How Are Hiv And Aids Treated
Medicines can help people with HIV stay healthy. They can also prevent HIV from progressing to AIDS.
Health care providers prescribe a combination of different medicines for people with HIV and AIDS. They must be taken exactly as prescribed or they won’t work. These medicines:
- help keep the number of CD4 cells high
- reduce the viral load of HIV
Regular blood tests will check the number of CD4 cells in the body and the viral load.
If an HIV-positive person’s CD4 count gets low, doctors prescribe daily antibiotics. This prevents pneumocystis pneumonia, which happens in people with weakened immune systems.
Mechanism Of Hiv Infection
Once in the body, HIV attaches to several types of white blood cells. The most important are certain helper T lymphocytes involves white blood cells that travel through the bloodstream and into tissues, searching for and attacking microorganisms and… read more ). Helper T lymphocytes activate and coordinate other cells of the immune system. On their surface, these lymphocytes have a receptor called CD4, which enables HIV to attach to them. Thus, these helper lymphocytes are designated as CD4+.
). Once inside a CD4+ lymphocyte, the virus uses an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to make a copy of its RNA, but the copy is made as deoxyribonucleic acid that contain the code for a specific protein that functions in one or more types of cells in the body. Chromosomes are structures within cells… read more ). HIV mutates easily at this point because reverse transcriptase is prone to making errors during the conversion of HIV RNA to DNA. These mutations make HIV more difficult to control because the many mutations increase the chance of producing HIV that can resist attacks by the persons immune system and/or antiretroviral drugs.
Is Hiv And Aids An Occupational Concern
Where ever there is the possibility of contact with blood in the workplace, workers should take precautions to prevent contact with the skin, eyes or mucous membranes .
Routine Practices are recommended to prevent the spread of HIV in the workplace. Routine practices are based on the principle that all blood, body fluids, secretions, and excretions except sweat, non-intact skin, and mucous membranes, unless they contain visible blood, may contain transmissible infectious agents. Steps involve using protective clothing such as gloves, gowns or aprons, masks and protective eye wear when dealing with people’s blood and other blood-contaminated body fluids such as semen and vaginal secretions. They also do not apply to saliva except in dentistry where saliva is likely to be contaminated with blood.
Hand washing after contact with blood, blood-contaminated body fluids and soiled items is also recommended to reduce the risk of infection.
The best approach to most diseases is to prevent their occurrence – occupationally-related diseases are no exception. In the case of HIV, prevention is the only cure.
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Preventing Transmission From Mother To Newborn
Pregnant women infected with HIV can transmit the virus to the newborn.
The following can help prevent HIV transmission from mother to newborn Prevention of transmission for infected mothers Human immunodeficiency virus infection is a viral infection that progressively destroys certain white blood cells and causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome . Human immunodeficiency… read more :
Testing pregnant women to determine whether they are infected with HIV
If they are infected, treating them with antiretroviral drugs during pregnancy and labor
Delivering the baby by cesarean rather than by vaginal delivery
After birth, treating the newborn with zidovudine, given intravenously, for 6 weeks
If possible, using formula instead of breastfeeding
How Antiretroviral Drugs Affect The Body
While there is no cure for HIV, antiretroviral therapy can reduce the amount of the virus in the blood to very low levels. By doing this, it keeps the person healthy and prevents the transmission of the virus to other people.
A very low, or undetectable, viral load means that the risk of transmission to others is virtually zero, which has led to the phrase: undetectable = untransmittable .
Experts encourage all people with HIV, regardless of their CD4 T-cell count, to start taking antiretroviral drugs as soon as possible after their diagnosis. Early treatment is key to a good outcome.
As with other medications, antiretroviral drugs can cause side effects in some people. However, modern drugs tend to produce fewer and less severe side effects than older drugs.
Possible side effects of antiretroviral drugs include:
Some side effects may last for a few days or weeks after the person starts treatment. Others may start later or last longer.
If a person experiences severe side effects that make them consider stopping treatment, they can talk to their healthcare provider. Stopping treatment or skipping doses can lead to drug resistance and limit a persons treatment options.
Some people can reduce some side effects by taking the medication 2 hours before going to bed. Other people may prefer to take it in the morning to prevent sleep disturbances.
