Despite the multiple preventive strategies put in place to reduce and control HIV and AIDS, the disease remains an important public health issue. Although the use of antiretroviral therapy improves the quality of life among police officers living with the virus, the ultimate control of the virus depends on the prevention of its transmission. The police perform essential duties to ensure the security of property and protection of health maintaining the required standards. Improving the ability of the Uniform Service Personnel through training and providing police sanitary conditions guarantees the quality of services they render to the community. According to Avert (n.d.), HIV/AIDS affect the health of an individual and influences the capability to function emotionally, physically socially, spiritually and mentally efficiently. Therefore, ensuring health and fitness plays a vital role in enabling police to perform daily activities. The current paper will identify one health issue affecting the police, procedures of handling it, its demographics, its forecast and strategies to overcome it. According to New York Times, in the year 2000, New York Police Department police officers with HIV hid their conditions from other personnel due to fear of ostracism.
HIV/AIDS Health Issue Among Police
HIV and AIDS is a global health concern that affects people at all levels. The virus has no cure or vaccine. Due to the interaction between police and the community during the line of duty, individuals may obtain the virus through accidents, sharp objects, and body fluid contact and needle injuries. The myths surrounding the virus may lead to the spread of misleading information that increases the chances of infection.
The Causes of HIV/AIDS among Police
Substance abuse contributes to the spread of HIV/AIDS among police. The use of steroids, alcohol, bhang and cocaine is evident among some police officers. In 2016, behavioral support consultants stated that Uniform Service Personnel use substances 200 to 300 percent more often compared to the general public. Drug abuse affects the brain and causes physical, mental, social and emotional health problems. Moreover, their use impairs judgment during work. According to Avert (n.d.), the consumption of alcohol stimulates the desire for sexual intercourse, and due to the lack of proper decision, the police may not use condoms and get infected with HIV. Moreover, sharing drug abuse needles leads to the injection of HIV into veins. Conferring to New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene report (2015), two percent of the entire New York City population gets infected through the injection drug misuse.
The police practice unprotected sex. According to New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (2015), heterosexual HIV transmission is equal to 18.4 percent (p. 2). The high percentage shows neglect in the use of condoms. Body fluid contact during emergencies such as fire and accidents may lead to the transfer of HIV among personnel.
Considering the demographics of the New York police department, the population of the employees in 2013 was 49,526. The size of the location they operate sums to 468.9squre miles. The police department possesses nine housing services, 8,839 cars, 11 police boats, eight helicopters and 44 highly trained dogs. Each car gets assigned to two patrol cops. The helicopters ensure the emergency responses get attended to in time. The agency specializes in air support, emergency services, counter-terrorism, criminal investigation, narcotics and public housing. In 2010, 47 percent of the entire 34,526 police employees in the agency consisted of minority groups while 53 percent consisted of whites. Among the 22,199 patrol officers, 53 percent consisted of black. The police department continues to lose officers yearly due to health and emergency issues, and the lives lost have been equal to 841 since 1849. According to BHAE, NYSDO (2014), the police barracks environment contains factors that stimulate risky health sexual activities. For instance, this includes overcrowding, lack of recreational facilities and excessive sharing of tools and other sharp objects. According to Avert (n.d.), 46 percent of the total of new HIV infections is blacks, 28 percent are composed of the whites, 23 percent comprise of the Latino, and 2 percent refer to the Asians. According to Avert (n.d.), 68 percent reported HIV transmission through needle sharing while 33 percent reported the transmission through sexual intercourse. The most affected are groups of people between 20 and 25 years. According to BHAE, NYSDO (2014), in most cases HIV diagnosis occurs among individuals below the age of 40 years. Referring to New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (2015), people between 30 to 39 years contribute to 26.5 percent of the total HIV-infected individuals. Blacks having HIV have the highest value by the percentage of 43.9.
