Full Project – Design and implementation of HIV and AIDS diagnosis expert system

Full Project – Design and implementation of HIV and AIDS diagnosis expert system

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                                  CHAPTER ONE



The quality of service delivery all around the world is continuously improved by the usage of computer-based applications. These applications are mostly built based on artificial intelligence which is the area of computer science that focuses on the creation of machines that can perform functions considered as intelligent by humans. These functions performed by the machines are highly sensitive and require knowledge in the domain where these machines are designed to act as if originally, they are in control of situations. The ability to create such machine has intrigued humans since the advent of technology, and today, with the introduction of computers and great research of ages into the field of Artificial Intelligence programming techniques, the production and design of smart machines is becoming a reality as researchers can now build a system which can mimic human thought and understand human behavior via expert system technology.

An expert system is a computer application that performs a task that would otherwise be performed by a human expert; such tasks include but are not limited to making financial forecast, scheduling routes for delivery vehicles, diagnosing human illnesses, and several others. Most expert systems are designed to take human place while others are designed to aid humans. To design an expert system, the domain of the knowledge field is required, so an individual needs to be able to study how the human expert makes decisions and translate the rules used into terms that the computer would understand. Expert system is an example of a symbolic paradigm being one of the two major paradigms for developing intelligent systems in the field of artificial intelligence.




The continuous increase in population without a corresponding increase in medical infrastructure, biased, , inconsistency, retirement or death of human experts,  has brought about drastic limitations in health care sector this has made it necessary to think of designing an expert system that can assist the health sector in the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS.



The relevance of this study cannot be overemphasized as the numerous challenges faced in the medical area of HIV/AIDS are so obvious that most health practitioners tend to shy away from providing services, this has put much work load on the few agencies offering such services, which are mostly non-governmental organizations. An expert system for diagnosing HIV/AIDS is therefore a system with enormous level of significance that cannot be undermined; this system will be of great benefit to not just man but also government and health sectors. The obvious challenges faced by the government, health sector and individual are enough to suggest that the relevance of the system are not limited to but include the following;      

Professionalism: This system shall contain valid and well researched algorithm that shall aid in decision making, this decision support system shall be written on the basis of the manually collected data and enhanced through well designed syntax to take decisions that are seen to be from facts already programmed, by this the system tends to be very professional and reliable. The system is also not prone to mistakes and can be easily updated.

Reduced time consumption:      One of the major advantages of an expert system is speed, the system to be designed will reduce the time consumption of record handling and enhance efficiency as the workload will be reduced to the minimum level.

Proper data collection: The expert system will use a secured database management system to safely store information that can be collected and made reference to when required.

Confidentiality: The system will handle the issue of the fear of result and status exposure, people believe that with the already existing manual system, their results pass through hands that they should not, with the computerized system, anonymity and patient’s confidentiality will be maintained.

Ease in learning: The time used in learning the procedure of proper diagnosis will be reduced as knowledge of experts using the system will be documented for further reference by those who will be coming in newly from time to time. this will improve learning in the domain



The general aim of this study is to design a knowledge based expert system with a medical encapsulation for the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, and the specified objectives are: grant access to registered client, provide links for client to explore information on HIV/AIDS, perform client’s risk factor analysis through logical test, determine results and display client’s computer-based laboratory test. the system will handle facts about the domain of study and tend to use this known facts with the information provided by the users to check how corresponding it is for an effective decision making.


1.5             SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The study covers the design of a knowledge based system in the medical domain of HIV/AIDS diagnosis, the knowledge based system handles symptomatic fields of relatedness to the one understudy where patients are checked through stepwise procedure using the following;

  1. Voluntary pre-test counseling: This link will handle risk assessment where the person under diagnosis will be briefly introduced to factors that transmit HIV virus and other related ailments, they will also be taught on risk reduction methods where general advice will be given on how to live a medically healthy life.
  2. Voluntary HIV/AIDS testing: This is done using approved HIV testing protocol which uses three different HIV/AIDS test kits for HIV/AIDS confirmatory test before result is given out.
  3. Voluntary post counseling: This link handles emotional support and referral, in this aspect, individuals whose test results are made available are advised, and this advice is of two distinct levels;

       i      If diagnosis reads negative, the individual is advised on how to remain negative and healthy, this is done based on what to do and not to do so as to avoid contacting the virus.

       ii     If diagnosis reads positive, emotional talks are delivered to show the patients that positive test result does not mean the end as people living with the HIV/AIDS virus can still live a normal and healthy life like everyone else, further tests are then carried on for drug placement and dispensing.


1.6              DEFINITIONS OF TERMS

Artificial Intelligence (Artificial Intelligence):   The phrase “Artificial Intelligence” can be defined as the simulation of human intelligence on a machine, so as to make the machine efficient to identify and use the right piece of “Knowledge” at a given step of solving a problem. (Konar, 2000)

Expert Systems (ES):  This is a type of computer application that makes decision or solves problems in a particular field such as finance and medicine by using knowledge and analytical rules defined by domain experts  (Noran, 2000).

