As the risks associated with HIV/AIDs become widespread, there is a need to create awareness and sensitize the masses about the pandemic. HIV/AIDs is not selective and can affect anyone, regardless of age, sexual orientation, marital status, or gender. Sexual intercourse is the main factor in spreading HIV/AIDs, meaning that the virus is a sexually transmitted disease. To this effect, there are widespread campaigns encouraging individuals to engage in responsible sex or otherwise use protection in case the HIV status of their sexual partner is known. In addition to sexual intercourse, minor causes of HIV and AIDs include blood transfusion, mother-to-child through childbirth, and sharing of sharp and cutting objects among people without prior information about their HIV/AIDs status.
In the United States of America, children and youth live with HIV/AIDs (HIVinfo. NIH.gov, 2021). Children mostly contract the disease from their mothers during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. The transmission of the virus from the mother to her child is referred to as perinatal transmission. According to the HIVinfo. NIH.gov (2021), perinatal HIV transmission is the leading cause of HIV/AIDs infection among children under 13 years of age. Parents should be aware of their HIV status before and during pregnancy to reduce the chances of passing it on to their unborn children. On the other hand, the leading cause of HIV/AIDs infection among youth in their adolescence and early adulthood is sexual intercourse (HIVinfo. NIH.gov, 2021). Eventually, the two factors emerged as the leading causes of HIV/AIDs among children and youth in the United States. While the cure for HIV/AIDs is yet to be discovered, evidence exists for the disease’s host characteristics among the youth and children and its implications on the existing cultural and social structures in the United States.
Host Characteristics and Environmental Attributes Within Socially Constructed Groups in the United States
While HIV/AIDs infection is not selective in its transmission, some factors such as age, sex, marital status, ethnic group, specific behavioral classifications, religion, disability status, sexual orientation, geographical area, socio-economic factors, occupation, education, among others should not be ignored in its analysis. A combination of the above factors generalizes the social and environmental factors for the continued spread of HIV/AIDs in the United States (Ransome et al., 2018). The factors could either contribute to the transmission of the virus or affect the living standards of the people diagnosed with the infection (Ransome et al., 2018). Establishing the host characteristics and other environmental factors attributed to HIV infection among children and youth is critical in learning the implications of social constructs for the group in the United States.
Surveillance data on the spread of HIV/AIDs among the youth and children provides key information in analyzing the existing relationship between the groups, their environment, and the social settings. Researched data forms part of the primary data source for the virus’s contraction, transmission, and spread among youth. Synthesizing the related data is critical in one’s academic journey and prevention measures and critical for health departments, research and academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, federal agencies, and members of the general public. The facilities use the information in planning HIV/AIDs services, prevention measures, resource allocation, and policy development.
In order to facilitate the understanding of the host characteristics and environmental attributes within the youth and children’s groups in the united states as far as HIV/AIDs is concerned, it is critical to synthesize relevant data from different regions to offer more reliable and credible information. The racial and ethnic data will be limited to the 50 states and the District of Columbia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there was a considerable decrease in HIV/AIDs infections in the United States and the dependent regions from 2014 onwards. Although the decrease was general, various subgroups in the USA registered a considerable increase in infection following the HIV/AIDs diagnosis. However, there are inconsistencies in the available data from one subgroup to another due to variations in the testing methods, new HIV incidences, and differences in the targeted AIDs diagnosis initiatives.
Diagnosis of HIV/AIDs Among the General Public
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied and analyzed HIV infection rates between 2014 and 2018 in 50 states and six dependents areas. During this period, the infection rates in the studied areas constantly decreased (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). The actual data records that the prevalence was 11.5 in 2018, while the rates among adults and adolescents were 13.6 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). The data was inconsistent in all the regions under study; some areas had higher rates than others, while others recorded an increase during the study period.
Gender Distribution Among Youth and Children with HIV Infection
The data presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows some trends in gender distribution. Between 2014 and 2018, there was an increase in HIV/AIDs diagnoses among the transgender youth and adolescents and the adult transgender categories (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). The transgender categories referred to in this case are Male-to-Female adults and Female-to-Male transgender adults. On the other hand, there was a considerable decrease in the number of HIV diagnoses among female and male adults and adolescents. Under the same report, the trend in 2018 was quite different. On the one hand, male and female adults accounted for close to 98% of all the HIV/AIDs diagnoses done in the United States and the other six dependent regions (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). The female-to-male and male-to-female transgender recorded less than one percent of the total diagnoses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data indicates that HIV/AIDs infection does not select any gender at any age.
Age Consideration for Children and Youth HIV Prevalence Rates
Age is a critical consideration when evaluating the cases of HIV/AIDs infection among children and youth in the United States. Center for Disease Control and Prevention data shows a fair distribution of infections among all the age groups within the US. The youngest age in this study is 13 years, while the oldest is 55 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020), there was a decrease in prevalence among people in four age groups, while the infections stabilized for those in the 25-34 age group. Children below 13 years recorded considerably low infections, which was also the case among people more than 55 years of age. The results translation shows that children are at risk of contracting the virus, similar to any other age group. Therefore, preventive measures are critical to reducing the risks of HIV infection among children and youth.
