Friday, April 29, 2016

Physical Changes To Your Body by HIV

As HIV disease progresses in your body, you may notice physical changes. Some changes may occur as side-effects of medical treatment for HIV. Others may occur as a result of the impact that HIV (or AIDS) has on your body.

BODY FAT CHANGES
Some medications you may take to control HIV cause changes in the way your body produces, uses, and stores fat. These changes are called lipodystrophy. This condition causes you to gain or lose fat in particular parts of your body.

You can get extra fat in the following places:

Abdomen
Neck
Breasts (both men and women)
Face

In addition, you can also develop small deposits of fat, called lipomas, elsewhere on your body.
Other changes can occur when the fat under your skin (called subcutaneous fat) is lost. This can occur in your:

Face
Arms
Legs
Buttocks

It is important to note that these changes in the way your body handles fat can also coincide with changes in cholesterol, an increase in triglycerides, increases in blood sugar, and lowered sensitivity to insulin, which may lead to diabetes.


WASTING SYNDROME
Wasting syndrome is the involuntary loss of more than 10% of your body weight, in addition to more than 30 days of either diarrhea or weakness and fever. Wasting refers to a loss of muscle mass, although part of the weight loss may also be due to loss of fat. HIV-associated wasting syndrome is considered an AIDS-defining condition.

While this is often a sign of late stage disease, wasting syndrome can be treated by:
Proper diet
Medications to stimulate appetite
Medications to control diarrhea
Hormonal therapy to build muscle

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Health Benefits of Apple

The apple tree is a deciduous tree in the rose family best known for its sweet, pomaceous fruit, the apple. It is cultivated worldwide as a fruit tree, and is the most widely grown species in the genus Malus. The tree originated in Central Asia, where its wild ancestor, Malus sieversii, is still found today. Apples have been grown for thousands of years in Asia and Europe, and were brought to North America by European colonists. Apples have religious and mythological significance in many cultures, including Norse, Greek and European Christian traditions.

Apple trees are large if grown from seed, but small if grafted onto roots (rootstock). There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples, resulting in a range of desired characteristics. Different cultivars are bred for various tastes and uses, including cooking, eating raw and cider production. Apples are generally propagated by grafting, although wild apples grow readily from seed. Trees and fruit are prone to a number of fungal, bacterial and pest problems, which can be controlled by a number of organic and non-organic means. In 2010, the fruit's genome was decoded as part of research on disease control and selective breeding in apple production.

About 80 million tons of apples were grown worldwide in 2013, and China produced almost half of this total.The United States is the second-leading producer, with more than 6% of world production. Turkey is third, followed by Italy, India and Poland. Apples are often eaten raw, but can also be found in many prepared foods (especially desserts) and drinks. Many beneficial health effects are thought to result from eating apples; however, two types of allergies are attributed to various proteins found in the fruit.

Health Benefits of Apple

Apples are the second most popular fruit in the US (bananas are the first),1 with each American eating about 19 pounds a year. 

Undoubtedly, many of those apples are consumed right now, during the fall, which is peak season for apples in the US. This is one sweet treat that you can feel good about eating, too, as apples are packed with disease-fighting vitamins, antioxidants and more, easily making them one of the top-ranked fruits for your health

Apples Ranked Second Highest for Antioxidant Activity

Compared to other commonly consumed fruits in the US, apples ranked second for highest antioxidant activity. However, they ranked highest for the proportion of free phenolic compounds, which means they are not bound to other compounds in the fruit and therefore may be more easily absorbed into your bloodstream.

Notably, much of apples' antioxidant power is contained in the peel, where you'll find antioxidants like catechin, procyanidins, chlorogenic acid, ploridizin and more.



Apples are filled with soluble fiber  (5 grams)

This fiber has been shown to reduce intestinal disorders, including diverticulitis, hemorrhoids and possibly some types of cancer.
Helps control insulin levels by releasing sugar slowly into the bloodstream.
Cleanses and detoxifies, which helps eliminate heavy metals, such as lead and mercury.


According to Chinese Medicine: Apples strengthen the heart, quench thirst, lubricate the lungs, decrease mucous and increase body fluids.



An Apple a Day to Keep 5 Chronic Diseases Away?

A wealth of research suggests that eating apples may impact your health in a number of beneficial ways:

Brain Health: Apples have been found to protect neuron cells against oxidative stress-induced neurotoxicity and may play an important role in reducing the risk of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease.

Stroke: Eating apples is linked to a decreased risk of stroke.

