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AIDS

Most people recognize that the HIV virus and AIDS is the most devastating disease of our generation. To date, there is an estimated 33 million people now living with the disease worldwide. AIDS was first recognized June 5th, 1981, and since then an estimated 25 million people have died as a result of being infected. It is believed that the AIDS virus originated in the Southern region of Africa, below the Saharan desert. One third of the AIDS infected population resides in the area.

Extensive research has been done to find the origin of the HIV virus. We know that other common animals like the cow, cat, and horse can carry similar viruses. It is difficult to pinpoint the origin because the HIV virus has different strands. However, scientists have been able to make a strong connection between the HIV-2 virus and a similar strand found in the green monkey, which resides in South Africa. More recent discoveries indicate the HIV-1 virus has a link to the chimpanzee.

AIDS is a disease that is caused by a virus called HIV, which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. When someone contracts this highly infectious virus they are considered HIV positive. In the more advanced stages, when the virus takes over the human body, the person has AIDS. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

The HIV virus can be contracted through contact with bodily fluids such as blood, vaginal fluid, semen, and breast milk. The most common ways of infection are:

  • Having sex with an infected person.
  • Sharing hypodermic needles with an infected person.
  • Giving birth to or breastfeeding a baby while being infected.

As the name implies the human version of this virus affects the immune system. The virus is able to attach itself to certain cells of the immune system and the central nervous system. Once it attaches itself it can change its structure in order to enter these cells. The most common receptor cell is the T helper cells, very significant immune cells. The HIV virus can not multiple on its own, it uses the natural replication process of the immune system to produce more of the HIV virus. Once the lymphocyte cell has replicated the virus it is destroyed. In essence, the immune system of an infected person destroys itself.

4 Stages from HIV to AIDS

The HIV virus is a lentivirus which is in the same family as a retrovirus. Lentivirus, refers to the slow progress of the HIV virus to full blown AIDS. On average the time that the HIV virus takes to progress into AIDS is 10 years. There are four stages that describe the life cycle and progression of HIV.

  • Primary Infection
  • Clinically Asymptomatic Stage
  • Symptomatic HIV infection
  • Progression from HIV to AIDS

Phase 1 – Primary Infection lasts a few weeks. Once the virus enters the body, the immune system responds to the invader. During this time the infected person will have general flu-like symptoms that can easily be mistaken for the ‘common cold’. Even if a HIV antibody test is done during this time, the odds are that the test will come back negative. It would be rare that the flu-like symptoms would give cause to seek medical attention for the HIV virus.

Phase 2 – The Clinically Asymptomatic Stage last on average up to 10 years. Typically, there are no symptoms. However, on occasion an infected person may have swollen lymph nodes. This is the time the HIV virus begins the process of coupling with specific cells of the immune system and central nervous system. These cells have certain receptors that will accept the virus. Once the virus connects with these receptor cells it can use the cell to replicate. The infected person is highly contagious during this time; blood tests will show positive results for the HIV antibodies.

Phase 3 – The Symptomatic HIV Infection stage begins towards the end of the Clinically Asymptomatic Stage. As the virus takes over more and more cells the immune system dies off. This leaves the human body extremely vulnerable to ‘opportunistic diseases’. The immune system is unable to keep up with new invaders that are taking advantage of its weakened state. In its normal healthy state, the immune system would be able to fight off these diseases. However, as the health of the immune system fades, the symptoms of these ‘opportunistic diseases’ strengthen. The areas that are affected by disease are the; respiratory, central nervous system, skin, and gastro-intestinal.

Phase 4 – The Progression from HIV to AIDS results in the development of the ‘opportunistic diseases’. If an infected person develops two or more severe diseases and the immune cell counts are low, they will be diagnosed with AIDS.

Treatment

To date, there is no cure for HIV or AIDS. Treatment consists of a combination of antiviral drugs. The rate of HIV replication greatly decreases when a combination of three or more antiviral drugs is taken consistently. Treatment has identified that the HIV replication process can replicate different strains of the virus. Combination therapy is needed to counteract the different HIV strains.

