Notes on AIDS and HIV

In 1981, scientists in the United States and France first recognized the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which was later discovered to be caused by a virus called the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). HIV breaks down the body’s immunity to infections leading to AIDS. The virus can lie hidden in the body for up to 10 years without producing any obvious symptoms or before developing into the AIDS disease, and in the meantime the person can unknowingly infect others. Currently, an estimated 40 million people worldwide are HIV carriers, and three million a year are dying of AIDS.

HIV lives in white blood cells and is present in the sexual fluids of humans. It’s difficult to catch and is spread mostly through sexual intercourse, by needle or syringe sharing among intravenous drug users, in blood transfusions, and during pregnancy and birth (if the mother is infected). Using another person’s razor blade or having your body pierced or tattooed are also risky, but the HIV virus cannot be transmitted by shaking hands, kissing, cuddling, fondling, sneezing, cooking food, or sharing eating or drinking utensils. One cannot be infected by saliva, sweat, tears, urine, or feces; toilet seats, telephones, swimming pools, or mosquito bites do not cause AIDS. Ostracizing a known AIDS victim is not only immoral but also absurd.

Most blood banks now screen their products for HIV, and you can protect yourself against dirty needles by only allowing an injection if you see the syringe taken out of a fresh unopened pack. The simplest safeguard during sex is the proper use of a latex condom. Unroll the condom onto the erect penis; while withdrawing after ejaculation, hold onto the condom as you come out. Never try to recycle a condom, and pack a supply with you, as it can be a nuisance trying to buy them on short notice.

HIV is spread more often through anal than vaginal sex, because the lining of the rectum is much weaker than that of the vagina, and ordinary condoms sometimes tear when used in anal sex. If you have anal sex, only use extra-strong condoms and special water-based lubricants, since oil, Vaseline, and cream weaken the rubber. During oral sex you must make sure you don’t get any semen or menstrual blood in your mouth. A woman runs 10 times the risk of contracting AIDS from a man than the other way around, and the threat is always greater when another sexually transmitted disease (STD) is present.

The very existence of AIDS calls for a basic change in human behavior. No vaccine or drug exists that can prevent or cure AIDS, and because the virus mutates frequently, no remedy may ever be totally effective. Other STDs such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis B, and herpes are far more common than AIDS and can lead to serious complications such as infertility, but at least they can usually be cured.

You should always practice safe sex to prevent AIDS and other STDs. You never know who is infected or even if you yourself have become infected. It’s important to bring the subject up before you start to make love. Make a joke out of it by pulling out a condom and asking your new partner, “Say, do you know what this is?” Or perhaps, “Your condom or mine?” Far from being unromantic or embarrassing, you’ll both feel more relaxed with the subject off your minds, and it’s much better than worrying afterwards if you might have been infected. The golden rule is safe sex or no sex.

An HIV infection can be detected through a blood test, because the antibodies created by the body to fight off the virus can be seen under a microscope. It takes at least three weeks for the antibodies to be produced and in some cases as long as six months before they can be picked up during a screening test. If you think you may have run a risk, you should discuss the appropriateness of a test with your doctor. It’s always better to know if you are infected so as to be able to avoid infecting others, to obtain early treatment of symptoms, and to make realistic plans. If you know someone with AIDS, you should give them all the support you can (there’s no danger in such contact unless blood is present).

AIDS/HIV Information

AIDS is an acronym for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome it causes a destruction of the immune system. It is the most advanced stage of the HIV virus (HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus). AIDS is defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the presence of a positive HIV antibody test and one or more of the illnesses known as opportunistic infections.

The HIV virus, type 1 or 2 is widely known to be the cause of AIDS. HIV breaks down and attacks your T cells so your body is unable to defend itself against different infections. The HIV virus also attacks your peripheral nervous system, this causes nerve and muscle pain, especially in the feet, legs, and hands.

HIV is spread through direct contact with semen or blood of an individual that is infected. This can be transferred in many ways the most common is unprotected sexual intercourse. Other means of infection are infected blood transfusions, mother to infant (at time of birth, or through breast milk), sharing needles with an infected person, and rarely a healthcare worker that gets pricked with an infected needle.

