23 August 2012

Signs and Symptoms of Late Stages of HIV

HIV and Its Progression
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the term used to describe a retrovirus that infects cells of the immune system, destroying or impairing their function. HIV is known to be a progressive disease that debilitates the immune system and eventually results in the diagnosis of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). As HIV progresses to AIDS, it could cause the occurrence of at least 20 known related illnesses that result from the compromised health of the immune system.

Initial Stage Acute Retroviral Syndrome (ARS)
This is the period of rapid HIV replication in the body that occurs two to four weeks after contracting HIV. As HIV levels in the blood increase, it results in acute HIV infection which is characterized by a drop in CD4 cell counts. CD4, alternately called T-4 cells send signals to activate the disease combating immune response that wards off sickness. In a HIV infected person the CD4 count falls to under 200 making the sufferer vulnerable to a host of infections and cancers. Many individuals experience flu-like symptoms during this period of infection. These symptoms can include fever, inflamed lymph nodes, chills, sore throat, rash and muscular aches. These symptoms may last from a few days to 4 weeks and then go away. Those that experience these symptoms often liken their suffering to 'the worst possible flu' which is what medical experts call Acute Retroviral Syndrome (ARS). It is also called Primary HIV Infection.

Chronic HIV Infection
During this phase, unlike in the initial ARS stage, HIV reproduces at very low levels, although it is still active. The estimated sufferers of HIV who are unaware of being carriers of the deadly HIV virus are likely to be so in part due to the characteristics at this stage of the disease. A HIV-positive individual can have an undetectable viral load and a healthy CD4 cell count without the use of medication through earlier years of this phase.

Though this phase may last upto even 8 years, one may not have symptoms or opportunistic infections. Towards the middle and end of this stage, the onset of constitutional symptoms of the HIV virus affecting the entire body such as fatigue, weight loss, fevers, night sweats and muscular aches can be seen. Recurring outbreaks of cold sores, mouth sores, genital herpes and diarrhea can also be suspected symptoms of HIV.

In women, abnormal pap tests, persistent yeast infections and cervical cancer can also be symptoms of presence of HIV virus in the body.

Late Stage of Hiv
An HIV-infected person may not develop the late stage commonly referred to as AIDS until 8 to 10 years after being infected. Normal CD4 counts in a healthy individual range between 500 and 1,600 cells per cubic millimeter of blood. As HIV progresses to AIDS, CD4 count falls to under 200 cells. As AIDS occurs, a collection of opportunistic infections that are usually severe, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis or cancers are seen.

HIV virus has no known cure. But with early treatment and strict adherence to medication regimen, many individuals continue to live active lives for several healthy years.

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07 August 2012

HIV Cure New Researches

There has been much discussion in the HIV research community about the ways to find a cure for the disease. While current medical technology has been effective at keeping the virus suppressed temporarily, stopping antiretroviral therapy (ART), for example, just creates the perfect environment for the remaining virus to proliferate. These HIV reservoirs, as they're called, are seen as the last hiding places for HIV in the body, and the key to finding a functional cure lies within them. It seems that a sterilizing cure will remain elusive for the time being, however. Let's discuss four of the approaches being tested to find a functional cure for HIV.

The first is intensifying the treatment on the residual virus within the body-the HIV reservoirs. However, a couple of recent studies showed that there was no discernible benefit for doing so, since there was no noticeable decline in the quantity of residual HIV remaining in the body. Early treatment is another option. In this approach, treatment is started as soon as a person is diagnosed as HIV positive. Several studies have indicated that the number of infected cells is lower when early treatment is initiated rather than further along in the process of chronic infection.

The elimination of infected T cells is one of the most interesting approaches, mainly because it deals with one of the HIV reservoir sources. Latently infected cells are dormant; that is, they're "turned off," and antiretroviral drugs won't be able to detect these cells. In order to eliminate these infected cells, they're treated with drugs designed to turn the cells "on," and make them detectable to antiretroviral drugs. The thought process behind this is to make more cells active, which thereby reduces the number of HIV reservoirs in the body, which subsequently reduces the viral load to a level that the immune system can eventually suppress on its own without the help of ART-in effect, a functional HIV cure.

Zinc finger nucleases are another approach being thought of. Treating uninfected cells with genetic modification to make them resistant to HIV infection is a major step. The idea comes from a very rare anomaly that less than 2% of the world's population has-a genetic defect that makes interferes with the CCR5 receptor, the main point of entry for HIV into the cells. This defect makes it very difficult for HIV to enter cells. Mimicking this genetic defect can make the body resistant to HIV infection in general, which could lay the ground work for finding not only a functional cure, but a vaccine to give to non-infected people as well.

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