Diabetes: Three servings of apples (and other fruits, such as blueberries and grapes) is linked to a 7 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

This may be due to their beneficial role in blood sugar regulation, as apples contain compounds that may:

Lessen absorption of glucose from your digestive tract
Stimulate beta cells in your pancreas to secrete insulin
Increase uptake of glucose from your blood by stimulating insulin receptors

Cancer: Apples have a number of properties that may help reduce the risk of cancer, including antimutagenic activity, antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory mechanisms, antiproliferative and apoptosis-inducing activity, as well as "novel mechanisms on epigenetic events and innate immunity." According to the journal Planta Medica.

"Apple products have been shown to prevent skin, mammary and colon carcinogenesis in animal models. Epidemiological observations indicate that regular consumption of one or more apples a day may reduce the risk for lung and colon cancer."

Heart Disease: Eating apples is associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease, an association that's thought to be related to their content of antioxidant flavonoids.

An apple has only 50-80 calories and has no fat or sodium

Apples provide a source of potassium which may promote heart health

What Hiv Does In Your Body

Without treatment, HIV advances in stages, overwhelming your immune system and getting worse over time. The three stages of HIV infection are: (1) acute HIV infection, (2) clinical latency, and (3) AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

However, there’s good news: by using HIV medicines (called antiretroviral therapy or ART) consistently, you can prevent HIV from progressing to AIDS. ART helps control the virus so that you can live a longer, healthier life and reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others.
These are the three stages of HIV infection:

ACUTE HIV INFECTION STAGE
Within 2-4 weeks after HIV infection, many, but not all, people develop flu-like symptoms, often described as “the worst flu ever.” Symptoms can include fever, swollen glands, sore throat, rash, muscle and joint aches and pains, and headache. This is called “acute retroviral syndrome” (ARS) or “primary HIV infection,” and it’s the body’s natural response to the HIV infection.

During this early period of infection, large amounts of virus are being produced in your body. The virus uses CD4 count to replicate and destroys them in the process. Because of this, your CD4 cells can fall rapidly. Eventually your immune response will begin to bring the level of virus in your body back down to a level called a viral set point, which is a relatively stable level of virus in your body. At this point, your CD4 count begins to increase, but it may not return to pre-infection levels. It may be particularly beneficial to your health to begin ART during this stage.

During the acute HIV infection stage, you are at high risk of transmitting HIV to your sexual or drug using partners because the levels of HIV in your blood stream are very high. For this reason, it is very important to take steps to reduce your risk of transmission.

CLINICAL LATENCY STAGE
After the acute stage of HIV infection, the disease moves into a stage called the “clinical latency” stage. “Latency” means a period where a virus is living or developing in a person without producing symptoms. During the clinical latency stage, people who are infected with HIV experience no symptoms, or only mild ones. (This stage is sometimes called “asymptomatic HIV infection” or “chronic HIV infection.”)

During the clinical latency stage, the HIV virus continues to reproduce at very low levels, although it is still active. If you take ART, you may live with clinical latency for several decades because treatment helps keep the virus in check. (Read more about HIV treatment.) For people who are not on ART, the clinical latency stage lasts an average of 10 years, but some people may progress through this stage faster.

People in this symptom-free stage are still able to transmit HIV to others, even if they are on ART, although ART greatly reduces the risk of transmission.
If you have HIV and you are not on ART, then eventually your viral load will begin to rise and your CD4 count will begin to decline. As this happens, you may begin to have constitutional symptoms of HIV as the virus levels increase in your body.


AIDS
This is the stage of HIV infection that occurs when your immune system is badly damaged and you become vulnerable to opportunistic infections. When the number of your CD4 cells falls below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood (200 cells/mm3), you are considered to have progressed to AIDS. (In someone with a healthy immune system, CD4 counts are between 500 and 1,600 cells/mm3.) You are also considered to have progressed to AIDS if you develop one or more opportunistic illnesses, regardless of your CD4 count.

Without treatment, people who progress to AIDS typically survive about 3 years. Once you have a dangerous opportunistic illness, life-expectancy without treatment falls to about 1 year. However, if you are taking ART and maintain a low viral load, then you may enjoy a near normal life span. You will most likely never progress to AIDS. 

FACTORS AFFECTING DISEASE PROGRESSION
People living with HIV may progress through these stages at different rates, depending on a variety of factors, including their genetic makeup, how healthy they were before they were infected, how soon after infection they are diagnosed and linked to care and treatment, whether they see their healthcare provider regularly and take their HIV medications as directed, and different health-related choices they make, such as decisions to eat a healthful diet, exercise, and not smoke.