Often people who are infected with HIV have few symptoms and in some cases there are none. Other times, symptoms of HIV are confused with other illnesses such as the flu. This may be severe, with swollen glands in the neck and armpits, tiredness, fever and night sweats. This is where as much as 9 out of 10 of the infected individuals will develop AIDS. At this point the person may feel completely healthy and not even know that he/she has the virus. The next stage begins when the immune system starts to break down and the virus becomes more aggressive in damaging white cells. Several glands in the neck and armpits may swell and stay swollen for an extended period of time without any explanation. As this disease progresses boils or warts may spread over the body. They may also feel tremendously tired, night sweats, high fevers, chronic diarrhea, and they may lose a considerable amount of their body weight. Most cases have shown thrush as a symptom as well. At this point the person is in the final stages of HIV–AIDS. Severe chest infections with high fever are common and survival rate is above 70% but decrease with each recurrence.

A person is diagnosed with AIDS when he/she has one or more positive HIV screening and the presence of an AIDS defining condition. Some of the common conditions include but are not limited to: Meningitis, Encephalitis, Dementia, Pneumonia, Kaposi sarcoma, and Lymphoma. There is also a blood test called an Immune Profile that can be done. This test is used to measure the loss of immunity and help decide on the best treatment. There is a test that is rarely used due to its high cost, it is known as a Viral Load: This test detects the virus itself, and also measures the amount of HIV in the blood. It shows how quickly the HIV infection is likely to advance. A high viral load suggests that the person may progress rapidly to AIDS.

Although there is no cure for AIDS there are medical treatments that aide in prolonging, and maintaining the best quality of life possible. These include two nucleoside inhibitors, lamivudine and zidovudine. Actual treatment plans will vary with each patient, along with the physical aspect of this disease. The psychological side has to be addressed in order for a treatment plan to be effective.

The easiest way to escape contracting this disease is to avoid the risk factors that you are in control of. Such as: unprotected sex, not sharing a needle, and if you are in the healthcare field be sure to use all precautions necessary to avoid an accidental prick from a possible infected needle (remember that in this diseases early stages it is common for the person not to even know they are infected). Today AIDS is the fifth leading cause of death among all adults aged 25 to 44 in the United States. Among African-Americans in the 25 to 44 age group, AIDS is the leading cause of death for men and the second leading cause of death for women. Our society needs to become aware that by not protecting ourselves we are killing ourselves and that this has to stop.

New Treatments Available For Those With Aids

AIDS is a fatal illness that affects the immune system. It accounts for millions of deaths each year and is a serious worldwide epidemic. Over forty million people in the world are infected with AIDS. The immune system degenerates, making those infected susceptible to infection and disease. Over three million people died of this disease in 2005. There is no cure for AIDS but there are treatments available to help slow the progression. AIDS is researched throughout the world in order to discover new treatments to prolong life and to find a cure. Currently, there have been studies on two new drugs that show promising results.

Merck & Co., a drug manufacturer in New Jersey, conducted clinical trials on a new pill. It is to be taken orally twice per day to help slow the progression of the disease. Studies indicated this drug is performing better than the other medications currently on the market. This drug will be especially beneficial to long term AIDS sufferers who have developed a resistance to pharmaceuticals existing today.

The studies were performed on 167 patients who have shown progression of the disease and have critically impaired health. Many of these patients have taken the drug AZT, a common treatment, for more than ten years. In the clinical trials, varying doses of the drug were experimented on with patients with varying conditions. In the most successful group, seventy two percent of the patients showed an improvement with virus levels becoming undetectable. In the least successful group, virus levels were reduced to undetectable amounts in fifty six percent. The results of the clinical trial were surprising but welcomed. The effects were astounding and the drug manufacturer is hopeful that it will help prolong the lives of people with AIDS. They are continuing to conduct research in larger trials and hope to apply for approval from the Food and Drug Administration in 2007.

Gilead Sciences, a competing drug manufacturer, also showed positive results from a similar type drug. Although the clinical trials were much smaller then Merck’s, the company is hopeful the results will set the stage for larger trials. The drug is called an integrase inhibitor. Integrase is an enzyme that speeds the progression of HIV. The inhibitor blocks the enzyme, slowing this process. The initial trials were only conducted with only ten patients. However, after ten days there was a one hundred fold reduction in virus levels. Similar to the Merck study, this shows promise in helping to prolong the life of patients. This pill will be taken once per day in conjunction with Novir, another AIDS medication. Increased studies of this drug will begin in the spring of 2006.

Although AIDS is a world wide epidemic with no cure as of yet, continuing research is showing promise. Recent studies indicate there will soon be two new drugs available for treatment, both showing incredibly enhanced improvement from existing medications. As science advances, scientists are hopeful that they will one day find a cure for this disease, eradicating it from existence.