Certain HIV drugs may also lead to less obvious changes, such as:
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Timing Of Viral Entry Into The Brain
In the absence of technology for imaging the HIV reservoirs, extrapolations of viral entry into the central nervous system have been made by viral detection in the CSF. A recent study shows that HIV RNA could be detected in the CSF in 15 of 18 patients as early as 8 days after estimated HIV transmission. On average, the CSF HIV RNA level was 2.42 log copies/ml lower than that in plasma. There were no cases in which the CSF HIV RNA level exceeded that in plasma . However, the presence of virus in the CSF does not necessarily mean that it has established reservoir in the brain. In fact in some patients even at autopsy no evidence of any productive viral infection of other neuropathological changes could be found even in the preantiretroviral era. This situation suggests that timing of viral invasion into the brain may be variable and there might be a window of opportunity to clear the virus from the periphery before it enters the brain at least in some individuals.
Hiv Effects On The Skeletal System
People who have the virus tend to lose bone faster than people who donât. Your bones may get brittle and can break more easily. Your hips, especially, may hurt and feel weak.
Things that might cause this include the virus itself, the inflammation it causes, the medicines you take to treat HIV or related illnesses , and an unhealthy lifestyle. It might also be from a vitamin D deficiency, which is common in people who have HIV.
To help keep your bones in good shape:
- Make sure you get plenty of calcium and vitamin D.
- Exercise in ways that put weight on your bones, like walking or lifting weights.
- Don’t smoke, and limit how much alcohol you drink.
- Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D level.
Talk to your doctor about supplements or other medications to help your bones.
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Neurological Complications Of Hiv
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV weakens and slowly destroys the bodys immune system, leaving you vulnerable to life-threatening complications from an infection or certain cancers.
As HIV and AIDS battle your immune system, your central nervous system is also affected. HIV and AIDS both cause a number of neurological complications, particularly if HIV progresses to AIDS.
Today, antiretroviral medicineswhen taken correctly and promptlyhelp to slow down the progression of HIV. They also help to delay the onset of or to decrease the risk of progression to AIDS. Controlling HIV can also reduce your risk for neurological complications of HIV.
How Does The Immune System Work
The human immune system is one of the human body’s enduring mysteries scientists still do not completely understand how it works. It is an incredibly complex network of cells that identifies foreign invaders, kills them, and then remembers them in order to prevent future infections.
The immune system comprises three parts that work together to protect against disease:
- Physical barriers to germs for example, the skin
- The innate immune system, which is designed to attack and destroy any outside invader that gets into the bloodstream
- The acquired immune system, which has been trained to identify and kill particular invaders, either through previous experience or by a vaccine
Collectively, the cells of the immune system are known as white blood cells. These cells originate from the lymphatic system organs, which include the tonsils, lymph nodes and bone marrow. As far as scientists have determined, each cell plays a specific role in fighting disease.
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Prevention Of Hiv Infection
At present, there is no effective HIV vaccine to prevent HIV infection or slow the progression of AIDS in people who are already infected. However, treating people who have HIV infection reduces the risk of their transmitting the infection to other people.
Transmission of HIV through its most common routessexual contact or sharing of needlesis almost completely preventable. However, the measures required for preventionsexual abstinence or consistent condom use Prevention Sexually transmitted diseases are infections that are typically, but not exclusively, passed from person to person through sexual contact. Sexually transmitted diseases may be caused… read more and access to clean needlesare sometimes personally or socially unpopular. Many people have difficulty changing their addictive or sexual behaviors, so they continue to put themselves at risk of HIV infection. Also, safe sex practices are not foolproof. For example, condoms can leak or break.
Viral Evolution In The Brain
The effect of ART on evolution of HIV in the brain is not well understood. Since the penetration of antiretrovirals is restricted by the bloodbrain barrier, one might expect that antiretroviral-resistant sequences would be less frequent in the brain and hence these drugs might drive the compartmentalization of HIV in the brain. Combined ART puts evolutionary pressure on the virus such that it evolves from using co-receptor CCR5 to co-receptor CXCR4. This switch may appear later in the CNS compartment compared to the periphery . Further even in patients on antiretrovirals analysis of HIV-1 nef, gp120, and gp41 sequences showed maximal viral evolution within brain tissues of individuals with HAD compared with non-HAD cases .
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How A Weak Immune System Affects Your Skin
For some people with HIV, skin conditions are one of the most obvious signs of infection. Skin conditions can appear in the earliest stage of HIV, but may increase in frequency as the disease progresses.