Time Between HIV Infection and AIDS

Factors that may shorten the time between HIV and AIDS:

Older age
HIV subtype
Co-infection with other viruses (like tuberculosis or hepatitis C)
Poor nutrition
Severe stress
Your genetic background


Factors that may delay the time between HIV and AIDS:

Taking antiretroviral therapy consistently
Staying in regular HIV care
Closely adhering to your doctor’s recommendations
Eating healthful foods
Taking care of yourself
Your genetic background
By making healthy choices, you have some control over the progression of HIV infection.

Not everyone is diagnosed early. Some people are diagnosed with HIV and AIDS concurrently, meaning that they have been living with HIV for a long time and the virus has already done damage to their body by the time they find out they are infected. These individuals need to seek a healthcare provider immediately and be linked to care so that they can stay as healthy as possible, as long as possible. Use the HIV Testing and Services Locator to find an HIV provider near you.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

What Does HIV Positive Mean?

Being diagnosed as "HIV-positive" means that you have been exposed to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)and that two HIV tests—a preliminary enzyme immunoassay (EIA) test and a confirmatory Western blot test—have both come back positive for antibodies to HIV.

Being HIV-positive means that it is possible for you to pass the virus along to others, including your sexual partners. If you are female, you could also pass it along to your unborn child.

Once you have been infected with HIV, you will always carry it in your body. There is no cure for HIV. It is a serious, infectious disease that can lead to death if it isn't treated.

But many scientific and technological advances have made HIV a chronic manageable disease. Many people with HIV lead healthy, happy, and productive lives and learn how to cope with the disease.

This is why it is so important to know your HIV status. Knowing that you are HIV-positive gives you the ability to protect your own health and the health of your partners and children.

Being HIV-positive does NOT mean you have AIDS. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV disease. Proper treatment can keep you from developing AIDS.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Where Did HIV Come From

There are a few different ideas that have been put forward to explain how HIV came about. The two thrown around most, by far, are: “The government did it,” or “It was definitely people having sex with monkeys!”

There are lots of conspiracy theories surrounding HIV; some people do not believe it causes AIDS at all, and others believe that HIV is a man-made virus.

HIV-1 from chimpanzees and gorillas to humans
Scientists generally accept that the known strains (or groups) of HIV-1 are most closely related to the simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) endemic in wild ape populations of West Central African forests. Particularly, each of the known HIV-1 strains is either closely related to the SIV that infects the chimpanzee subspecies Pan troglodytes troglodytes (SIVcpz) or closely related to the SIV that infects western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), called SIVgor. The pandemic HIV-1 strain (group M or Main) and a very rare strain only found in a few Cameroonian people (group N) are clearly derived from SIVcpz strains endemic in Pan troglodytes troglodytes chimpanzee populations living in Cameroon. Another very rare HIV-1 strain (group P) is clearly derived from SIVgor strains of Cameroon. Finally, the primate ancestor of HIV-1 group O, a strain infecting 100,000 people mostly from Cameroon but also from neighboring countries, has been recently confirmed to be SIVgor.[6] The pandemic HIV-1 group M is most closely related to the SIVcpz collected from the southeastern rain forests of Cameroon (modern East Province) near the Sangha River. Thus, this region is presumably where the virus was first transmitted from chimpanzees to humans. However, reviews of the epidemiological evidence of early HIV-1 infection in stored blood samples, and of old cases of AIDS in Central Africa have led many scientists to believe that HIV-1 group M early human center was probably not in Cameroon, but rather farther south in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, more probably in its capital city, Kinshasa (formerly LĂ©opoldville).

Using HIV-1 sequences preserved in human biological samples along with estimates of viral mutation rates, scientists calculate that the jump from chimpanzee to human probably happened during the late 19th or early 20th century, a time of rapid urbanisation and colonisation in equatorial Africa. Exactly when the zoonosis occurred is not known. Some molecular dating studies suggest that HIV-1 group M had its most recent common ancestor (MRCA) (that is, started to spread in the human population) in the early 20th century, probably between 1915 and 1941. A study published in 2008, analyzing viral sequences recovered from a recently discovered biopsy made in Kinshasa, in 1960, along with previously known sequences, suggested a common ancestor between 1873 and 1933 (with central estimates varying between 1902 and 1921). Genetic recombination had earlier been thought to "seriously confound" such phylogenetic analysis, but later "work has suggested that recombination is not likely to systematically bias", although recombination is "expected to increase variance".The results of a 2008 phylogenetics study support the later work and indicate that HIV evolves "fairly reliably". Further research was hindered due to the primates being critically endangered. Sample analyses resulted in little data due to the rarity of experimental material. The researchers, however, were able to hypothesize a phylogeny from the gathered data. They were also able to use the molecular clock of a specific strain of HIV to determine the initial date of transmission, which is estimated to be around 1915-1931.