Youth Living with HIV Distribution along Ethnicity and Race
Diversity in the United States has brought together people with different cultural backgrounds, mostly children and youth. Racial and ethnic differences among youth and children result from different ethnic groups and races living in the United States. Major ethnic groups and races in the United States include Hispanics, black Americans, whites, Asians, and people of multiple races. According to (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020), HIV/AIDs infection and prevalence recorded a decrease among all races between the years 2014 and 2018, showing the trend among children and youth is relatively low. On the other hand, the rates among the Alaska natives and American Indians showed some stability in the infection rates among children and youth. Toward 2018, black Americans recorded the highest percentage of infection, with the Latinos following closely; people of multiple races recorded the third highest prevalence rate, while whites and Asians recorded the least percentages (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). Conclusively, HIV/AIDs infection and prevalence cuts across children and youth of all races indiscriminately.
HIV Infection about Sex Orientation
In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report that contained data on HIV infection diagnoses for different sexual orientations. Adults and adolescents identifying with male-male sexual relationships accounted for more than 65% of the total number of HIV infection diagnoses in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). According to the report, several factors contributed to the high prevalence rates. Other than sexual intercourse, there was evidence of injection drug use among adults and adolescents. It is highly likely that these people shared the sharp objects without knowledge about their HIV statuses. Perinatal transmission of HIV infection falls under the sex category as well. However, perinatal transmission recorded less than 1% of the total infections before 2018 and after 2014 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). Other categories of sexual orientations that could be considered in the data include lesbians, heterosexuals, and females using the IDU. The data clear that sexual contact that results in HIV infection is not only among opposite genders but also among same-gender sexual relationships.
Political, Economic, and/or Cultural Benefits, Hardships, And Opportunities Associated with Youth and its Effects on American Society or Culture.
The focus on children and the youth in terms of their involvement in political, economic, and cultural spaces is quite a new path that is relatively timely, especially in this era of globalization. Various organizations and movements have proposed policy development to include the youth in major decision-making processes. Involving the youth could create a platform for them to address issues related to HIV infection and affect relevant legislation. For example, the United Nations World Program of Action for Youth from 2000 onwards underpinned the significance of youth’s participation in policy development (United Nations, n.d.). However, the program failed to offer practical and tangible interventions at the time of its inception. To this effect, the youth are left to scramble for the few available opportunities, some of which, if not most, yield nothing.
Exploring Political Opportunities for Youth in the Fight Against HIV Infections
Conventionally, people below the age of 35 years are rarely found in political leadership positions. The fact persists despite there being no limitation to their participation. Most democratic countries have set the age of majority, 18 years, as the minimum required age for one to gain eligibility for election to any political leadership office (Silbaugh, 2019). However, not many get elected, and the ones who present themselves in political battles are termed young to lead. Consequently, young people lack sufficient representation in parliaments, public administration offices, and within the political party leadership. Little representation means there is no sufficient force to push the youth agenda or pass policies that increase youth opportunities in society.
Opportunities for the youth to advance the fight against HIV Infection in the political arena are inexhaustible. Youth are in their most active and energetic period, meaning they have much to offer in society’s leadership. First, youth can play a critical role in promoting peaceful coexistence between people living with HIV and other society members. For example, it can promote this peace by using new technology to showcase the effects of stigmatizing HIV victims (United Nations, n.d.). Second, youth can contribute to the constitution-making processes and reviews in which legislation in line with HIV could find space. Arguably, youth can offer meaningful contributions by proposing the establishment of state commissions mandated to support HIV victims. Youth participation in political leadership could affect American society by providing a new energy that matches the vast need for HIV-informed political space. Additionally, their participation creates an impression of a more inclusive society, thus, advancing the equality agenda.
Exploiting Economic Opportunities For Youth Living with HIV
Youth have gotten their fair share of the associated economic hardships in an era marred by global economic instability and stagnation, especially in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Youth are inarguably the majority population in the United States. On the same note, they are the majority that suffer from the negative implications of widespread unemployment. Their high numbers in the population and respective high rates of unemployment subject the youth to high poverty levels as they fail to lead a decent livelihood. Additionally, youth are not provided with enough opportunities to invest in the growing economy; they are mainly tired down by procedures required before engaging in self-employment. Other than a lack of opportunities, many youths lack the basic skills to venture into business for a lack of relevant education and training that could match them with market demands (ILO, 2022). If provided with opportunities and sufficient support, youth have a great potential to transform society and the country at large.
