Hiv Prevention And Treatment
If a person is HIV positive, there are treatment options to keep them healthy and prevent them from transmitting it. Thankfully, with proper treatment for HIV, people can live long, healthy lives by keeping their viral load under control in Stage 2.
HIV treatment drugs;suppress a persons viral load or the number of HIV cells in the body. Doctors will monitor the cell count and when it falls an undetectable range, they are considered to be non-transmittable.
Scientific research;has proven that a person cannot transmit HIV to another partner if their viral load is undetectable. ;This is commonly ;which stands for undetectable = untransmittable.
Of course, the best way to stop HIV transmission;is to understand how to protect yourself and others from exposure. Using condoms and avoiding sharing needles is effective but taking PrEP can provide the greatest protection even if you are accidentally exposed.
PrEP is a medication prescribed by a doctor which can lower the risk of HIV transmission;significantly. This drug stops HIV from being able to reproduce in the body. So, it can be taken before exposure and stop HIV transmission.
If a person has knowingly been exposed to HIV and is not currently on PrEP or has missed numerous doses, then they will be prescribed PEP. This is a medication regimen of HIV prevention drugs that must be administered with 72 hours of exposure. This can stop HIV from reproducing and diminish a persons viral load.
Home Test Kits For Hiv
A home test kit for HIV has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration . For the test, you rub your gums with a swab supplied by the kit. Then you place the swab into a vial of liquid. The test strip on the swab indicates if you have HIV or not.
Another type of test kit for HIV is a home blood test kit. This type of kit provides instructions and materials for collecting a small blood sample by sticking your finger with a lancet. The blood is placed onto a special card that is then sent to a lab for analysis. You get the results over the phone using an anonymous code number. Counseling is also available over the phone for people who use the test kit.
If the results from a home test kit show that you have an HIV infection, talk with a doctor.
What Is Hiv What Is Aids
HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system, the body’s natural defense system. Without a strong immune system, the body has trouble fighting off disease. Both the virus and the infection it causes are called HIV.
White blood cells are an important part of the immune system. HIV infects and destroys certain white blood cells called CD4+ cells. If too many CD4+ cells are destroyed, the body can no longer defend itself against infection.
The last stage of HIV infection is AIDS . People with AIDS have a low number of CD4+ cells and get infections or cancers that rarely occur in healthy people. These can be deadly.
But having HIV doesn’t mean you have AIDS. Even without treatment, it takes a long time for HIV to progress to AIDSusually 10 to 12 years.
When HIV is diagnosed before it becomes AIDS, medicines can slow or stop the damage to the immune system. If AIDS does develop, medicines can often help the immune system return to a healthier state.
With treatment, many people with HIV are able to live long and active lives.
There are two types of HIV:
- HIV-1, which causes almost all the cases of AIDS worldwide
- HIV-2, which causes an AIDS-like illness. HIV-2 infection is uncommon in North America.
Recommended Reading: How Does Hiv Affect The Immune System
Coaxing The Immune System To Fight Back
Current treatments for HIV disease are not cures. The medications people now take to stay healthy only suppress HIV enough so that it does not cause harm. As more and more people take HIV medications it is becoming clear that popping pills for the rest of one’s life is probably not a option.
For many, the initial toxicities associated with these medications make longtime use impossible. For others able to deal with the short-term side effects, lipodystrophy, heart disease, osteoporosis, liver damage and neuropathy are frightening thoughts. Even with better medications being developed, the perfect drug combination may never exist.
While a cure for HIV may not be feasible for some time to come, researchers are looking to the body’s immune system for help.
For 20 years science has been studying HIV and the immune system, trying to figure out why unlike so many other diseases, the body just can’t seem to control HIV. What they have found may one day enable us to teach the immune system to control HIV and keep us healthy.
Understanding how the immune system reacts to viral infections has been no easy task. When a doctor in Los Angeles described the first case of AIDS 20 years ago, the immune system still had many mysteries. Today, researchers understand a lot more about how the immune system successfully fights off or suppresses viral infections.
How Hiv Is Spread
HIV is spread when blood, semen, or vaginal fluids from an infected person enter another person’s body, usually through:
- Sexual contact. The virus may enter the body through a tear in the lining of the rectum, vagina, urethra, or mouth. Most cases of HIV are spread this way.
- Infected blood. HIV can be spread when a person:
- Is accidentally stuck with a needle or other sharp item that is contaminated with HIV.
HIV may be spread more easily in the early stage of infection and again later, when symptoms of HIV-related illness develop.
A woman who is infected with HIV can spread the virus to her baby during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.
Also Check: What Causes Hiv To Turn Into Aids
Targets The Bodys Immune System
The human immunodeficiency virus is a virus that attacks the bodys immune system. Over time, and with significant damage to the immune system, it can become harder to fight off infections. When opportunistic infections or cancers begin to develop as a result of a weakened immune system, an individual is considered to have developed acquired immune deficiency syndrome , the most advanced stage of HIV. Before the introduction of antiretroviral therapy in the 1990s, an individual infected with HIV could progress to AIDS very quickly. But with early treatment with antiretroviral therapy, a person diagnosed with HIV can live nearly as long as someone without the disease.
