HIV and AIDS
The human immunodeficiency virus is a retrovirus infecting cells with CD4 receptors, most notably the CD4 lymphocytes (also called T4 or T helper cells). Infection causes cell death and a decline in immune function resulting in opportunistic infections, malignancies, and neurologic lesions. These opportunistic infections define the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). As of 1/1/93 all HIV infected persons with < 200 CD4 cells are categorized as AIDS. HIV appears to have direct effects on the central nervous system, the GI tract and other systems.
The cause of AIDS is Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.
Risk factors include:Sexual activity: Homosexual men are at greatest risk, but all sexually active people are at risk, dependent on the risk factors of, and number of, sexual partners; Injection drug use (sharing of contaminated needles);
Recipients of blood products: Highest risk from 1975 to March 1985 when HIV screening of blood was instituted. Transmission outside this time period is less likely.; Hemophiliacs who have received pooled plasma products are at high risk. (Neither gamma globulin nor Hepatitis B vaccine produced in the United States have been identified with HIV transmission.);
Children of HIV-infected women:; About 30% of the children of women with HIV infection during pregnancy will be infected; Breast feeding is a possible route of transmission and therefore not recommended for infected mothers; Prenatal, intrapartum and postpartum zidovudine significantly decreases the risk of HIV transmission from mother to child;
Health care workers greatest risk is needle stick (estimate 1 in 250 for hollow needles).
Protecting the body against free radical damage can help it better fend off viruses and may slow the progression of AIDS.
AIDS patients often suffer from serious health complications related to impaired digestive function. Many individuals with AIDS present with "leaky gut"damage to the GI barrier that can further compromise health by increasing the penetration of toxins and allergens.
Adrenal Hormones: Some researchers believe that imbalances of the adrenal hormones cortisol and DHEA suppress immune response and make the body more vulnerable to the viral infections associated with AIDS.
Nutritional imbalances of fatty acids are critical, because they play such a key role in regulating the body's immune response.
Males with low circulating levels of testosterone may be more prone to muscle wasting and other symptoms of a more aggressive infection.
Many illnesses mimic HIV infection. Standard HIV lab tests are the ELISA, which is reported as reactive or non-reactive. Reactive tests should be repeated. Repeatedly reactive tests are confirmed by another type of test (most commonly the Western Blot). Sensitivity and specificity of ELISA test is > 98% and may approach 100%.
The Western blot (WB) test results are positive, negative, or indeterminate (indeterminate tests result from non-specific reactions of HIV-negative sera with some HIV proteins). Currently the CDC recommends reaction with two of the following three bands as criteria for positivity: P24; gp41, and gp 120/ 160. If the WB is indeterminate, perform follow-up testing at three and six months.
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