HIV-2 from sooty mangabeys to humans
Similar research has been undertaken with SIV strains collected from several wild sooty mangabey (Cercocebus atys atys) (SIVsmm) populations of the West African nations of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ivory Coast. The resulting phylogenetic analyses show that the viruses most closely related to the two strains of HIV-2 that spread considerably in humans (HIV-2 groups A and B) are the SIVsmm found in the sooty mangabeys of the Tai forest, in western Ivory Coast.

There are six additional known HIV-2 groups, each having been found in just one person. They all seem to derive from independent transmissions from sooty mangabeys to humans. Groups C and D have been found in two people from Liberia, groups E and F have been discovered in two people from Sierra Leone, and groups G and H have been detected in two people from the Ivory Coast. These HIV-2 strains are probably dead-end infections, and each of them is most closely related to SIVsmm strains from sooty mangabeys living in the same country where the human infection was found.

Molecular dating studies suggest that both the epidemic groups (A and B) started to spread among humans between 1905 and 1961 (with the central estimates varying between 1932 and 1945).

Monday, April 11, 2016

HIV AIDS Treatments Prevention Management

Yes, today HIV is a manageable disease. HIV medications have significantly changed the course of HIV infection since the early days of the epidemic and with the proper care and treatment, you can live a healthy life.

The sooner you take steps to protect your health, the better. Early treatment with antiretroviral drugs and a healthy lifestyle can help you stay well. Prompt medical care prevents the onset of AIDS and some life-threatening AIDS-related conditions.

To view the personal stories of others who have been diagnosed with HIV and learn how they managed their infection and got the virus under control with medication, visit AIDS.gov’s Positive Spin.


The most significant change that has taken place in HIV prevention and in the thinking and strategies of many public health workers and prevention advocates since the last edition of Preventing HIV is a much greater emphasis on the role of HIV treatment as a method of HIV prevention. A few advocates feel that we may not even need new treatments (like vaccines) and new approaches (like pre-exposure prophylaxis) to significantly reduce HIV transmission, but may simply need to step up what we are already doing, namely treating people who have HIV. This is a minority view, but, encouraged by new evidence of the efficacy of HIV treatment as prevention, many experts and advocates now believe that the provision of ARVs may be one of the most important elements of any strategy to end the HIV epidemic. At the very least it provides another powerful reason to expand access to treatment.

While AIDS remains incurable, patients are living much longer – even decades after infection – because of the development of many effective medications to suppress the virus. The most effective type are known as antiretroviral drugs, which are often taken in combination to prevent the patient from becoming resistant to any one drug.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the most common antiretroviral drugs fall into three categories:

Reverse transcriptase inhibitors, which keep the virus from reproducing
Protease inhibitors, which interfere with an HIV protein that produces infectious particles
Fusion inhibitors, which prevent the virus from entering healthy cells
Doctors verify if medications are working through blood tests, which measure levels of various infection-fighting blood cells as well as the level of HIV in the blood. Even when the virus is undetectable, AIDS is not cured and can still be transmitted to others.

Other HIV/AIDS treatment focuses around living a healthy lifestyle with optimum nutrition, sleep and exercise. Regular doctor’s visits are also scheduled, with frequency depending on viral levels in the blood and what symptoms are present, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.




Prevention

More than 56,000 Americans become infected with HIV each year, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While some AIDS patients have been infected through blood transfusions during medical procedures, preventing infection usually depends on avoiding risky habits or behaviors that lead to exposure to the virus, which can be transmitted through blood, bodily fluids such as semen and infected needles.