Protein That Activates Immune Response Harms Bodys Ability To Fight Hiv
In findings they call counterintuitive, a team of UCLA-led researchers suggests that blocking a protein, which is crucial to initiating the immune response against viral infections, may actually help combat HIV.
Findings from a study in animals;appear to demonstrate that temporarily blocking a type of protein, called type I interferon, can restore immune function and speed up viral suppression during treatment with anti-viral drugs for people with chronic infection of the virus that causes AIDS.
This is the first study to show the role that type I interferon plays in driving the bodys immune destruction during HIV infection, said Scott Kitchen, associate professor of medicine in the division of hematology/oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and senior author of the study published in the peer-reviewed;Journal of Clinical Investigation.
This finding is completely counterintuitive, because many believe that the more interferon at work, the better, said Kitchen, a member of the UCLA AIDS Institute. We show that the type of interferon being produced during chronic stages of HIV infection has detrimental effects on the bodys ability to fight off HIV and other types of infection or cancer and could actually be contributing to accelerated HIV disease.
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Cellular Immune Responses To Hiv
- Cytotoxic lymphocyte production follows the rise of HIV in the blood.
- HIV specific CD4+ T cells may be especially susceptible to attack and destruction by HIV. HIV binds to CD-SIGN, a glycoprotein expressed on dendritic cells. Migrationof HIV bearing activated dendritic cells to helper T cell areas of lymph nodes may specifically infect helper T cells specific for HIV peptides.
- Reductions in HIV specific helper T cell numbers may lead to decreased activation and survival of cytotoxic CD8 T cells.
- Reduced CD4 T cells may also result in an incomplete activation of CD8 T cells that can remove HIV infected cells, resulting in a decreasedability to destroy virally infected cells.
- The rapid loss of memory helper T cells, and the inability to replace these cells leads to increasing immunodeficiency.
- High mutation rates of HIV also allow virus to escape adaptive immune responses.
What Are The Factors That Affect Disease Progression
The most important factor affecting HIV progression is the ability to achieve viral suppression. Taking antiretroviral therapy regularly helps many people slow the progression of HIV and reach viral suppression.
However, a variety of factors affect HIV progression, and some people progress through the phases of HIV more quickly than others.
Factors that affect HIV progression can include:
- Ability to achieve viral suppression. Whether someone can take their antiretroviral medications and achieve viral suppression is the most important factor by far.
- Age when symptoms start. Being older can result in faster progression of HIV.
- Health before treatment. If a person had other diseases, such as tuberculosis, hepatitis C, or other sexually transmitted diseases , it can affect their overall health.
- Timing of diagnosis. Another important factor is how soon a person was diagnosed after they contracted HIV. The longer between their diagnosis and treatment, the more time the disease has to progress unchecked.
- Lifestyle. Practicing an unhealthy lifestyle, such as having a poor diet and experiencing severe stress, can cause HIV to progress more quickly.
- Genetic history. Some people seem to progress more quickly through their disease given their genetic makeup.
Some factors can delay or slow the progression of HIV. These include:
Living a healthy lifestyle and seeing a healthcare provider regularly can make a big difference in a persons overall health.
Recommended Reading: How Do You Know If You Got Hiv
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Those two people are part of a rare group of people known as elite controllers, meaning they are able to maintain very low or undetectable levels of HIV without antiretroviral drugs. These people have no symptoms or clear signs of damage from the virus. Its not even that were talking about a few months or a few years. Its extremely long-term, says Satya Dandekar, an HIV researcher at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine who was not involved in the study. In contrast, for 99.5 percent or more of the worlds 35 million people infected with the virus, drugs are the only way to keep the virus down.
Researchers want to know how elite controllers quash the virus for long periods of time. It has been difficult to figure it out, Dandekar says, because no one has recorded the first fight scenes between HIV and the elite controllers immune systems. We miss the initial punches the immune system has thrown at the virus. And by the time anyone recognizes an elite controller, the fight is already won.
But to our surprise, thats not the case, she says. Instead, most elite controllers in the study have more intact virus than expected. So Yu and colleagues looked to see where the virus had landed in patients DNA.
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New Knowledge About The Body’s Fight Against Hiv
- Aarhus University
- A study of the body’s reactions to the HIV virus has led to new understanding of the immune system’s fight against HIV. The discovery is an important step on the road towards the future development of new methods for treating HIV.
