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The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that in 2007 there were an estimated 33.2 million individuals living with HIV on a worldwide basis. Levi is just one of those individuals. The reason behind choosing Levi's and Steve's cases to analyze is that they play a personal and empathetic role for the researcher, a role that connects the researcher and the patient(s) due to the maladies that are affecting both Steve and Levi. The study that includes Levi is one that displays a common fate for HIV positive individuals, while the one that includes Steve is one that the researcher is very familiar with having witnessed similar behavior from high school students on a regular basis (the researcher is a high school teacher).
Neither Steve nor Levi are exhibiting true compulsive behaviors, however, they both are exhibiting addictive behaviors, with Steve's in the early stages and Levi's in the advanced stages. Additionally, Levi is affected with the mental aspects of having contracted AIDS and all the stress that comes with that scenario.
A number of studies have determined that the mental anguish suffered with the onslaught of the HIV or AIDS virus takes a heavy toll on the individual.
One recent study found that "living with HIV / AIDS and a co-morbid mental illness can be extremely stressful and can cause immense human suffering" (Moosa, Jonsson, Jeenah, Michael, DeWee, 2009, p. 149).
Levi is presenting a number of strong signals that indicate mental stress that should be troubling to the researcher. The Moosa et al. study determined that an effective method for treating patients such as Levi was to address their mental issues through group therapy.
In fact, they wrote that it is "imperative that all mentally ill patients with HIV and AIDS…be a member of a support group as it will help improve adherence and functioning" (p. 147).
Both Levi and Steve are also facing added problems with their continued drug use. There have been a number of studies that have found that continued drug use can lead to addiction and risky sexual behavior including poor sterilization techniques, low condom use during sexual intercourse and other risky sexual behavior. (Zhang et al., 2002, Parviz et al., 2006, Perngmark et al., 2004, Bakhbakhl et al., 2010).
Levi in particular seems to be in more danger of progressing towards depression and mental disorders that could affect his overall health and well being.
Joska et al. found that "people living with HIV and AIDS have an increased risk of developing serious mental illnesses and the burden of a second chronic illness" (Joska et al., 2008).
The current literature shows that Levi and Steve are not the exception to the rule when it comes to drug use, HIV, AIDS and mental illnesses. In fact, a wide variety of cultures around the world see the same effects as those exhibited by Levi and Steve, especially in rural and remote areas, or areas of lower incomes and poverty. This is equally true in areas of the world where malnutrition and adequate nourishment is not as accessible as in the developed countries of the world; and adequate nutrition plays an important role in both Steve and Levi's cases. Many individuals who choose to use drugs do not maintain a healthy lifestyle overall. Oftentimes, these individuals have lower nutritional values as well. Ensuring a good nutrition is also more difficult in areas of poverty and malnutrition.
A number of studies have linked nutritional deficiencies to continued and exacerbated problems for drug users. Studies have determined that micronutrient deficiencies are very common in people with HIV and that such deficiencies interfere with immune responses. These studies have also determined that the deficiencies are linked to an accelerated progression of HIV and HIV related diseases (Cunningham-Rundles et al. 2005, Fawzi 2003, Nerad et al. 2003, Dreyfuss and Fawzi 2002).
If approaching Steve and Levi's health concerns from a nutritional viewpoint, the research shows that nutritional interventions should begin early, especially in Levi's case since he has already been diagnosed with the disease. Additionally, "evaluation of nutritional status should be conducted on a regular basis and nutritional supplementation should forma an important and integral part of the clinical management for…[continue]
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