Africa AIDS Orphans

AIDS is an epidemic that has spread around the world at an amazing pace. It is believed that it started in Africa, and that continues to be the location where the highest number of cases are diagnosed. Due to a lack of education, social structure, and medical care a large number of people with AIDS in Africa die. Partners continue to have sexual intercourse without protection so it isn’t uncommon for children to lose both parents due to the disease.

There are more than 12 million children in Africa that have become orphaned due to AIDS killing their parents. This number is expected to increase by one million children each year. Most of these children are left to fend for themselves due to the poor economic status of Africa. Many of them die due to malnutrition, a lack of nurturing, and not getting the medical care they need.

As a result of these children being on their own, they don’t develop the social skills that they need. They also don’t end up with any type of education in most instances. This is why Africa continues to struggle to break out of their cycle of poverty. Those adults that are making an income often die from AIDS before they have children old enough to take over the work. This makes it very hard for these children to end up with any decent quality of life.

For many children, their parents may be so ill for such a long time before they die from the AIDS that they weren’t able to care for their children anyway. It can be very scary for children to watch their parents die and be helpless to prevent it from happening. Many of the older siblings also feel a sense of responsibility towards their younger brothers and sisters as well.

To add to the devastation, about two million of these children are believed to have AIDS themselves. They either were born with it due to their mother being positive or they contracted it during the course of breastfeeding. These children will be very ill and then die themselves. During the process though they often have no one to comfort or care for them.

Drugs For Treating Aids May Prevent People From Catching Aids

In one of the most promising developments in more than 20 years, scientists claim that drugs used to control HIV/AIDS in patients may also be effective in preventing the disease in the first place.

The drugs in question are tenofovir (Viread) and emtricitabine, or FTC (Emtriva), sold in combination as Truvada by Gilead Sciences Inc. Gilead is the California company best known for inventing Tamiflu.

Previous research has been aimed at finding a vaccine against HIV/AIDS, with the intention of conditioning the immune system against the disease. But these drugs work differently. They simply keep the virus from reproducing, and have already been used successfuly by health care workers to prevent them from being infected by the virus carried by patients.

This approach to fighting HIV/AIDS has been tempting researchers for many years, but has only recently become feasible as preventative drugs have been developed that are safe for non-infected persons to take. Previous drugs had unreasonable effects for uninfected persons.

That situation changed when Tenofovir came on the market in 2001. Tenofovir is powerful and safe, and it only has to be taken once a day. It also does not interact with other medicines or birth control pills, and manifests less drug resistance than other AIDS medications.

** Monkey studies show exciting results

A major study by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in Atlanta, Georgia involved six macaques. The monkeys were given a combination of Tenofovir and FTC and then administered a deadly combination of monkey and human AIDS viruses. They were given the viruses in rectal doses to simulate contact between gay men.

Each was given 14 weekly exposures of the virus, and none of the monkeys became infected. In a control group which did not receive the drugs, all but one got the disease, normally after just two exposures.

The scientists then stopped giving the drugs to the test group to see if the prevention was only temporary. The results were equally impressive. None of the monkeys contracted the disease. “We’re now four months following the animals with no drug, no virus. They’re uninfected and healthy,” reported a CDC researcher.

Now other research teams are pushing to have this drug combination tested on humans. A $29 million CDC study of drug users in Botswana will now be switched to this new drug combination.

Another study of 400 heterosexual women in Ghana by the Family Health Initiative, and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is studying the effects of tenofovir alone.

But several other studies have failed to materialize because studies of this nature immediately raise suspicions that scientists are using local people as guinea pigs. The fear is that they will intentionally expose the test subjects to the virus.

The cost of tenofovir and Truvada also make testing difficult. In African countries condoms are now liberally donated by companies, aid groups, UN agencies, and western governments. While the drugs are relatively cheap, the cost remains an impediment.

Nevertheless researchers have been reinvigorated by the stunning results out of Atlanta, and new tests are going ahead in pockets of interest around the world.

AIDS Education

AIDS: is now a commonly-used term for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome and also for HIV/AIDS; WHO uses the term to ΅°denote the entire health problem associate with HIV infection.΅±

American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR): was co-founded in 1985 by Dr. Mathilde Krim and by Dr. Michael Gottlieb. It remains an influential advocate for HIV/AIDS research and programs.

Anal sex: Sexual intercourse when the penis is inserted in the anus. Often used as a birth control measure by young adults.

Antibiotic: A substance that kills or inhibits the growth of organisms. Once considered a magic bullet, antibiotics are now commonly used to combat disease and infection. Indications are growing that many human viruses and bacteria are becoming resistant to current antibiotics.