Prevention measures include:

Knowing yours and your partners’ HIV status
Using latex condoms correctly during every sexual encounter, whether gay or straight
Limiting the number of sexual partners
Abstaining from injectable drug use
Seeking medical treatment immediately after suspected HIV exposure, since medications can sometimes prevent infection if started early
It’s just as important to know the ways HIV cannot be spread, such as by:

Saliva, tears or sweat
Water or air
Casual contact such as closed-mouth kissing or shaking hands
Insects, including mosquitoes



The advent in 1996 of potent combination antiretroviral therapy (ART), sometimes called HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) or ART (effective combination antiretroviral therapy), changed the course of the HIV epidemic.1 These “cocktails” of three or more antiretroviral drugs used in combination gave patients and scientists new hope for fighting the epidemic,2 and have significantly improved life expectancy—to decades rather than months.1,3

For many years, scientists believed that treating HIV-infected persons also significantly reduced their risk of transmitting the infection to sexual and drug-using partners who did not have the virus. The circumstantial evidence was substantial, but no one had conducted a randomized clinical trial— the gold standard for proving an intervention works. That changed in 2011 with the publication of findings from the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052 study, a randomized clinical trial designed in part to evaluate whether the early initiation of ART can prevent the sexual transmission of HIV among heterosexual couples in which one partner is HIV-infected and the other is not. This landmark study validated that early HIV treatment has a profound prevention benefit: results showed that the risk of transmitting HIV to an uninfected partner was reduced by 96%.4

As a concept and a strategy, treating HIV-infected persons to improve their health and to reduce the risk of onward transmission—sometimes called treatment as prevention— refers to the personal and public health benefits of using ART to continuously suppress HIV viral load in the blood and genital fluids, which decreases the risk of transmitting the virus to others. The practice has been used since the mid- 1990s to prevent mother-to-child, or perinatal, transmission of the virus. Research published in 1994 showed that zidovudine, more commonly known as AZT, when given to HIV-infected pregnant women and to their newborns reduced the risk of perinatal transmission from about 25% to 8%.5 Since then, routinely testing pregnant women and treating infected mothers with ART during pregnancy, delivery, and while breastfeeding, when practiced according to recommendations, has reduced the mother’s risk of transmitting HIV to her child by 90%.6  In one study, women who received at least 14 days of ART reduced the risk of transmitting HIV to their babies to less than 1%.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Symptoms and diagnosis of HIV/Aids

When a person is first exposed to HIV, they may show no symptoms for several months or longer. Typically, however, they experience a flu-like illness that includes fever, chills, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and enlarged lymph nodes in the neck and groin areas.This early illness is often followed by a “latency” phase where the virus is less active and no symptoms are present, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This latent period can last up to a decade or more.

People who become infected with HIV may not have any symptoms for up to 10 years, but they can still pass the infection to others. After you come in contact with the virus, it can take up to 3 months for a blood test to show that you have HIV.  
Symptoms related to HIV are usually due to a different infection in the body. Some symptoms related to HIV infection include:
Diarrhea
Fatigue
Fever
Frequent vaginal yeast infections
Headache
Mouth sores, including yeast infection (thrush)
Muscle stiffness or aching
Rashes of different types, including seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis
Sore throat
Swollen lymph glands
Note: Many people have no symptoms when they are diagnosed with HIV.


Diagnosis & Tests

Since HIV/AIDS can set off so many other illnesses, it may be difficult initially to pinpoint the source. Typically, however, these illnesses appear in clusters over a short period of time, cluing patients and doctors into the presence of the virus.

According to NIAID, two types of blood tests can confirm HIV/AIDS infection:

ELISA, or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, which detects disease-fighting proteins called antibodies that are specific to HIV; and
Western blot, which detects antibodies that bind to specific HIV proteins
After someone is first infected it may take weeks or months for the immune system to produce enough detectable antibodies in an HIV blood test. Ironically, an infected person’s viral load may be very high during this time, making the infection exceptionally contagious.

Because of this, the CDC recommends routine HIV testing for all adolescents, adults and pregnant women, and advises that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 should be tested at least once.

Conventional HIV/AIDS tests are sent to a laboratory for analysis and may take a week or more for results. A rapid HIV test is also available that offers results in about 20 minutes, but positive results from either type of test are confirmed with a second test.


Treatment
Doctors usually recommend medicine for patients who are committed to taking all their medications and have a CD4 count below 500 cells/mm3 (which is a sign that of a weakened immune system). Some people, including pregnant women and people with kidney or neurological problems related to HIV, may need treatment regardless of their CD4 count.

It is extremely important for people with HIV to take all doses of their medications, otherwise the virus may become resistant to the drugs. Therapy always involves a combination of antiviral drugs. Pregnant women with HIV infection are treated to reduce the chance of transmitting HIV to their babies.