HIV weakens your immune system, so your body is more likely to develop infection since it cant fight disease effectively. Common skin conditions that people with HIV experience include:
- Bacterial infections
- Inflammatory dermatitis
- Skin cancer
Inflammatory dermatitis can take many forms, and its common for people with HIV. Dermatitis can appear like areas of dry skin or red and itchy patches. Some examples of skin infections that people with HIV may contract include syphilis, oral thrush, and shingles.
Another condition that can develop if you have HIV is lipodystrophy. HIV can cause fat distribution in the body to change, resulting in fat loss around the face or fat buildup between the shoulder blades or elsewhere.
Taking antiretroviral medications for HIV generally helps reduce the number of skin conditions that people with HIV develop. Along with taking medication, getting regular skin exams and seeking treatment for specific skin conditions can help them from getting worse. For patients bothered by fat loss from HIV lipodystrophy, Sculptra® Aesthetic at Z-Roc Dermatology is an injectable filler to fill contours and improve your appearance.
Trust our team for all your skin care needs. Make an appointment at Z-Roc Dermatology online or call our office today.
What Does Hiv Do To The Immune System
The term HIV is often synonymously used with AIDS. However, it is important to understand the distinctions between these medical terms. Sadly, many people are quite unfamiliar with the symptoms of HIV, how HIV is transmitted, and the progression of HIV to AIDS. This lack of knowledge puts them at a high risk of HIV transmission.
First, lets explain what HIV is.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. HIV is transmitted from one person to another through bodily fluids such as semen, blood, or vaginal discharge. It is most commonly transmitted through unprotected sex, as well as with intravenous needles, blood contamination, or a pregnant mother living with HIV can pass the virus to a baby.
People can go many years without knowing that they have HIV. In fact, it is estimated that about 1 in 7 people are HIV positive but are unaware as they have never been tested. However, over ten years or so, their immune system will become extremely compromised until they develop AIDS unless they take HIV treatment drugs.
So, how does this happen and why does HIV attack the immune system? Lets dive in.
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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 Is Hiv Transmitted
HIV is transmitted from an infected person by body fluids such as blood, semen, breast milk, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids or other blood-containing secretions. Transmission occurs when these fluids come in contact with the various mucous membranes of the body, through cuts/openings of the skin, or directly injected into the bloodstream. As a result, anyone who is occupationally exposed to these body fluids risks contracting the disease. Preventive measures include wearing protective clothing, gowns, gloves, masks and goggles to control the spread of HIV among workers who may be at risk.
Unprotected sexual intercourse with infected people poses the single most important risk of infection. HIV can also be passed from one partner into the bloodstream of the other through tiny cuts or scratches.
Intravenous drug abusers may contract HIV if they share needles with infected people. Hemophiliacs requiring frequent transfusions or blood products are at risk due to the possibility of receiving contaminated blood. Since 1985, Canada’s Red Cross has been screening all blood donations for HIV antibodies.
If an individual is struck with a HIV-contaminated needle or sharp object can also pose an opportunity for transmission. Health care workers are at high risk for this type of exposure.
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When Is Drug Therapy Necessary
The decision to start ARVs should always be made in consultation with a doctor. There are various guidelines worldwide as to when to start therapy. A consistent CD4+ count that is recorded at below 350, is considered low and should be monitored on a regular basis. At levels of 200250, an individual is at serious risk of opportunistic infections and a doctor may also recommend that antibiotics be taken to prevent PJP . Therapy should definitely be initiated at any CD4+ count below 350.
In South Africa, in accordance with best practice around HIV treatment, ARV treatment begins from the moment a person tests positive for HIV.
Once therapy is started, the CD4+ count may start to rise, which could reflect an improvement in immune function and the bodys ability to fight infections. Once the CD4+ count rises above 350 and is maintained above this level, your body is better equipped to fight infections.
Regular monitoring of CD4+ count and a rise in viral load helps to determine whether ARV treatment is working. As long as the trend is upward or stable, then there is a positive indication of the effectiveness of the treatment. A consistent fall in CD4+ count may indicate that the treatment is becoming less effective. Importantly, any decision to change treatment should be taken in conjunction with a viral load test. Once therapy has started, it is normally recommended that CD4+ counts be done every 6 months .
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.
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