When a person is infected with HIV the virus infects the cells of the immune system. From here the virus spreads around the body, while at the same time breaking down important parts of the body’s defence system. HIV’s ability to avoid being eliminated by the body’s immune system — as opposed to many other types of virus — is one of the main problems associated with this widespread virus. But Danish researchers have now found out how the body’s own defence system is activated when the HIV virus infects a cell, and how this helps to protect against uncontrolled virus growth. The new knowledge can potentially be used to help the immune system defend itself more effectively against HIV.
The body defends itself against HIV
Studies of people infected by HIV have registered a degree of “excessive activation” of the immune system, which contributes to the development of AIDS. But until now what has been missing is knowledge about how the immune system is able to trace the HIV virus and, more precisely which positive and negative reactions this leads to in the immune system. It is here that the study contributes with fundamental new knowledge.
Assisting the immune system
Also Check: What Are The Early Signs Of Hiv In Females
The Effects Of Hiv On The Body
Most people are likely familiar with HIV, but they may not know how it can affect the body.
HIV destroys CD4 cells , which are critical to the immune system. CD4 cells are responsible for keeping people healthy and protecting them from common diseases and infections.
As HIV gradually weakens the bodys natural defenses, signs and symptoms will occur.
Find out what happens when the virus enters the body and interrupts its systems.
Once HIV enters the body, it launches a direct attack on the immune system.
How quickly the virus progresses will vary by:
- a persons age
- how quickly theyre diagnosed
The timing of their treatment can make a huge difference as well.
HIV targets the types of cells that would normally fight off an invader such as HIV. As the virus replicates, it damages or destroys the infected CD4 cell and produces more virus to infect more CD4 cells.
Without treatment, this cycle can continue until the immune system is badly compromised, leaving a person at risk for serious illnesses and infections.
However, not everyone with HIV will go on to develop AIDS. The earlier a person receives treatment, the better their outcome will be.
Early on, HIV symptoms may be mild enough to be dismissed.
How Hiv Suppresses The Immune System
To understand how HIV damages the immune system, we have to dive into some pretty scientific concepts.
The genetic makeup of an HIV viral cell has genetic material called RNA which helps it to reproduce more cells. For HIV cells to replicate, they need to latch onto healthy white blood cells called T cells. These cells contain certain proteins which HIV needs to duplicate itself and grow.
Your bodys immune system produces T cells to fight off infections but when an HIV cell takes hold, it will destroy the T cell to reproduce.
So, when a person is exposed to HIV, these cells will start to slowly reproduce in the body. The immune system will naturally pump out more T cells to try and fight off the virus but these cells will be destroyed by the HIV cells.
Eventually, this will leave the bodys immune system overwhelmed and totally defenseless to any disease. Once the bodys immune system is significantly weakened, then they may be diagnosed with AIDS, which stands for Acquired Immuno-Deficiency Syndrome. This progression of HIV to AIDS;occurs over 5 to 10 years;if the person does not receive any treatment.
Read Also: How Does Hiv Aids Spread
Adaptive Immune Response To Hiv
Cellular immune response to HIV. The cellular immune response is induced upon the entry of HIV into the target cells and synthesis of viral proteins . MHC class I on the cell surface displays the intracellularly degraded HIV peptide fragments for recognition by T-cell receptors on CD8+ T cells . CD8+ T cells lyse HIV infected cells and secrete cytokines, i.e. interferon- , tumor necrosis factor , and chemokines, i.e. MIP-1 , MIP and RANTES, that inhibit virus replication and block; viral entry into CD4+ T cells. Development of CD8+ T cells is crucial for control of HIV replication. This results in declining viraemia after primary infection. In the early stages of infection, CD4+ T cells lose their proliferative capacity and therefore their contribution to viral control is minor. However, during chronic infection CD4+T cells are present and secrete interleukin-2 or cytokines, such as IFN-, to control viraemia.
How Is Aids Diagnosed
AIDS is the last and most severe stage of HIV infection. It is diagnosed if the results of your test show that you have:
- A CD4+ cell count of less than 200 cells per microliter of blood.
- A certain kind of infection called an opportunistic infection that is common in people who have weakened immune systems, such as Kaposi’s sarcoma or Pneumocystispneumonia.
Also Check: How Long Can Hiv Lay Dormant
How Does Acute Hiv Affect The Body
Once a person contracts HIV, the acute infection takes place immediately.
Symptoms of the acute infection may take place days to weeks after the virus has been contracted. During this time, the virus is multiplying rapidly in the body, unchecked.
This initial HIV stage can result in flu-like symptoms. Examples of these symptoms include:
- myalgias, or muscle pain
However, not all people with HIV experience initial flu-like symptoms.
The flu symptoms are due to the increase of copies of HIV and widespread infection in the body. During this time, the amount of CD4 cells starts to fall very quickly. The immune system then kicks in, causing CD4 levels to rise once again. However, the CD4 levels may not return to their pre-HIV height.
In addition to potentially causing symptoms, the acute stage is when people with HIV have the greatest chance of transmitting the virus to others. This is because HIV levels are very high at this time. The acute stage typically lasts between several weeks and months.