People with HIV infection need to become educated about the disease and treatment so that they can be active participants in making decisions with their health care provider.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Common Myths About HIV and AIDS

Myth 1: I can get HIV by being around people who are HIV positive.
The evidence shows that HIV is not spread through touch, tears, sweat, or saliva. You cannot catch HIV by:
• Breathing the same air as someone who is HIV-positive
• Touching a toilet seat or doorknob handle after an HIV-positive person
• Drinking from a water fountain
• Hugging, kissing, or shaking hands with someone who is HIV-positive
• Sharing eating utensils with an HIV-positive person
• Using exercise equipment at a gym
You can get it from infected blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or mother’s milk.



Myth 2: I can get HIV from mosquitoes.
Because HIV is spread through blood, people have worried that biting or bloodsucking insects might spread HIV. Several studies, however, show no evidence to support this — even in areas with lots of mosquitoes and cases of HIV. When insects bite, they do not inject the blood of the person or animal they have last bitten. Also, HIV lives for only a short time inside an insect.


Myth 3: I’m HIV-positive, my life is over.
“With proper treatment, we now expect people with HIV to live a normal life span,” says Dr. Michael Horberg, national director of HIV/AIDS for Kaiser Permanente.

“Since 1996, with the advent of highly active, antiretroviral therapy, a person with HIV in an industrialized nation can expect to live a normal life span, so long as they take their prescribed medications,” adds Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, a board-certified infectious disease physician with the University of Pittsburgh


 Myth 4: Sex with partners from the countryside has no risk of HIV.
FALSE! Who knows exactly with whom and where their partner has had sex - and whether they used protection? And: HIV infections happen in small towns as well!


Myth 5: If I’m receiving treatment, I can’t spread the HIV virus.
When HIV treatments work well, they can reduce the amount of virus in your blood to a level so low that it doesn’t show up in blood tests. Research shows, however, that the virus is still “hiding” in other areas of the body. It is still essential to practice safe sex so you won’t make someone else become HIV-positive.


Myth 6: My partner and I are both HIV positive -there’s no reason for us to practice safe sex.
Not all strains of HIV are the same, and being infected with more than one can lead to greater complications, or a “superinfection,” according to Dr. Schochetman.
“The new HIV strain may exhibit a different drug resistance profile than the original HIV infection,” he explains. “And the new virus may show resistance to the current treatment, or cause the current treatment option to be ineffective.”


Myth 7: I could tell if my partner was HIV-positive
You can be HIV-positive and not have any symptoms for years. The only way for you or your partner to know if you’re HIV-positive is to get tested.


Myth 8: Male circumcision prevents HIV
Male circumcision does not prevent HIV infection; it only decreases the likelihood of infection. Several studies have shown that male circumcision reduces a man’s risk by up to 60%. These findings have led the government to embark on a campaign to provide free male circumcision services.
When a man has sex, the penis gets micro cuts from friction, which is generally how HIV enters a male’s body. The foreskin has millions of CD4 receptors, the type of white blood cells that HIV latches on to.


Myth 9: Traditional Medicines can cure HIV
The role of traditional healers has been controversial. This is largely due to the South African government’s promotion of traditional medicine as an alternative to ARVs, up until 2008. This included punting the untested claims and ‘cures’ of people. Traditional medicines have not been empirically proven to cure HIV, there may be herbs that reduce symptoms of HIV opportunistic infections, however to date there is no cure for HIV.

Myth 10: I can be cured from HIV if I have sex with a virgin
Sex with a virgin does not cure HIV. Sexual intercourse whether with a virgin or non-virgin is the primary manner in which HIV is spread. If will only pass the virus to the virgin who may/may not be HIV negative.

Myth 11 : I can’t get HIV from oral sex
It’s true that oral sex is less risky than some other types of sex. But you can get HIV by having oral sex with either a man or a woman who is HIV-positive. Always use a latex barrier during oral sex.

Myth 12: ARVs disfigure you
Today this rarely happens. In the past, some ARVs displaced fat in people’s bodies. One such drug, D4T, also known as Stavudine, was on the South African list for HIV treatment until early last year. It is a cheap drug that works efficiently but has many side effects, such as the loss of fat in the legs, arms and face, resulting in people’s bodies looking “unbalanced”. The state replaced it in April last year with a drug with fewer side effects, TDF.
Others, such as AZT, have also been linked to displacing fat in the body. Some drugs cause fat to show up in the stomach, the back of the neck or the breasts in both men and women. But this almost never happens today as doctors are better equipped to monitor the drugs’ side effects and have a range of replacement drugs to choose from. In extraordinary circumstances of fat displacement, the government offers free liposuction or breast removal surgery.

