AIDS, an acronym for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, is a persistent, potentially life-threatening condition brought about by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The HIV disease interferes with the body’s immune system hence compromises its ability to fight the organisms that cause the disease.
- Sustiva and Viramune
- Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) – These are faulty versions of building blocks required by the HIV virus to make copies of itself. Examples include Abacavir and Truvada.
- Protease Inhibitors (PIs) – These prevent the HIV virus from entering the CD4 cells. Examples include Norvir and Reyataz
- Entry or Infusion Inhibitors – These inhibit the HIV virus from entering the CD4 cells as well. Examples include Maraviroc and Fuzeon
- Integrase Inhibitors – These work by disabling integrase, a protein that is used by HIV to insert genetic materials into the CD4 cells. Health care experts recommend that you start using anti-AIDS drugs immediately you become aware that you are infected with the HIV virus.
The symptoms associated with AIDS depend on the level of infection. If you notice that you have been infected with the HIV or you are potentially exposed the risk of contracting the disease, you should seek treatment as soon as you can. When treatment is sought early enough, it becomes easier to reduce the effects of the HIV. For primary infections the symptoms include
- Sore throat
- Joint pain
- Sweating at night
Early Symptomatic AIDS infection
- Weight loss
- Inability to breath
- Loss of appetite
Progressive AIDS symptoms
- Shaking at night
- Chronic diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
- Chronic white spots
- Abnormal lesions on the tongue
- Weight loss
- Skin rashes
- Irregular heartbeat
- Severe dizziness
- Loss of memory
- Lack of concentration
HIV, the virus that causes AIDS is sexually transmitted. The virus can be also spread by coming into contact with blood containing the virus or from mother to child during pregnancy, at childbirth or through the mother’s milk. It may take several years before the HIV totally makes the immune system weak to such a point that you have AIDS. The HIV continuously attacks the immune system cells. As this damage continues, the body generally becomes weak and is vulnerable to infections. In short, it is at the advanced stage of HIV infection that a person is said to have AIDS. HIV affects the CD4 cells, and a person is said to be HIV positive if their CD4 count is below 200.
HIV is typically diagnosed by conducting tests on blood or saliva antibodies for the virus. Note that it takes relatively long for the body to develop the antibodies. At times, it may take up to 6 months for an HIV test to become positive. Some of the HIV/AIDS diagnosis tests include:
- CD4 Count – A healthy person has a CD4 count varying from 500 to 1,000. However, if you are infected with HIV/AIDS, your CD4 count could be as low as 200.
- Viral Load – This test involves measuring the amount of virus in the blood
- Drug resistance – This test determines if you the kind of HIV strain you have will be resistant to anti-AIDS medications.
There is no known cure for AIDS. However, there are a number of drugs that can be used to control HIV and reduce its effects. Each group of drugs used to control HIV works by blocking the activities of the virus in a number of ways. For the best results, it is advisable that you use a combination of at least three drugs for different classes. This helps minimize the chances of creating strains of HIV that are immune to single drugs. You and your health care profession need to come up with a treatment regimen that suits your needs. Factors that determine your treatment plan include things such as the will and readiness to start therapy, the stage of infection and other health problems.