HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system.HIV destroys a type of white blood cells that helps your body fight infection.
As soon as someone contracts HIV, it starts to reproduce in their body. The person’s immune system reacts to the antigens by producing antibodies.The time between exposure to HIV and when it becomes detectable in the blood is called the HIV window period. Most people develop detectable HIV antibodies within 23 to 90 days after transmission.
It HIV is not treated, it can lead to AlDS(Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). AIDS is the final stage of infection with HIV. Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS.
There is currently no effective cure. Once people get HIV, they have it for life, but medications can dramatically slow the progression of the disease.
The first signs of HIV infection may be flu like symptoms –
• Sore throat
• Swollen lymph nodes
• Mouth ulcers
• Night sweats
• Muscle aches
• Weight loss
There symptoms may come and go within two to four weeks. This stage is called acute HIV infection.
When people with HIV don’t get treatment, they typically progress through three stages. With the advancements in treatment, progression to Stage 3 is less common today than in the early days of HIV.
Stage 1 – Acute HIV infection
• People have a large amount of HIV in their blood. They are very contagious at this stage.
• Some people have flu-like symptoms. This is the body’s natural response to infection.
• But some people may not feel sick right away or at all.
• Only antigen/ antibody tests or nucleic acid tests (NATs) can diagnose acute infection.
Stage 2 – Chronic HIV infection
• This stage is also called asymptomatic HIV infection or clinical latency.
• HIV is still active but reproduces at very low levels.
• People may not have any symptoms or get sick during this phase.
• Without taking HIV medicine, this period may last a decade or longer, but some may progress faster.
• People can transmit HIV in this phase.
• At the end of this phase, the amount of HIV in the blood (Called Viral load) goes up and the CD4 call countgoes down. The person may have symptoms as the virus levels increase in the body, and the person moves int stage 3.
• People who take HIV medicine as prescribed may never more into Stage 3.
Stage 3 – Acquired Immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
• This is the most severe phase of HIV infection.
• People with AIDS have such badly damaged immune systems that they get an increasing number of severe illnesses, called opportunistic infections having symptoms such as
* Recurring fever & chills
* Chronic diarrhoea
* Swollen lymph glands
* Persistent white spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or in your mouth
* Persistent, unexplained fatigue
* Weight loss
* Skin rashes
• People receive an AIDS diagnosis when their CD4 cell count drops below 200 cells/mm, or if they develop certain opportunistic infections.
• People with AIDS can have a high viral load and be very infectious.
• Without treatment, people with AIDS typically survive about three years.
It is caused by a virus. It can spread through –
* Sexual contact
* Blood transfusion
* Infected needles or syringes
* From mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth or breast feeding
You can’t become infected with HIN through ordinary contact. That means you can’t catch HIV or AIDS by hugging, kissing, dancing or shaking hands with someone who has the infection.It is not spread through the air, water or insect bites.
Risk Factors –
Anyone of any age, race, sex or sexual orientation can be infected with HIV /AIDS. However, you are at greatest risk of HIV/AIDS if you –
• Have unprotected sex
• Have an sexual transmitted disease
• Use IV drugs
This infection weakens your immune system, making you much more likely to develop many infections and certain type of cancers such as-
• Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP)
• Candidiasis (Oral thrush)
• Tuberculosis (TB)
• Cryptococcal meningitis
• Kaposi’s sarcoma
• Wasting syndrome
• Neurological complications
• Kidney disease which is HIV associated nephropathy
• Liver disease
Several different tests can be used to diagnose such as –
• Antibody/Antigen Tests
• Antibody Test
• Nucleic acid test (NAT)
If you receive a diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, serial tests can help your doctor determine the stage of your disease and the best treatment, including –
• CD4 T cell count
• Viral load
• Drug resistance
Treatment should begin as soon as possible after a diagnosis of HIV, regardless of viral load.
The main treatment of HIV is antiretroviral therapy (ART), a combination of daily medications that stop the virus from reproducing. This keeps protect CD4 cells, keeping the immune system strong enough to take measures against disease.
Two drugs from one clan, plus a third drug from a second class, are typically used.
The classes of anti- HIV drugs include –
• Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)
E.g. Efavirenz, Rilpivirine and Doravirine
• Nucleoside or nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs)
E.g.Abacavir, Tenofovir, Lamivudine and Zidovudine.
• Protease inhibitors ( PIs)
E.g. Atazanavir, Darunavir and Ritonavir.
• Integrase inhibitors
E.g. Raltegravir and Dolutegravir
• Entry or fusion inhibitors
E.g. Enfuvirtide and Maraviroc.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
According to Ayurveda the AIDS disease may be correlated with Kshaya or Ojakshaya meaning loss of energy.
The disease is caused by the dominant kapha dosha along with the other doshas tends to block the path for the flow rasadi dhatus in their respective locations this resulting in deterioration of sapta dhatus Rasa, Rakta, Mansa, Meda, Asthi, Majja and the Shukra, this resulting into the disease.
Line of treatment
• The first step to stem the disease is to ensure a good and healthy atmosphere for the patient. He/she should be surrounded by well meaning friends and relatives who must affirm that the disease state is totally curable. Nothing negative should be discussed before the patient.
• The patient should be given nourishing food which is easily digestible.
• Patient should be encouraged to do easy exercise which does not strain his fragile health.
• Patient should be kept engaged in fruitful activities.
• Initially, the patient is given tonics and rejuvenators to boost immunity levels and to strengthen the system and stimulate appetite.
• After gaining some strength, shodhana techniques are used to expel toxins from the body through enemas, purgation and emesis.
Some Ayurvedic Immunity Boosters
• Shatavari Kalpa
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