Infectious Diseases with Healthy People 2020

Understanding diseases present within the community allows public health nurses to prioritize health promotion and disease prevention strategies.

Analyze infectious diseases by:

Defining epidemiology, outbreak, incidence, and prevalence
Evaluating the role of nursing within epidemiology
Evaluating current infectious diseases locally, statewide, and nationally
Associating three of the most current infectious diseases with Healthy People 2020 objectives
Analyzing evidence-based practices aimed at reducing infectious diseases


Infectious Diseases with Healthy People 2020

Infectious diseases result from bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi in the human body. These diseases involve a triad infection model, which entails the disease, host, agent, and environmental factors. The interplay between these components facilitates infectious diseases’ prevalence and incidences among vulnerable populations. Examples of infectious diseases are tuberculosis (TB), HIV/AIDS, malaria, typhoid, and the recent coronavirus strand (Covid-19). Undoubtedly, these diseases result in adverse consequences, including increased mortality and morbidity rates, poor quality of life (QoL), prolonged hospitalization, and long-term dependency on pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions. While preventing, treating, and managing these diseases represent an ideal measure of care quality, this paper focuses on their epidemiology, outbreak, prevalence, and incidences in the US. Also, it elaborates on the role of nursing in combating infectious diseases and the rationale of Healthy People 2020 objectives in improving the health and wellness of vulnerable populations.

Epidemiology, Outbreak, Incidence, and Prevalence of Infectious Diseases

Disease epidemiology entails the scientific study of disease distribution, frequency, patterns, and determinants of health-related to the state of vulnerable populations. An outbreak is the sudden rise of new infections or diseases at a given time. On the other hand, disease prevalence refers to the proportion of people who have infections at a given time. Finally, incidence refers to the proportion of the population who develops a condition, including acquiring infections at a particular time. Therefore, the disease’s incidence is the measure of new cases.

As stated earlier, infectious diseases have an epidemiological triad which entails agents, host, and environmental factors. According to van Seventer & Hochberg (2017), agents are pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites for disease causation. In many infectious diseases, the host is humans who contact pathogens due to the interactions between environmental factors that increase vulnerability to exposure. Van Seventer & Hochberg (2017) argue that agents and hosts interact in various stages, including infection, disease, and recovery or death. It is essential to note that agent and host factors and environmental aspects are determinants for infectious diseases. For example, malaria prevalence depends massively upon levels of exposure to the pathogen-bearing parasite (mosquitoes), the host’s susceptibility, and the availability of ideal environmental factors for pathogens thriving. Epidemiological knowledge of infectious diseases enables healthcare professionals to determine diseases’ transmission patterns, frequency, and determinants of health pertinent to vulnerable populations.

The Role of Nursing Within Epidemiology

As stated earlier, disease epidemiology entails scientific evaluation and study of its transmission patterns, frequency, and prevailing health determinants. Undoubtedly, understanding disease’s epidemiological aspects represents the primary attempt to develop evidence-based prevention, management, and treatment practices. Nurses play an active role in investigating transmission patterns, incidences, and prevalence of infectious diseases. According to Rebmann & Carrico (2017), one vital nursing practice regarding infectious diseases is proper infection prevention procedures. In this sense, failure to prevent infections can result in occupational exposures and disease transmission. Other nursing practices pertinent to preventing, managing, and treating infections are occupational risk assessment, development of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions, surveillance, conceptualizing evidence-based precaution standards, and enhancing people’s self-care competencies.

Current Infectious Diseases in the US

Notably, infectious diseases have varying effects, incidences, and prevalence rates across states in the US. The primary reason for discrepancies in infectious diseases’ prevalence and incidences is consistent preparedness, management, and treatment strategies. Despite overarching efforts by states and the national government, diseases such as TB, HIV, Malaria, and Covid-19 are prevalent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2022), over 1.1 million people aged 13 and older had HIV in the US in 2019. In the same breath, up to 13 million Americans live with TB, with the disease’s prevalence rate being 2.2 persons per 100000 persons. Also, the country records over 2000 malaria cases each year (CDC, 2022). The Covid-19 pandemic has more far-reaching effects and prevalence. According to CDC (2022), the disease accounted for over 900000 deaths by the end of February 2022. These statistics are dynamic and vary across states, with the burden disproportionately affecting ethnic minorities, people in rural underserved communities, low-income individuals, and people with low-level education.

Associating the Three Most Current Infectious Diseases with Heathy People 2020 Objectives

Healthy People 2020 documents objectives for preventing, managing, and treating infectious diseases. Many objectives set by Healthy People 2020 are consistent with the three current infectious diseases, including malaria, HIV, and Covid-19. The Healthy People 2020 aims at reducing the number of new HIV diagnoses (objective HIV-1), increasing the proportion of persons living with HIV who know their serostatus (objective HIV-13), and increasing the proportion of sexually active people who use condoms (objective HIV-17). These are among profound objectives for preventing and reducing HIV prevalence.

Similarly, Healthy People 2020 objectives cut across other infectious diseases by promoting preventive measures like immunization for children and vulnerable populations. Healthy People 2020 (n.d) suggests proper use of vaccines, antibiotics, screening and testing guidelines, and scientific improvements in diseases’ diagnosis as profound evidence-based practices for addressing infectious diseases. These recommendations are applicable in preventing and responding to current diseases such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Evidence-based Practices for Reducing Infectious Diseases

Evidence-based preventive measures are essential in enhancing health and intercepting transmission patterns for infectious diseases. According to Ellwanger et al. (2021), vaccination is an effective strategy for interrupting the chain of disease transmission and is a means of achieving herd immunity. Besides vaccines, it is possible to prevent and manage infectious diseases by encouraging large-scale testing and diagnosis, reducing human-human and human-animal contact, climate change containment, vector control, and maintaining environmental health (Ellwanger et al., 2021). Finally, community education, promoting hygiene, creating awareness of preventive behaviors, reducing social disparities and inequalities, and ensuring access to proper nutrition are evidence-based practices for reducing people’s susceptibility to infectious diseases.


Infectious diseases such as TB, HIV, Malaria, influenza, and Covid-19 result in adverse consequences, including deaths, increased economic burden, lengthy hospitalization, and compromised quality of life. They emanate from agents such as parasites, viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Although states and the national government have achieved milestones for preventing and eliminating various diseases, they remain a health concern, especially with Covid-19 emergence. Therefore, it is essential to embrace evidence-based preventive measures such as vaccines, environment hygiene, climate change containment, community-based education programs, large-scale testing and diagnosis, and ensuring access to proper nutrition.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, February 2). CDC – malaria – about malaria. Retrieved March 16, 2022, from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, February 28). HIV: Statistics overview. Retrieved March 16, 2022, from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, February 28). Tuberculosis (TB): Data & Statistics. Retrieved March 16, 2022, from

Ellwanger, J. H., Veiga, A. B., Kaminski, V. de, Valverde-Villegas, J. M., Freitas, A. W., & Chies, J. A. (2021). Control and Prevention of Infectious Diseases from a one health perspective. Genetics and Molecular Biology, 44(1 suppl 1).

Healthy People 2020. (n.d.). Immunization and infectious diseases. Retrieved March 16, 2022, from

Rebmann, T., & Carrico, R. (2017). Consistent infection prevention: Vital during routine and emerging infectious diseases care. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 22(1).

van Seventer, J. M., & Hochberg, N. S. (2017). Principles of infectious diseases: Transmission, diagnosis, prevention, and control. International Encyclopedia of Public Health, 22–39.

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