Decision Support System (DSS):  This refers to an interactive computerized system that gathers and presents data from a wide range of sources, they are systems and sub-systems that assist people in decision making based on data collected from a wide range of sources (Marek J. Druzdzel and Roger R. Flynn, 2002).

Intelligence:  This is a term for referring to general mental capability to reason, solve problems, think abstractly, learn and understand to make decisions (Microsoft Encarta, 2009).

Fact:       This is a concept in philosophy that treats both the meaning of the word true and the criteria by which we judge the truth or falsity in spoken and written statements (Microsoft Encarta, 2009)

Domain:  The term, domain, refers to a particular area of study, it is also used to describe the scope of a subject and an area of activity over which somebody has influence (Noran, 2000).

Knowledge:     This is a theoretical or practical understanding of a subject or domain, those who posses knowledge are called experts, a domain expert is one who has deep knowledge of both facts and rules and strong practical experience in a particular domain (Noran, 2000).

Domain Knowledge:  This is that knowledge which is specific to a study area and not general or common sense knowledge (Noran, 2000).

Heuristic KnowledgeThese are judgmental knowledge that underlines expertise; they are usually implicit and are not necessarily being explicit even to the expert.

Knowledge Base: This is the part of a program in which rules and other methods of representations are used to store domain knowledge (Noran, 2000).

Inference Mechanism: This provides the reasoning ability that enables the expert system to form conclusions (Noran, 2000).


HIVThis is an Acronym for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, infectious agent that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a disease that leaves a person vulnerable to life-threatening infections (Microsoft Encarta, 2009).

Counseling:   Advice or guidance, especially as provided by a professional in a given field (Microsoft Encarta, 2009).

Pre test counseling: This provides an opportunity for clients to explore their risk of HIV, to learn about the strategies for avoiding HIV, and help clients decide whether to take the HIV test (www.patient.co.uk/health/hiv-and-aids).

Counselors:   They are persons who have received special training in client centered HIV counseling. They do not only provide information, they also help the client make an informed choice about HIV testing, adoption of safe behavioral practices in order to reduce and minimize HIV transmission and facilitate coping with the psychosocial impact of a positive HIV test result (www.patient.co.uk/health/hiv-and-aids).

Voluntary: It is a self decision that is not based on force from any one, the decision to pursue HIV testing must be made by the client after counseling (Microsoft Encarta, 2009).

Window period: The window period is described as the time it takes for a person who has been infected to test positive for HIV antibodies (www.patient.co.uk/health/hiv-and-aids).

Adherence: Taking medications exactly as prescribed. Poor adherence to HIV treatment increases risk for developing drug resistant (www.patient.co.uk/health/hiv-and-aids).

CD4 T-cellsCD4 T-cells also known as helper T-cells acts as a co-coordinator of the immune response, they are unfortunately the main targets of the HIV. HIV destroys infected CD4 T-cells leading to an overall weakening of the immune system (www.who.int/).

Cluster of Differentiation (CD4) Count:    This is also known as CD4 cell count or CD4 Lymphocyte count. It is a laboratory test that measures the number of CD4 cells in a sample of blood (www.who.int/)

Testing: This is a laboratory procedure for detecting ailments, in HIV/AIDS diagnosis, it is a way of detecting antibodies in the serum or plasma, and they include tests like the Elisa test and the rapid HIV tests. (Microsoft Encarta,  2009)

Baseline testBase line testing includes CD4 count, viral load and resistant testing, the results are used to guide HIV treatment choices and monitor effectiveness of Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART). Baseline is an initial measurement used as the basis for future comparison (www.who.int/).

Confirmatory test: A specific test designed to confirm the result of an earlier test, it is an important test for eliminating false positive result where a negative sample will tend to read positive (www.who.int/).

Risk reduction: The goal of HIV counseling is to eliminate risk, it is discovered that this can be best achieved through small steps for incremental behavioral changes that bring a reduction in risk of infection (www.who.int/).

Referral: The act or process of directing somebody or something to somebody else, especially of sending a patient to consult a medical specialist (Microsoft Encarta, 2009).

Condom: A close-fitting rubber covering worn by a man over the penis during sexual intercourse to prevent pregnancy or the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (Microsoft Encarta, 2009).

Opportunistic infections: They are infections that take advantage of a weakened immune system; they include bacterial infections, fungal infections, pneumonia e.t.c (Cichocki, 2009).

World Health Organization (WHO):   Agency of the United Nations that organizes and funds health-care programs in nearly every country in the world. established in 1948 (Microsoft Encarta, 2009).

UNAIDS: UNAIDS, is the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, it is an initiative partnership that leads and inspires the world in achieving universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support (www.unaids.org/).

Antiretroviral Therapy (ART):    This is treatment of people infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) using anti-HIV drugs. The standard treatment consists of a combination of at least three drugs (often called Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) that suppresses HIV replication. ART has the potential both to reduce mortality and morbidity rates among HIV-infected people, and to improve their quality of life.


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Full Project – Design and implementation of HIV and AIDS diagnosis expert system