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Are Condoms Really Effective In Reducing The Spread Of HIV/AIDS?

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Introduction

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS remains high in the United States of America despite the efforts being put to curb its spread. People between the age of 18 and 35 are most prone to the disease possibly because they are more exposed to the modes of transmission. The HIV virus is most commonly transmitted through sexual intercourse. The majority of people living with the disease acquired it through sexual intercourse and the statistics remain the same to date. Public health personnel and other shareholders in the health sector have tried to reduce and possibly prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS by creating awareness about the importance of safe sex through the use of condoms. This mode is quite effective in curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS especially among the youth because this is how they mainly acquire the virus. There are other modes of transmission but they are quite rare compared to the sexual transmission. This study is testing the effectiveness of the use of condoms in controlling the spread of HIV among people between the age of 18 and 35. Most governments worldwide have channeled funds towards provision of condoms to its citizens in an attempt to curb the spread of this disease. These efforts, in addition to other methods such as special delivery methods for HIV mothers, screening of blood in blood banks and control of drug abuse, have been effective and have led to a significant drop in HIV infections in some areas. Nonetheless there are specific religious and cultural groups that oppose this method with claims that it impacts negatively on the morality of the people and goes against some of their beliefs. The fight against the use of condoms as a method of controlling HIV can only be combatted effectively by getting the relevant statistics to show its effectiveness. So, are condoms really effective in reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS?

Instrumentation

Interviews

The main instrument is the Interview which is simply an oral questionnaires. It is the main method because it involves one on one interaction between the researchers and the participants. Interviewing is very appropriate in modern public health research. It is relevant because this research is structured but can allow other dimensions to the study which will remain relevant to the outcome. This instrument was developed by Weiss and Robert in the publication: Learning from Strangers: The Art and Method of Qualitative Interview Studies (1994). It enables the researcher to obtain a wide range of information from the participants and seek clarification in case of ambiguity. Various methods of interviewing will be used in this research. They include face-to-face interviews which will involve one on one interaction between the researchers and the participants. A series of relevant questions will be developed prior to the research and this will be followed by all the researchers involved. The selected sample of people will interact with the researchers and the responses will be carefully noted down. Apart from one on one interactions, remote interviews will be conducted through phone calls and Emails. The conversations will be recorded and the Emails kept safely as collected data. In addition, group interviews will be done in various focus groups to get an overall idea of the beliefs of particular groups of people. The researchers will attend the normal group meetings and the questions will be asked by either the researchers or the group leaders and the responses noted down. Interviewing measures all the variables which include the exposures, the outcomes and the potential confounders. This makes it quite ideal for the study.

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This instrument is appropriate because it can be used to measure all the variables involved in the study. It is ideal for the exposures which is the HIV virus, the outcomes which is the disease itself and the confounders which are the other modes of transmission that cannot be effectively dealt with by the use of condoms. This will save on the manpower and the effort required to collect data for the study. Similarly it is appropriate for the target population. It is easy and convenient to get data from people between the age of 18 and 35 through one on one interactions than any other method. Most people in this age bracket are either working or studying. They are quite busy and are likely to ignore other instruments. Interviewing is short and sharp. It can be done remotely to reach a large population of people and the interviewer can limit the time depending on the participant’s schedule. Most youths prefer phone calls and Emails as an appropriate mode of communication therefore they will be willing to participate in the study. Group interviews are done as per the normal schedules of the people involved therefore it will not require any time sacrifice. The convenience offered by using interviewing is amazing and it will work perfectly for the research.This instrument is commonly used together with other methods in various research studies. It was utilized by Clements-Nolle, Marx, Guzman and Katz in the study HIV Prevalence, Risk Behaviors, Health Care Use, and Mental Health Status of Transgender Persons: Implications for Public Health Intervention. It was incorporated into the study and used in conjunction with other quantitative methods leading to a successful study. This study seeks to emulate the interview instrument used here and the information will be backed with relevant statistics from secondary sources.

The interview has a very high validity and reliability especially in a medical research of this kind. The development of appropriate questions will ensure that the desired data required from the study is obtained through this instrument. It will be able to get all the information including the confounding variables. Both the external and internal validity are superbly good when using interviews for medical research. The sample can appropriately be generalized as a representation of the entire population especially if the statistical powers are achieved. The content validity is also high because all the questions can be answered in relation to the study. Moreover, clarification can be sought to improve the content validity. The reliability is equally high even though it cannot be measured. The data obtained using interviews will definitely remain constant provided all the other research factors are kept constant. The reliability and validity of interviews in this type of research make it the most ideal for this study.

Operationalization of Variables

The exposure variable is the HIV virus itself. This virus is the causative factor of the disease Aids which is fatal. The use of condoms prevents an individual from acquiring the virus which progresses gradually to the disease. The exposure variable can be appropriately measured by the use of interviewing which is the main instrument utilized in the research. This variable can be measured through the normal HIV testing. The participants will be at liberty to disclose their status in the interviews. This is a crucial issue in the life of an individual therefore the responses will be sought with a strict condition of anonymity. The variable will be coded as either HIV positive or HIV negative. HIV positive means that the individual has the virus while HIV negative shows that the person does not have it.

The outcomes in this study is the disease Aids. Aids is the disease condition that results from the presence of HIV in the body. The mechanism of action of the HIV virus is to suppress the immune system making the body susceptible to various common infections which eventually lead to the death of the individual. This is the dreaded condition and it explains why HIV causes a huge uproar in public health circles. Notably, the use of ARVs is aimed at delaying the progression of infection to Aids in addition to boosting the immune system. This is the outcome variable of the disease. It greatly dictates the fatality of the disease and the suffering caused by it. This variable will be measured by checking the progression of the disease among the patients who are HIV positive. Moreover, the number of deaths as a result of the disease will be used to ascertain the data collected because death is caused by the disease itself and not the virus. This will also be coded as positive or negative.

Confounding

There are confounders that may affect the associations in this research study. This study is aimed at establishing the effectiveness of the use of condoms in the control of the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. Use of condoms is a safe sex practice that prevents to some extent the contraction of HIV through sexual contact with an infected person. This is because it prevents the interaction of body fluids during sexual intercourse and these fluids contain the virus which can then be spread. However, the HIV virus is spread by other means apart from sex. They include careless and unscreened blood transfusion, sharing cutting and piercing instruments for instance for drug addicts who share needles and syringes used in injecting substances like cocaine and mother to child transmission. These are other common modes of transmission of the HIV virus even though they are less prominent compared to sexual contact with an infected person. They also contribute significantly to the population living with the disease or getting infected hence they jeopardize the purpose of the research. An individual may be using condoms but may acquire the disease through other means other than sex. Could this mean that condoms are ineffective in curbing the spread of the virus?

It is very important to be particular about people acquiring the disease through sharing needles and syringes. Research shows that people between the age of 18 and 35 and more likely to abuse drugs such as cocaine which are injected. This makes them highly susceptible to infection using this method. This creates a very worrying confounder that must be dealt with during data collection.

The effect of this confounder can be minimized and possibly eradicated during data collection. The interview questions will include some questions on the history of the patient which will enable the researchers to predict a dissociation between the research question and the responses. The interviews will include questions on previous blood transfusions, previous experiences with injectable drugs outside the medical setting and possible mother to child transmission. This will greatly assist to minimize the effect of these confounders.

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