Benefits of Testing AIDS/ Reasons
You can get tested for HIV in a number of locations — including public clinics, AIDS organizations, physicians’ offices, and hospitals. Many locations give the test for free. You can choose between anonymous tests, in which you do not give your name to the HealthCare provider, or confidential tests, in which you do give your name. Test sites should provide trained counselors who can offer you support and guidance, no matter what the test result. (Balch-97)
An HIV test looks for the antibodies your immune system creates in response to the virus. These antibodies may not appear in your blood until three to six months after HIV infection. Therefore, a negative test for HIV does not necessarily mean you aren’t infected. That’s why if you are at risk for HIV infection you should get tested periodically in addition to practicing safer sex at all times.
If you test HIV-positive, you should have frequent blood tests to determine the levels of healthy T cells. These cell counts help indicate how quickly the infection is progressing and which course of treatment is best. The normal T-cell count is 800 to 1,300 cells per cubic millimeter of blood. In the first few months after HIV infection, T-cells may decrease to 400 to 650. As the infection progresses, T cells drop to the second level of 200 to 499. At this stage, you can expect to have late symptoms, although this too is variable. The most life-threatening AIDS illnesses happen when T-cell levels fall below 200.(Berkow-97)
Once HIV enters your body — through semen, vaginal secretions, blood, or human breast milk — it generally takes a month or two before creating symptoms, if any (not everyone has symptoms at this stage). These initial symptoms are similar to the flu and can last three to 14 days:
-Swollen lymph nodes (immune system organs
Within the several months following HIV infection, you may have repeated episodes of these flu-like symptoms. After that, an average period of five to seven years will pass without another sign of HIV infection — though that delay can range from a few months to more than 10 years. However, even when you don’t have symptoms, the virus is still multiplying in your body, and you can spread it to other people. (Tierney-98)
Later symptoms (months to years before the onset of AIDS)
-A pelvic inflammatory disease that does not
-Frequent and severe herpes infections causing mouth, genital or anal sores
At this stage, you may have other disorders resulting from HIV infection: severe dermatitis, personality changes, intellectual impairment, peripheral neuritis (inflammation of one or more peripheral nerves), pneumonia, myocarditis (inflammation of the middle muscular layer of the heart wall), nephritis (kidney inflammation), and arthritis. (Taylor-98)
As chronic HIV progresses, the immune system grows weaker and weaker until it can no longer prevent diseases and/or “opportunistic” infections those that would not usually happen in a person with a normal immune system). These include: Pneumonia caused by Pneumocystis carinii HIV infection of the brain (encephalitis with dementia) Toxoplasmosis of the brain (a protozoan infection) Cryptococcosis infection (a fungal infection) HIV wasting syndrome (chronically active HIV infection) Candida (yeast infections of the vagina, mouth, esophagus, trachea, bronchial tubes, or lungs) Kaposi’s sarcoma (a form of skin cancer) Tuberculosis and related infections Cryptosporidiosis infection of the intestine (a protozoan infection) Herpes simplex virus infections of mouth, esophagus, and lungs Lymphoma (a cancer of the immune system) Cytomegalovirus infections of the retina and other organs(HIV positive.com)
Conditions That May Be Mistaken for HIV and AIDS
HIV and AIDS may involve virtually every organ in the body. Therefore, many conditions can be mistaken for HIV/AIDS, including Cancer, especially lymphoma (causing malnutrition or weight loss) Senile dementia Gastrointestinal infection (especially parasitic) Colitis Inflammatory bowel disease Depression.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes AIDS. HIV not only attacks and destroys the white blood cells that are key to fighting infection (T4 or helper T cells), it actually uses the T cell’s genetic material to multiply itself. Eventually, HIV cripples the immune system, making the infected person vulnerable to multiple infections, diseases, and nervous system problems. One of the reasons AIDS is such a fatal disease is that HIV is an extremely resistant virus, mutating constantly to survive the immune system’s attacks.(San Fransisco Aids found.)