Myth 13: If I or my partner were HIV positive, we could not have children
HIV-infected women are fertile and can have children. If mothers and their babies use the correct medication, it’s possible for HIV-positive women to have HIV-negative babies.
Without using drugs, there is a 30% chance that HIV-infected women will pass the virus on to their babies in the womb, during birth or by breastfeeding. But if the mother and baby, or even just one of them, use short courses of ARVs, mostly nevirapine and AZT, transmission rates are reduced significantly. This treatment is available for free at government clinics and hospitals.
Mia Malan works for the Discovery Centre for Health Journalism at Rhodes University.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

What is Aids

AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome:


A - Acquired. This condition is acquired, meaning that a person becomes infected with it.
I - Immuno. HIV affects a person's immune system, the part of the body that fights off germs such as bacteria or viruses.
D - Deficiency. The immune system becomes deficient and does not work properly.
S - Syndrome. A person with AIDS may experience other diseases and infections because of a weakened immune system.


AIDS can develop when HIV weakens a person’s immune system so their body is no longer able to protect itself against infections and diseases that a normal immune system would fight off.  As a result, an HIV positive person may show symptoms of different infections and diseases called opportunistic infections. When someone shows symptoms of one or more of these infections, they are considered to have AIDS. Different people with AIDS may experience different clinical problems, depending on what specific opportunistic infections they develop. People who are diagnosed with AIDS can recover and regain their health, but they will still be HIV positive.

Think of AIDS as advanced HIV disease. A person with AIDS has an immune system so weakened by HIV that the person usually becomes sick from one of several opportunistic infections or cancers such as PCP (a type of pneumonia) or KS (Kaposi sarcoma, a type of cancer that affects the skin and internal organs in HIV), wasting syndrome (involuntary weight loss), memory impairment, or tuberculosis. If someone with HIV is diagnosed with one of these opportunistic infections (even if the CD4 count is above 200), he or she is said to have AIDS. AIDS usually takes time to develop from the time a person acquires HIV--usually between 2 to 10 years or more.

Once a person has been diagnosed with AIDS, she or he is always considered to have AIDS, even if that person's CD4 count goes up again and/or they recover from the disease that defined their AIDS diagnosis.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What is HIV

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV. That means that once you have HIV, you have it for life.

No safe and effective cure currently exists, but scientists are working hard to find one, and remain hopeful. Meanwhile, with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. Treatment for HIV is often called antiretroviral therapy or ART. It can dramatically prolong the lives of many people infected with HIV and lower their chance of infecting others. Before the introduction of ART in the mid-1990s, people with HIV could progress to AIDS in just a few years. Today, someone diagnosed with HIV and treated before the disease is far advanced can have a nearly normal life expectancy.

HIV affects specific cells of the immune system, called CD4 cells, or T cells. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. When this happens, HIV infection leads to AIDS.

HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS if not treated. Unlike some other viruses, the human body can’t get rid of HIV completely, even with treatment. So once you get HIV, you have it for life.

HIV attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells (T cells), which help the immune system fight off infections. Untreated, HIV reduces the number of CD4 cells (T cells) in the body, making the person more likely to get other infections or infection-related cancers. Over time, HIV can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. These opportunistic infections or cancers take advantage of a very weak immune system and signal that the person has AIDS, the last stage of HIV infection.

No effective cure currently exists, but with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. The medicine used to treat HIV is called antiretroviral therapy or ART. If taken the right way, every day, this medicine can dramatically prolong the lives of many people infected with HIV, keep them healthy, and greatly lower their chance of infecting others. Before the introduction of ART in the mid-1990s, people with HIV could progress to AIDS in just a few years. Today, someone diagnosed with HIV and treated before the disease is far advanced can live nearly as long as someone who does not have HIV.


AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and is caused by HIV. The names HIV and AIDS can be confusing because both terms describe the same disease. Think of AIDS as advanced HIV disease. A person with AIDS has an immune system so weakened by HIV that the person usually becomes sick from one of several opportunistic infections or cancers such as PCP (a type of pneumonia) or KS (Kaposi sarcoma, a type of cancer that affects the skin and internal organs in HIV), wasting syndrome (involuntary weight loss), memory impairment, or tuberculosis. If someone with HIV is diagnosed with one of these opportunistic infections (even if the CD4 count is above 200), he or she is said to have AIDS. AIDS usually takes time to develop from the time a person acquires HIV--usually between 2 to 10 years or more.