Economic opportunities exist that could offer the youth living with HIV/AIDs a way out from the hard and harsh economic situations. In the modern-day world, the greatest opportunity for the youth living with AIDs lies in the blue and green economy (ILO, 2022). The world is fast embracing these economies based on the threats posed by climate change, which necessitate an alternative approach to the environment via changed economic activities. According to the International Labor Organization (2018), current market trends are highly linked to the environment, where more than 1 billion jobs directly rely on ecosystem services. Additionally, these jobs fit youth living with AIDs since they do not require a lot of energy. Therefore, HIV victims find a way to participate in agriculture and forestry to realize a positive change in the economic order. Youth opportunities in the economy could affect the larger American society in that it would reduce cases of unemployment and create the impression that youth living with HIV have a contribution to society.
Youth Living with HIV and Cultural Opportunities
Culture is another critical area whose opportunities are untapped as far as the youth living with AIDs are concerned. The higher the number of people living in the United States from different parts, the wider the cultural exchange among the people. Africans will introduce their culture to the US, Asians will introduce Eastern Culture to the USA, and Hispanics will also introduce Hispanic culture to the US. Any developing society is characterized by and not limited to awareness of the culture of its people.
Youth infected with HIV have inexhaustible opportunities for involvement in cultural development. In the era of technological development, youth could use technology to promote cultural exchange. Social media platforms are available that have greatly reduced the world to a global village. Sites such as Facebook could be used to share the cultural practices of one ethnic group in the United States. Social media and technology application do not need muscle power, so youths with HIV can effectively deliver. Engaging in cultural promotion activities could affect American society by creating an environment that highly appreciates and acknowledges diversity. A diverse society has a lot to share among its people, some of which would turn into economic activities through tourism.
Relationship Between HIV Infection Among Children and Youth and My Future Academic Discipline
The HIV/AIDs topic is an evolving topic and issue that has developed through the years. It is among the most dynamic social issues of the 20th century through the 21st century. I relate to the progress in this area and its prospects in the future. For example, the virus was initially taken to be a death penalty, where the infected would not have hopes of living another ten years. Additionally, stigma was the order of the day where; HIV victims were seen as social outcasts. However, with time, scholars came up with ways of reducing the stigma and suffering associated with the HIV/AIDs virus. For example, scholars invested in research to establish that HIV could not be spread from one person to another through the air, which was the basis for the stigma. Additionally, medics and researchers discovered ARVs that have greatly reduced the effects of the virus and lengthened the life of HIV victims.
A profound relationship exists between this topic and my future academic disciplines. Modes of transmission, protective measures, and ARVs, as discovered through research, have set the stage for studies I would handle in the future. Going forward, I will no longer invest in research on prevention measures or personal protection, but rather, a lot of focus will be on improving ARVs to make them more effective in reducing the effects of HIV/AIDs. Such research could offer hope that, at some point, the world would develop an effective cure for HIV/AIDs.
HIV Among Youth and the General American Culture
Conventional American culture is founded on cooperation and collaboration in most aspects of general life. However, HIV prevalence acts as an impediment to achieving this cooperation. Although interaction among people in the United States is mainly nonsexual, HIV infection reduces the commitment among Americans to participate in blood donation, letting, and transfusion for fear of contracting the disease. Therefore, HIV prevalence has adversely affected the culture of cooperation.
Current Theoretical Structures About HIV in Children and Youth
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, current theoretical structures have established the reasons for the prevalence of HIV infection among children and youth. First, child development and growth could adversely affect the treatment of the virus. Children experience different changes in their body systems that could affect their response to ARVs treatment (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). Second, it becomes hard for the youth and adolescents to follow their medication following a successful diagnosis of the infection; most adolescents fear that taking the medication is a way of exposing their status to the public. Sensitization and awareness creation campaigns helped society develop generalized ideas on HIV prevalence among youth, as opposed to conventional beliefs that associated it with sexual immorality.
Empirical Observation on HIV Infection among Children and Youth
Empirical evidence and observation for the prevalence of HIV infection among children and adolescents shows that the factors that place them at risk of acquiring the virus are avoidable. To this effect, factors that facilitate the contracting of the virus are within the control of the youth and adolescents. For example, there are low rates of condom use among adolescents. Condoms are among the effective ways of reducing contracting the disease. Second, adolescents engage in drug and alcohol abuse, which further increases the risk of contracting HIV (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). Injection drugs allow adolescents to share sharp objects without examining their HIV status. On the other hand, alcohol puts adolescents at risk of contracting the disease since they are highly likely to engage in irresponsible sexual intercourse. The empirical information opens a door for the considerations to make in improving the prevention measures for spreading the HIV virus.
While the cure for HIV/AIDs is yet to be discovered, evidence exists for the disease’s host characteristics and effect on the existing cultural and social structures in the United States. Children and adolescents are a critical consideration when addressing the issue of HIV, which has since been a global concern for decades. While children might contract the disease involuntarily, adolescents are better at securing themselves based on the wide range of information about the virus and its transmission. Although sufficient information is available concerning HIV infections, principle gaps exist, which, if not addressed, the spreading rates will remain high. One such gap is the lack of sufficient information among the people on the benefits of carrying out HIV tests randomly. Many would argue that tests are meaningless since there is no cure for the virus. Although there is no identified treatment for the disease, preventive measures are as effective in reducing HIV/AIDs prevalence.
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