If the person has developed symptoms from other diseases and illnesses they will receive treatment for these as well. In other areas that do not have access to combination antiviral therapy, they will only have treatment for the ‘opportunistic diseases’. This typically will only ease the transition from HIV positive to AIDS, without reducing the HIV replication process.

While these two types of drug therapy can help from a medical standpoint, they leave out the human element. There are other factors to consider in the treatment of an HIV positive person.

  • Nutrition and nutrient deficiency
  • Exercise
  • Stress Management
  • Emotional/Spiritual support and counseling
  • Prevention

Medical support and supervision is vital in the treatment of HIV and AIDS. With this in mind, natural approaches should also be considered. During the beginning stages, supplying your body with immune enhancing nutrients can be beneficial. After all, your immune system is powered by vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. When a nutrient deficiency occurs the body has to work under weakened circumstances. In HIV positive people, the body is already spending all its nutrient and energy supplies to combat the invading viruses. Replacing these nutrients can boost depletion levels and aid the immune system.

Antioxidants are important in balancing the oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Antioxidants have anti-viral qualities that can decrease the rate of viral replication. People with the HIV virus show low levels of antioxidants like; Vitamin E, A, C, and Selenium. When these and other antioxidants are low, the virus damage can accelerate.

Eating healthy can help replace nutrients. For those that are taking anti-viral therapy the benefits improve with a healthy diet as opposed to an unhealthy diet.

Exercise and Stress Management are important as they can decrease the oxidative stress caused by chronic stress and emotional instability. Exercise has been proven to have anti-depressant, anti-anxiety qualities and can boost the immune system. Keep in mind that for those that are infected, a non-strenuous calming activity is better than an energy depleting one. Some good examples would be; stretching, walking, and Tai Chi.

Proactively seek a stress management plan like an online Stress Solution Tool (SST). Stress has numerous deleterious effects including increasing susceptibility to illness, depleting antioxidant levels while promoting free radical damage, and contributing to fatigue and lack of mental focus. Addressing stress is critical if you are serious about creating a strong health foundation for longevity, wellness, and improved quality of life. The SST was created to help you in discovering hidden and unrealized areas of stress that may be robbing your health and quality of life. The SST report will also provide you with suggestions and a way of formulating your stress management plan.

Counseling for people living with the infection is important for decreasing the risk of spreading to those you love and care for. Sexual counseling can help with understanding the importance of spreading the virus through sexual encounters. The use of a condom with a well-informed partner, having sex with only 1 partner, and voluntary abstinence are crucial options in prevention. Other valid reasons for supportive counseling may be; spiritual, emotional acceptance, nutrition, mothers-to-be, and family support.

While you are taking care of yourself, make sure you are taking care of those that you may come in contact with.

  • Properly contain cuts and lacerations.
  • Inform sexual partners of your condition.
  • Use condoms.
  • Avoid using intravenous recreational drugs.
  • Avoid sharing hygienic products; i.e. toothbrush, razors, toothpicks, etc…

Summary

HIV virus is known to progress into a more severe stage known as AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. The HIV virus is believed to have been transmitted to humans from the Chimpanzee and Green Monkey. Once a human becomes infected the virus progresses over an average of ten years to replicate and destroy the immune system. Once the immune system progressively weakens, other invading illnesses and diseases, called “opportunistic illnesses”, begin to manifest symptoms. Typically, treatment consists of anti-viral drug therapy and treatment for the opportunistic illnesses. Once an HIV positive person develops two or more severe diseases with advanced symptoms and very low immune cell counts, they are diagnosed with full-blown AIDS. Treatment and prevention can slow the HIV replication process. Eating healthy foods, staying hydrated, managing stress, taking antioxidants and replacing diminished nutrients can greatly benefit from beginning stages to advanced stages.

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Improve Posture

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