The concept of health has a significant amount of uncertainty in it as it is a concept having several dimensions which are complex and sometimes vague in behavior. The WHO has formulated its definition of health in the year 1948. The international organizations working under United Nations defines health as
A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease and infirmity (WHO, 1948). The definition presented by the WHO is holistic in nature and represents three interrelated concepts of health.
Physical or Biomedical:
The biomedical or physiological component of the health concerns with the medical or physical aspects of the health. This aspect of the health is often attributed to the physical reliability and soundness of the body. The disease in this case is attributed to malfunction of a specific part of the body and introduction of harmful organisms such as viruses and parasites in the human body. Such factors may cause breakdown of the affected individual. The physiological aspect of the health is the most important biomedical determinant. The physiological aspect of the health is used to determine the quality of health for an individual.
For an individual to be healthy, the biological components of the body must be in order. The health is determined through a diagnosis procedure which determines which part of the body is affected or malfunctioned. The detection of any intrusion of viruses or disease can also be carried out through proper diagnosis process. The emerging symptoms of disease and the pathways in human pathology are determined in the diagnosis process. The determination of biomedical health may include several clinical examinations and laboratory tests. One can be declared as healthy if there is no threat to physiological aspects of the health.
The social aspect of human health concerns the behavioral aspects of human life. The humans are considered as social animals. Being a member of a society a person has several social interactions and social responsibilities and expectations. If a person is not fit enough to meet its social responsibility and expectations than it represents a form social pathology. In other words, there is an abnormality in the person who is not able to meet the social requirements of the society. The social aspect of the health also includes a spiritual dimension. The spiritual dimension is personal to the individual and it concerns the behavior adopted by the person while connecting to the world of reality and divinity. The human beings are treated with medicine considering them social beings. The health of these social beings might be affected by social behavior and interaction.
The functional health is generally regarded as an integrative approach taken to treat the illness and promoting well being by focusing on the unique aspects of individual patients. The approach after taking a scientific approach towards individual patient then implies individual tailored interventions in order to restore physiological, psychological and structural balance (WP 2016).
Functional status of an individual refers to the ability to perform daily activities which are required to meet basic needs, fulfillment of usual roles, maintain health and well-being. The subsets of the functional status are functional interests, capacity and functional performance. The functional capacity refers to the maximum ability of the person to carry out daily activities. These activities belong to social, spiritual and psychological domains of life. Functional performance generally means the activities performed by people during their life. A maximal activity test measures the functional capacity while a self-report of activities can measure the functional performance of the individual under study (ATS 2016).
The problem which is focused in this paper is HIV AIDS. The plague of AIDS has raised several social concerns. It reminds of the behavior adopted by the society when perceiving any disease. The society has always tried to exempt and reassure there pre-determined etiologies.
Social construction is a conceptual framework or approach which focuses on cultural and historical aspects of diseases which are considered as natural by the society. The social construction examines how the individuals and groups contribute in developing a perception about a certain disease. The approach of social construction is rooted in the two aspects disease (biological aspect) and illness (psychological or social aspect). Unlike medical approach, which treats the disease as a universal phenomenon independent of time or place the social construction approach discusses the experience of illness shaped by the social interaction. The common socially constructed illnesses are madness and depression.
AIDS is also a socially constructed illness as the general perception of the society towards the disease is the punishment by God or Nature of doing unlawful sex. The first question which comes into the mind after the diagnosis of AIDS is. From where the germs come from?.
Parsons Sick Role and AIDS
Parson was functionalist sociologist who presented the argument that a person suffering from chronic (a condition which can be controlled but not cured) illness enters in a role sanctioned deviance. From functionalist prospective a sick person is not a productive member of the society. Sick role behavior is the activity undertaken by the people who are suffering from a certain illness. There are certain rights and obligations of the people who get sick. The tow basic rights of sick person according sociologist approach are exemption from general society roles and secondly the person is not responsible for illness. The two basic obligations of the sick person are person should try to get well and secondly person should try to find professional help and extend his/her corporation to the medical professionals. A person having AIDS according sociologist approach should try to get well and control its disease by getting medical help. The society also has to understand that a person suffering from AIDS is not responsible for his/her condition.
Iatrogenesis means the illness which is created by a certain medical activity. The term was introduced in the field of sociology by Ivan Illich (Marshal 1998). The author was famous for his attacks on the industrial society and technological institutions. He distinguished three major types of Iatrogenesis. Clinical latrogenesis is referred to ill-health contracted in the hospitals. These include the side effects of the medicine and ignorance of the doctors. Social Iatrogesis refers to the process by which medical profession make a sick person dependent on the industrial and environmental medicine. It makes the people to place themselves at the mercy of the medical professionals. Finally the cultural iatrogenesis means the society weakens the will of its members especially the sick persons. The entire society becomes overmedicalized (Marshal 1998).
The above meaning of iatrgenesis is true in the case of AIDS as there are certain diseases in AIDS arising from the medicine used to control AIDS such as, physical weakness and continuous fever are some common side effects of the medicine used to treat AIDS. The society also plays a negative role and makes the patient suffering from the disease weak and dependent on the medicine.
Implications of Social Health and AIDS
To address the problem of AIDS one has to critically analyze the role of society, health professionals and individual patients. So far the society has not played a positive role to resolve the problem. As mentioned earlier the general perception towards the illness is punishment for wrong or unlawful acts. The society has to acknowledge the fact that getting sick is not the fault of the patient. Secondly, the medical professionals also need to focus on the individual patients using functional health approach. Understanding the individual patients behavior and condition can facilitate in controlling the plague. Finally, the patients should recognize their responsibilities and the fact that it is not their fault that they got sick. The patients should try to get best medical help they can in order to get well and be a productive part of the society.
ATS, (2016). Functional Status. [online] Qol.thoracic.org. Available at: http://qol.thoracic.org/sections/key-concepts/functional-status.html [Accessed 12 May 2016].
Marshal, G. (1998). iatrogenesis Dictionary definition of iatrogenesis | Encyclopedia.com: FREE online dictionary. [online] Encyclopedia.com. Available at: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O88-iatrogenesis.html [Accessed 12 May 2016].
WP, (2016). Functional Health. [online] Drsantucci.com. Available at: http://www.drsantucci.com/functionalhealth/ [Accessed 12 May 2016].
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