needles, engaging in drug use such as heroin. However, it is possible to pause the growing effect of the disease with antiretroviral therapy, which helps the body to suppress the growing of cellular divisions and, also block new viruses to occur. People always have the chance to protect themselves from being infected by engaging in safe sex behavior. It’s really important to have self-awareness about healthy behaviors as well as to have the initial feeling of self-efficacy. Previous researchers have proven that people who believe that they have both the ability and the regulatory systems to protect themselves from being affected by the disease are better able to do so. 


      Bandura, A. (1991a). Self-efficacy mechanism in physiological activation and health-promoting behavior. In J. Maddeb, IV (Ed.), Neurobiology of learning, emotion and affect (pp. 229-269). Newrk:Raven

      Bandura, A. (1994). Social Cognitive Theory and Exercise of Control over HIV Infection. Preventing AIDS AIDS Prevention and Mental Health, 25-59. doi 10.1007/978-1-4899-1193-3_3

      Casey, K. (2009). HIV counselling handbook for the Asia-Pacific: a comprehensive guide to: voluntary counselling and testing, provider-initiated testing and counselling, treatment and care counselling. Bangkok: UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office.

      Ho-Yen, C., Chang, F., Walt, J. V., & Lucas, S. (2007). Gastrointestinal Malignancies in HIV-infected or Immunosuppressed Patients. Advances in Anatomic Pathology, 14(6), 431-443. doi:10.1097/pap.0b013e31815946d9

      John L. & Peterson and Ralph J. D. (2013) Handbook of HIV Prevention. Atlanta, Georgia: Springer Verlag. ISBN 978-1-4613-6855-7  DOI 10.1007/978-1-4615-4137-0 

      Kalichman S., Carey M., Johnson BT. ,(1996). Prevention of sexually transmitted HIV infection: A meta-analytic review of the behavioral outcome literature. Ann Behave Med 18:6-15

      McKusick, L., Wiley, J., Coates, T. J., &Morin, S.F. (1986, November). Predictions of AIDS behavioral risk reduction: The AIDS Behavioral Research Project. Paper presented at the New Zealand.

      O’Leary, A. (1985). Self-efficacy and health. Behavior Research Therapy, 23, 437-451.

      Paicheler, G. (1992). Society Facing Aids. Current Sociology, 40(3), 11-23. doi:10.1177/001139292040003006

      Schiltz, M., & Sandfort, T. (2000). HIV-positive people, risk and sexual behaviour. Social Science & Medicine, 50(11), 1571-1588. doi:10.1016/s0277-9536(99)00466-9

      United N. (2014), Population and vital statistics report, January 2014, UN, New York. doi:10.18356/2cd5c6f7-en

      Wulfert, E., & Wan, C. K. (1993). Condom use: A self-efficacy model. Health Psychology, 12(5), 346-353. doi:10.1037//0278-6133.12.5.346

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