What is prevalence?

What Does prevalence Mean

In order to determine the meaning of the term prevalence, it is necessary, first of all, to know its etymological origin. In this case, we can say that it derives from Latin, specifically from the sum of three clearly delimited components:

-The prefix “pre-”, which can be translated as before.

-The verb "valere", which is synonymous with "remain in fullness".

-The element "entity", which indicates "agent".

-The suffix “-ia”, which is used to establish a “quality”.

Prevalence is a term that can be linked to two verbs: prevail and prevail . These concepts refer to taking advantage of something to obtain an advantage , to the possibility of staying or the condition of that or that which is imposed.
For example: "The prevalence of Spanish teams in the continental tournament was evident" , "The prevalence of any of those involved in the case cannot be observed" , "The study confirms the prevalence of Chinese companies in the sector" .

Within the field of medicine , we speak of the prevalence to name the index of individuals who suffer from a certain disease within the total of a group of people under study. It is, therefore, a notion frequently used in epidemiology (the discipline specialized in the origin and development of epidemics).
According to the number of people who suffer from a health disorder within a certain group, the prevalence in question can be estimated. This prevalence is a proportion : it reveals how many individuals out of a total are sick. If in an office where twenty people work, there are ten who suffer from the flu, it can be said that the prevalence of the flu in that office is, at this moment, 50% .
It is possible to differentiate between period prevalence (which reveals the proportion of patients at an uncertain moment) and point prevalence (referred to a specific moment). In our example above, the proportion refers to a point prevalence.
The prevalence allows epidemiologists to analyze and explain various health problems . Based on this kind of data, public health policies are developed that seek to ensure that citizens stay healthy or that those who have become ill can be cured or receive the appropriate treatment.
We have to establish that, at times, what is prevalence and what is incidence is often confused within the medical field. However, it must be made clear that they are two totally different things:

-The prevalence comes to make clear the proportion of the population that, at a given moment, suffers from a disease and that is going to be studied. As a general rule, it is a term that is used to carry out the analysis of chronic pathologies and even to be able to establish measures and projects in favor of healthcare needs or medical services.

-The incidence, on the other hand, what comes is to show the number of new cases of the aforementioned pathology that we are studying and that arise in a given period. Precisely for this reason, it is a term that is used to analyze infectious diseases.

These are, therefore, two different concepts. However, that does not prevent that they do have an interconnection, that they need each other and that they are very useful within the field of medicine.

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