Once a person has been diagnosed with AIDS, she or he is always considered to have AIDS, even if that person's CD4 count goes up again and/or they recover from the disease that defined their AIDS diagnosis.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Diagnosis and Prevention of Trichomoniasis

Trichomoniasis is a common cause of vaginitis. It is a sexually transmitted infection, and is caused by the single-celled protozoan parasite Trichomonas vaginalis producing mechanical stress on host cells and then ingesting cell fragments after cell death. Trichomoniasis is primarily an infection of the urogenital tract; the most common site of infection is the urethra and the vagina in women.

There were about 58 million cases of trichomoniasis in 2013

Signs and Symptoms
Most people infected with trichomonas vaginalis do not have any symptoms. Symptoms experienced include pain, burning or itching in the penis, urethra (urethritis), or vagina (vaginitis). Discomfort for both sexes may increase during intercourse and urination. For women there may also be a yellow-green, itchy, frothy, foul-smelling ("fishy" smell) vaginal discharge. In rare cases, lower abdominal pain can occur. Symptoms usually appear within 5 to 28 days of exposure

Causes
The human genital tract is the only reservoir for this species. Trichomonas is transmitted through sexual or genital contact.

Genetic sequence
A draft sequence of the Trichomonas genome was published on January 12, 2007 in the journal Science confirming that the genome has at least 26,000 genes, a similar number to the human genome. An additional ~35,000 unconfirmed genes, including thousands that are part of potential transposable elements, brings the gene content to well over 60,000.

Diagnosis
There are three main ways to test for Trichomoniasis.

The first is known as saline microscopy. This is the most commonly used method and requires an endocervical, vaginal, or penile swab specimen for examination under a microscope. The presence of one or multiple trichomonads constitutes a positive result. This method is cheap but has a low sensitivity (60-70%) often due to an inadequate sample, resulting in false negatives.

The second diagnostic method is culture, (InPouch TV culture test, BioMed Diagnostics, San Jose, CA) which has historically been the “gold standard” in infectious disease diagnosis. Trichomonas Vaginalis culture tests are relatively cheap; however, sensitivity is still somewhat low (70-89%).

The third method includes the nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) which are more sensitive. These new NAATs include the Xpert TV (Cepheid, Sunnyvale, CA), APTIMA Trichomonas assay (Gen-Probe Inc, San Diego, CA) and the AFFIRM VPIII (BD Diagnostics, Sparks, MD). These tests are more costly than microscopy and culture, and are highly sensitive (80-90%).



Prevention
Use of male condoms may help prevent the spread of trichomoniasis, although careful studies have never been done that focus on how to prevent this infection. Infection with Trichomoniasis through water is unlikely because Trichomonas vaginalis dies in water after 45–60 minutes, in thermal water after 30 minutes to 3 hours and in diluted urine after 5–6 hours.

Currently there are no routine standard screening requirements for the general U.S. population receiving family planning or STI testing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends Trichomoniasis testing for females with vaginal discharge and can be considered for females at higher risk for infection or of HIV-positive serostatus.

The advent of new, highly specific and sensitive trichomoniasis tests present opportunities for new screening protocols for both men and women. Careful planning, discussion, and research are required to determine the cost-efficiency and most beneficial use of these new tests for the diagnosis and treatment of trichomoniasis in the U.S., which can lead to better prevention efforts.

A number of strategies have been found to improve follow-up for STI testing including email and text messaging as reminders of appointments.


Treatment
Treatment for both pregnant and non-pregnant patients usually utilizes metronidazole (Flagyl), 2000 mg by mouth once. Caution should be used in pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. Sexual partners, even if asymptomatic, should also be treated.

For 95-97% of cases, infection is resolved after one dose of metronidazole. Studies suggest that 4-5% of trichomonas cases are resistant to metronidazole, which may account for some “repeat” cases. Without treatment, trichomoniasis can persist for months to years in women, and is thought to improve without treatment in men. Women living with HIV infection have better cure rates if treated for 7 days rather than with one dose.

Screening
Evidence from a randomized controlled trials for screening pregnant women who do not have symptoms for infection with trichomoniasis and treating women who test positive for the infection have not consistently shown a reduced risk of preterm birth. Further studies are needed to verify this result and determine the best method of screening. In the US, screening of pregnant women without any symptoms is only recommended in those with HIV as trichomonas infection is associated with increased risk of transmitting HIV to the fetus.