Effects of HIV/AIDS among Police
HIV reduces the body resistance and the strength of the white blood cells to fight the disease causing micro-organism to become adversely affected. Tuberculosis caused by macro bacterium affects the lungs and reduces people’s fitness and body weight due to the reduced immunity. Tuberculosis is common among HIV police patients due to lowered immunity. Due to overcrowding among the police, tuberculosis may spread quickly because of the communicable nature of the disease (Sidibe, 2013, p. 22). Modern tuberculosis bacteria become resistant to drugs if the intake of harmful drugs becomes inconsistent. The police with HIV get easily infected with several diseases such as typhoid and malaria. HIV lowers the police fitness during the line of duty.
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Procedures Used by Police Department to Control and Prevent More HIV/AIDS Infection Among Police
Police department teaches the cops about HIV that plays a significant role in both protecting and controlling the dissemination of the virus. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (2015) states that reducing stigma among police having the virus and encouraging them to go for ARVs help to motivate individuals with such health issues. Police department educates correction officers on how people transfer HIV via open wounds. The police department provides protective clothes when police handle the emergencies such as fire outbreak or accidents that may result in body fluid contact. Moreover, agencies ensure that well-trained police wear protective clothes and gloves when dealing with open wound cases. In case an officer gets infected with the virus immediately, police department transfers them to medical institutions to get post-exposure prophylaxis. Police department ensures individuals with HIV get involved in the HIV programs from the beginning. The police department provides that people get screened before joining, and if anyone is found abusing substances they get punished by the law. The procedure ensures they remain focused and make right decisions during emergencies which prevent further HIV infection.
Prognosis of HIV/AIDS Health Problem among Police
According to Sidibe (2013), prevention methods reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among adults and youths. The opportunities to reduce new infections among police decrease despite the challenges (p. 12). According to the report, antiretroviral therapy reduces the risk of spread of the virus by 96 percent. Since 2011, trends in HIV transmission have shown reduction in the number of new infections (Sidibe, 2013, p. 13). According to Sidibe (2013), there has been a continuous drop in new HIV infections among the police and the general public since 2001.
Methods to Avoid and Control the Spread of HIV/AIDS among Police
The control of the health effect on police and more efficient strategies should be put in place. First, empowering police through education and health programs plays a significant role in improving health. Providing peer support and development training help to reduce stress among uniformed service workers who are known to abuse substances that increase the spread of HIV. Moreover, peer support programs lessen the rate of drug addiction. Providing HIV/AIDS awareness cards to Uniform Service Personnel is one of the essential HIV prevention measures that are aimed to reduce or stop the spread of HIV.
The police department should evaluate the fitness and duty before assigning a worker to determine if a person is ready to handle the task without stress. Individuals with prior pressure may risk the life of other personnel during the mission. Debriefing uniformed service personnel before attending emergency situations would enable them to prepare adequately through putting on protective clothes that may reduce body fluid contact. Pre-employment evaluation should be conducted to help in screening the health status of workers and determine whether they fit police department duties. Screening after a given period plays a significant role in identifying substance abuse among individuals.
The use of small groups of nurses and peer youth service providers to educate police enhances critical awareness when developing public health perception in building a practical sense in the public and supportive environment. Moreover, forming small health learning groups or seminars among the police improves direct feedback from police and their level of understanding regarding community health for the information to be quickly evaluated. Also, strengthening the police through transferring public health policy decision making and powers from department authorities to police members motivates their efforts towards reducing HIV health issues.
Ensuring the health of Uniform Service Personnel through federal law helps in addressing global action against the transition of HIV. Application of peer education among Uniform Service Personnel encourages the members of the agencies to become advocates in ensuring the spread of HIV and other health issues get under control. The study shows that unprotected sex contributes 33 percent of total HIV infection cases among police officers. Sharing of the needle and sharp objects provides 68 percent of total HIV transmission. Therefore, the police should stop handling sharp objects when abusing drugs that may impair their judgment. Moreover, sharing a needle during substance abuse results in injecting the virus into veins. The use of alcohol and substances prevents 28 percent of the infected police officers from taking ART. The police should adopt HIV studies to assist in educating individuals to avoid new infections.