AIDS Treatment Center in Houston, TX
AIDS | Definition
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, more commonly known as AIDS, is a life-threatening condition caused by the HIV virus. It progressively weakens the immune system, leaving the host vulnerable to some opportunistic infections. Illnesses such as salmonella, and tuberculosis can be deadly to someone diagnosed with AIDS.
AIDS is commonly treated with antiretroviral therapy (ART) or highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Those who follow a strict medication regimen may control the progression of AIDS and even prevent HIV from developing into AIDS.
AIDS | How It Works
AIDS is an advanced stage of the human immunodeficiency virus, otherwise known as HIV. The virus attacks healthy immune cells (typically CD4 T tumor suppressant cells) by tricking them into allowing the virus inside the cell walls. The virus then takes control of the healthy cell, growing within it, infecting other cells and ultimately destroying its host. HIV spreads quickly in its early stages, causing the count of healthy immune cells to plummet. This often leads to intense flu-like symptoms.
Once the virus has spread sufficiently, the speed of its duplication slows and the patient experiences mild symptoms, if any at all. Once the CD4 count drops below 200 healthy cells per cubic millimeter of blood, HIV is typically reclassified as AIDS. This reclassification is often accompanied by the onset of new symptoms (vision loss has frequently been reported).
AIDS | Treatment
Treating AIDS is no easy task. The HIV virus replicates quickly and mutates frequently. ART is designed to prevent the replication of one form of HIV. This works until the virus mutates into strains that resist the medication. Because of its frequent mutation, HAART is often employed to prevent the replication of multiple strains of the virus. Following a strict medication regimen keeps the virus from finding a window of opportunity with which to replicate and mutate. Because HAART targets multiple strains of the virus, the patient is often forced to take a number of medications at once. This is often referred to as a drug “cocktail.”
Failing to adhere to a disciplined medication regimen can pose serious risks to those suffering from AIDS. It was once thought that taking an occasional “vacation” from their medications would benefit AIDS patients. For a while, patients who discontinued their medication regimen felt fine. However, when the virus is constantly suppressed, it grows increasingly eager to take advantage of any opportunity to grow and mutate. While patients were enjoying a break from their medication, the virus began to replicate at amazing speeds creating new, mutated strands left and right. This caused many on a medication vacation to cross the threshold from HIV into AIDS. A number of patients died as a result. This approach is no longer recommended, and many of those who strictly adhere to their dosage schedules never develop AIDS from the HIV virus.
There are five main classes of HIV medication:
- Entry inhibitors: These prevent HIV from entering the walls of healthy cells, stalling its replication.
- Fusion inhibitors: These prevent the virus from adhering to healthy cells.
- Reverse transcriptase inhibitors: Two types – nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) keep the virus from reproducing and non-nucleoside RT inhibitors (NNRTIs) prevents the replication of HIV by interfering with key proteins.
- Integrase inhibitors: These prevent the DNA of the HIV virus from blending into the DNA of the healthy cell.
- Protease inhibitors: These stop HIV from creating viral particles, therefore limiting its growth.
AIDS | Living With AIDS
A disciplined medication regimen and increased focus on preventative health allows many living with AIDS to live longer and more normally. Taking extra care to avoid sickness and infection is crucial to those living with AIDS. This means maintaining personal hygiene, avoiding germs and bacteria, and staying away from people with contagious illnesses.
Many living with AIDS find support groups to be a fantastic source of hope and support. It should be noted that it is the responsibility of AIDS patients to disclose their condition to any future sexual partners. Knowingly infecting others is illegal in the United States and often carries a jail sentence. Fortunately, the development of modern medicine has allowed those living with HIV to find hope. HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence.
Request more information about AIDS treatment today. Call (713) 273-5804 or contact Dr. Kimberly Evans online.
Sugarland Medical Spa Kimberly L Evans, MD, FACOG
Address1429 Hwy 6 South
Sugar Land, TX 77479
08:00AM - 05:00PM
Tue: 08:00AM - 05:00PM
Wed: 08:00AM - 05:00PM
Thu: 08:00AM - 05:00PM
Fri: 08:00AM - 05:00PM
Sat: 08:00AM - 12:00PM