On the Individual

HIV/AIDS was an extremely severe problem in America starting in the 1980s where its wild growth led to a national epidemic. According to the CDC, over half a million people died from HIV/AIDS in America from 1987 to 2015 (HIV and AIDS, 2001). Nowadays, a majority of Americans have options, ways to suppress the virus and live a relatively normal life. With HAART, highly active antiretroviral therapy, Americans that are HIV-positive can live about as long as someone who is HIV-negative. More Americans than ever are aware of HIV/AIDS, and their serostatus; however, many countries in regions such as Asia-Pacific, Southern, and Eastern Africa are still having difficulty managing HIV/AIDS (Global HIV, 2018). According to a study by the UNAIDS, there were at over 36.9 million people living with HIV in 2017, but over 40% are not accessing or cannot access HIV therapy, and the trend shows that the number of people with HIV is expected to grow. Of the 36.9 million, over 83% of these people are located within the previously stated regions (Global HIV, 2018). In these areas, the spread of HIV is led by poverty and a lack of knowledge.
After being diagnosed as HIV-positive, individuals often report experiencing high levels of stress and uncertainty, even if they have access to HAART; however, having a treatment plan does not guarantee protection against the progression of the virus. There are cases in people where the results of taking HAART are inadequate (What is the impact, 2005). It is possible for the treatment to become less effective and for the individual to lose the benefits that they once had due to changes in the virus that make them resistant to the medication. Because HIV/AIDS is a chronic disease and has no cure, being HIV-positive essentially becomes an unwanted trait for individuals (What is the impact, 2005). Despite cultural and social expectations varying across countries and regions, people with HIV are commonly discriminated against and stigmatized by other members of society, confined in a social cage. These people may even include family and friends. From disclosing an HIV-positive status, others may learn of information such as the person’s sexual behavior or drug use. Due to fear of discrimination and isolation, HIV is less likely to be disclosed than other diseases such as cancer (What is the impact, 2005).
The psychological stress that accompanies HIV/AIDS often leads to a loss of productivity which in turn, leads to a loss of income. Many say that HAART far outweighs the costs; however, making use of the availability of HIV treatment plans can be an extremely large financial burden. A recent study in the U.S. estimates that an individual that is infected with HIV at the age of 35 spends $326,550 in medical costs in their lifetime and 60% of this value is dedicated to the antiretroviral medication (Ritchwood, 2017). The constant threat of AIDS forces people with HIV to consistently allocate a large proportion of their income towards medication and treatments. There are few people that can single-handedly carry the burden of HIV/AIDS. As a result, many will have to turn to family and friends for aid. As for those that are looking to re-enter the workforce to lighten the financial load, they will likely have trouble finding one even if they are in good health due to a list of concerns: uncertain future health, health care needs interfering with work responsibilities, fear of disclosure, and fear of discrimination on top of many others. A 2003 study is the U.S., Europe, and Australia shows that people with HIV have higher unemployment rates than those without, ranging from 45% to 65%. In Australia, over 35% had lost their job within only a few years of diagnosis (Dray-Spira, 2003).

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