Monday, August 01, 2011

Raising Seafarers’ Awareness to the High risks to HIV/AIDs Infection

The Seafarers being always away from their loved ones are perceive to be exposed to the high risk of contracting the deadly disease. For better understanding of the ailment and its predicaments below facts are gathered to increase awareness of the disease and its impact to the family and society in general.
What are HIV/ AIDS?
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is an infectious disease caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). There are two variants of the HIV virus, HIV-1 and HIV-2, both of which ultimately cause AIDS.
Of all the test results that one has to take, it is during medical examinations that we always hope to see all a negative result to the entire laboratory test done to us. Even a positive test result in pregnancy is not a welcome result during pre-employment medical exams.
What are the HIV-AIDS Test used?

HIV tests are used to detect the presence of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), in serum, saliva, or urine. Such tests may detect antibodies, antigens, or RNA.

The most common testing method done on samples is:


The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), or enzyme immunoassay (EIA), was the first screening test commonly employed for HIV. It has a high sensitivity.

Western blot

The first two strips are a negative and a positive control, respectively. The others are actual tests.Like the ELISA procedure, the western blot is an antibody detection test. However, unlike the ELISA method, the viral proteins are separated first and immobilize.
Rapid or point-of-care tests
Rapid Antibody Tests are qualitative immunoassays intend use as a point-of-care test to aid in the diagnosis of HIV infection. These tests should be used in conjunction with the clinical status, history, and risk factors of the person being tested. The positive predictive value of Rapid Antibody Tests in low-risk populations has not been evaluated. These tests should be used in appropriate multi-test algorithms designed for statistical validation of rapid HIV test results.
Home Access Express HIV-1 Test is the only FDA-approved home test: the patient collects a few blood drops from a finger stick, and mails the sample to a laboratory; results and counseling are obtained over the phone. All results are anonymous and confirmed before they are released.
Ora Quick is an antibody test that provides results in 20 minutes. The blood, plasma or oral fluid is mixed in a vial with developing solution, and the results are read from a stick like testing device. Usually detects HIV 1 and HIV 2.
Orasure is an HIV test that uses mucosal transudate from the tissues of cheeks and gums. It is an antibody test that first employs ELISA, then western blot.
Uni-Gold is a rapid HIV antibody test that provides results in 10–12 minutes. A drop of blood is placed on the device with developing solution. Uni-Gold is only FDA approved to test for HIV 1.
Clearview Complete HIV 1/2 and Clearview HIV 1/2 Stat-Pak are rapid tests for the detection of HIV 1 and HIV 2 antibodies in blood, serum, or plasma samples. Results are provided within 15 minutes.
There is also a urine test; it employs both the ELISA and the western blot techniques.
What is the most devastating effect of the test results?
For those that had a comprehensive medical exam, a positive test for HIV/ AIDS, is the most nerve breaking and life changing. It is best to have the test repeated, but if the result is the same, that confirms the illness. There is still no known cure available in the market to treat the illness completely to date.  Because of it, you will prematurely retire from your job and this will totally change the future of your whole family. Normally, all Seafarers are breadwinners. His family’s fate depends on his shoulder especially if he came from a third world country. He is always the beacon of hope and light for a good life.
How is HIV transmitted ?
HIV/ AIDS as in any other STI’s transmits through body fluids either by sexual contact, through the saliva of the mouth saliva, open wounds in contact body fluid of an infected person, sharing needles for those who are using illicit drugs and from an infected pregnant mother to an unborn child. It is the most dreadful result from a night of fun and ecstasy. However, can you blame them for being too experimental? Is the risk worth taking for a night of pleasure, to break the cycle of the life at sea? Definitely, they never will, if they only knew it before hand. 
When they are on shore leave, unwinding themselves, the feeling of excitement with the gorgeous women in port especially in South America, made them forgot the dangers of a promiscuous act.  While, it is true that for every action, there is always an equal and opposite reaction, not even Newton’s third law of motion can forbid them not to do it, especially when the spirit of alcohol impairs mans’ best judgment aggravated by peer pressure.
How does it affect familial ties?
For those spectators who do not understand how it is to live a life at sea, they call it Bad Karma. The public usually condemns them for the disease instead of sympathizing.  Even, their immediate family members left them behind in the confinement of the walls of public hospitals specialized for contagious diseases and epidemiology treatment.  The risk of infecting others is a stigma that caused the infected person to be forsaken. 
They normally receive hatred and isolation from family, relatives and friends, instead of compassion and understanding. We will understand how the better half of an infected Seafarer feels because they are at the highest risk of contracting the disease resulting from the acts of marital infidelity. It is a double misfortune, indeed.

Is it avoidable?

The answer is a resounding YES!  The safest solution is to stay monogamous.  While it something easier to say, for those who do not experience at the crossroads of the actual situation, it calls for the exercise of best judgement and self-control. Otherwise, when the circumstances really gets off hand, they have to utilize all available resources and elements made by man to promote safety while on spree.
Unfortunately, existing medical benefits granted to Seafarers does not cover the treatment of HIV/ AIDS because it is a non-work related illness. Not even all private insurers cover them too. While some may consider it as an added clause, but the medical annual insurance premium comes with a hefty price.
Therefore, “it is still BEST to Stay Faithful, and be HIV/AIDS FREE!”

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Image Credits: Wiki, fashionstinks, blogspot
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