Antibody: Members of a class of proteins known as immunoglobins. Antibodies may tag, destroy and neutralize bacteria, viruses or other harmful toxins. Antibodies attack infected cells, making them vulnerable to attack by other elements of the immune system.

Antigen: A foreign protein that causes an immune response (the production of antibodies to fight antigens). Common examples of antigens are the bacteria and viruses that cause human disease. The antibody is formed in response to a particular antigen unique to that antigen, reacting with no other

Walking the Walk for AIDS

UNAIDS estimates that more than 37 million adults and 2 million children are infected with HIV worldwide. The AIDS epidemic has hit the hardest in sub-Saharan Africa, where 75 percent of the women ages 15 to 24 are infected.

Closer to home, 40,000 people per year in the U.S. are infected, more than half of whom are African-American women. The latter group by itself accounts for 72 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in women.

In the face of these overwhelming statistics, what can be done? Some corporations are making a difference with contributions to charities supporting the cause and helping in other ways.

For example, Roche, a pharmaceutical company that developed the HIV protease inhibitors Invirase and Viracept, has not filed any patents for its medicines – including those for HIV/AIDS – in the least-developed nations and sub-Saharan Africa. This means that these countries, which are devastated by the epidemic, can manufacture and sell cheap, generic versions of the drugs without waiting for the patents to expire.

The company also is dedicated to increasing awareness of the illnesses.

“Roche is committed to driving social responsibility programs that increase awareness and combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic at the local and international level,” said George Abercrombie, president and CEO, Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., the U.S. pharmaceuticals headquarters of Roche.

Beyond this, Roche and its employees are working more directly to address the problem through the company’s annual Global Employee AIDS Walk in observance of World AIDS Day.

Roche employees have been participating in the walk for more than two years. In December 2005, more than 11,000 employees from 85 affiliates in 42 countries walked to raise funds for AIDS organizations. The money raised through their pledges was matched by the company.

Some of the funds are distributed to local HIV/AIDS organizations. In New Jersey, for example, funds will go to the NJ AIDS Partnership. The rest goes to children in Malawi, Africa, who have been orphaned by AIDS. The money goes to buy everything from food and clean water to shelter, books and sewing machines.

HIV is spread by sexual contact with an infected person, by sharing needles or syringes with someone who is infected or – less commonly – through transfusions of infected blood. Babies of HIV-infected women may become infected before or during birth or through breast feeding.

Anabolic Steroids Help People Suffering From HIV/AIDS

You are well aware of the specter of HIV/AIDS hovering all over the world. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) reports on HIV/AIDS, disclosed in January 2006, have articulated that AIDS has estimated killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized on June 5, 1981, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history.

Certainly, AIDS is now a pandemic, with an estimated 38.6 million people living with the disease worldwide. AIDS caused an estimated 2.4–3.3 million deaths, of which more than 570,000 were children in 2005. There are over 1 million people living with HIV or AIDS in the United States.
HIV/AIDS is chronic wasting disease. The suffering from HIV/AIDS can experience chronic wasting syndrome – a significant and unintentional weight loss. Often, physicians use anabolic steroids to help the people with chronic wasting syndrome – HIV/AIDS. There are a number of benefits of anabolic steroids when they are given to the HIV/AIDS patients.

The people suffering from chronic wasting syndrome (HIV/AIDS) experience substantial loss of body weight including both muscle and fat. Anabolic steroids do the job needed to counteract the effects of wasting. One of the natural effects of anabolic steroids on the HIV/AIDS patients is promotion of their cell growth and tissues. Anabolic steroids help to increase lean body mass, increase appetite, and increase strength of the HIV/AIDS patients. Thus, if used properly, anabolic steroids can help increase the re-growth of muscle tissues, and overall increase in lean body mass.

HIV/AIDS related chronic wasting may also cause Lipodystrophy, which is not necessarily weight loss disorder, rather it is a redistribution of fat in the body. Often fat is lost from the face, arms and legs, and it gets accumulated the back of the neck and around the abdomen. It can also lead to diabetes, hypertriglyceridemia and liver problems. However, anabolic steroids do not directly help treating lipodystrophy; they do help to reduce the fatty deposits caused by lipodystrophy.

Oxandrolone is one of the anabolic steroids that have been approved by the FDA to help counteract AIDS-related chronic wasting. Currently, it may not be a mainstream treatment because studies have revealed that the most effective dosages for AIDS-related chronic wasting are higher than the FDA approved dosages, but the drug started showing great benefits to its users