HIV is transmitted when the body fluid of an infected person enters the bloodstream of a person without HIV. Researchers have found the virus in Seamen, Blood, and even Human breast milk. The HIV virus has not been transmitted by Sweat, Tears, Mosquito bites or Saliva (center for disease control)
There are very rare cases of transmission among family members living together with no identifiable source of transmission. No one knows the cause of transmission in these few rare cases. (Gay men’s health crisis center)
Unprotected sex, Sharing of hypodermic needles for injection, drug use
From an HIV-infected mother to her baby, especially as the baby passes through the birth canal (the baby has a 25-30% chance of being HIV positive if not treated during pregnancy), Human breast milk
Accidental needle sticks, which are a risk among HealthCare workers (about a one in 300 chance), Blood transfusion and coagulation products (although this is very rare, with the modern blood-screening systems in use since 1985)(Bennet-96)
No one knows how to cure HIV or AIDS. However, there are many therapies, both conventional and alternative, that effectively prolong and enhance the quality of the lives of people with HIV and AIDS. The goals of treatment are to: Slow the replication rate of HIV Prevent and treat opportunistic infections Relieve symptoms and generally improve quality of life. (Noble-96)
If you have HIV/AIDS, the standard of care in the United States is to provide you conventional drug therapies, especially if your T-cell count has fallen below 500. You will take most HIV/AIDS drugs in combination, to most effectively reduce viral blood levels, increase helper T-cell counts, and decrease the AIDS death rate. Because combinations of HIV/AIDS drugs are as important as the individual drugs themselves, it is extremely important that you stick to your medication regimen:
Take drugs at exactly the prescribed times of day
For surveillance and routine management, you won’t need to stay in the hospital. Some more severe complications will require a hospital stay.
Anti-HIV drug therapy attacks HIV at various stages of its life cycle. Although the drugs have improved the side effects, including nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and abnormal body fat redistribution. (Hardman-96)
American Foundation for AIDS Research
120 Wall Street, Thirteenth Floor
New York, NY 10005
The Body — An AIDS and HIV Information Resource
Centers for Disease Control
National Prevention Information Network
P.O. Box 6003
Rockville, MD 20849
E-mail: [email protected]
Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation
2950 31st Street, Suite 125
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Email: [email protected]
Gay Men’s Health Crisis
119 West 24th Street, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10011
HIV Anonymous Testing & Counseling
Howard Brown Health Center
4025 N. Sheridan Road
Chicago, IL 60613
HIV Insite — Gateway to AIDS Knowledge
University of California, San Francisco
Centers for Disease Control National HIV/AIDS
San Francisco AIDS Foundation
P.O. Box 426182
San Francisco, CA 94142-6182
AIDS Hotline: 800-367-AIDS (2437) (toll-free in Calif.)
Phone: (415) 487-3000
Email: [email protected]
Balch, James F., and Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription
for Nutritional Healing Garden City Park, NY: Avery
Bennett, J. Claude, and Plum, Fred. Cecil Textbook
of Medicine, eds. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders,
Berkow, Robert. Merck Manual of Medical
Information, Home Edition. New Jersey: Merck
Research Laboratories, 1997.
Fauci, Anthony J. et. al. Harrison’s Principles of
Internal Medicine, eds. New York: McGraw-Hill,
Hardman, Joel G., and Limbird, Lee E. Goodman and
Gilman’s The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics
eds. New York: McGraw Hill, 1996.
Hurst, J. Willis. Medicine for the Practicing Physician
Stamford, CT: Appleton & Lange 1996.
Murray, Michael T. Encyclopedia of Natural
Medicine. Prima, 1998.
Noble, John. Primary Care Medicine ed. St. Louis:
Physicians’ Desk Reference. Montvale, NJ: Medical
Economics Co., 1998.
Rakel, Robert E. Conn’s Current Therapy eds.
Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1998.
Taylor, Robert B. Family Medicine: Principles and
Practice. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1998.
Tierney, LM, McPhee, SJ, and Papadakis, MA.
Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment eds.
Stamford, CT: Appleton & Lange, 1998.
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