Progression from HIV to AIDS

The final stage of HIV is progression to AIDS. A diagnosis of HIV usually occurs when an HIV patient has developed one or more opportunistic infections or cancers and has a very low count of T helper cells. It is possible, however, that an HIV patient can be very sick but not diagnosed with AIDS (Avert, 2008). Available HIV Testing In the beginning, the only test available was the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test. This test concentrated on HIV antibodies. If the antibodies were present in the blood sample, the test was repeated, and then another test, the Western blot test, was performed.

The Western blot test concentrates on HIV proteins in the blood (Mayo Clinic, 2008). While the tests previously described took about two weeks to produce results, new testing can provide results in as little as 20 minutes. Fluids are collected from the mouth on a treated pad. If a positive result is given, the test will be confirmed with a blood test (Mayo Clinic, 2008). Treatments There are 30 antiretroviral medications that have been approved by the FDA for use in the treatment of HIV. There are four major classifications for these medications, as listed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (2007):

a) Reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitors – inhibit the conversion of HIV RNA to HIV DNA b) Protease inhibitors – inhibit HIV protease enzymes that produce infectious viral particles c) Entry and fusion inhibitors – block the HIV enzyme used to integrate the virus and the host cell HIV can easily mutate and develop a resistance to any of these medications. It is imperative that health providers utilize a combination of treatments to inhibit the virus effectively. Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) is the term used when three or more medications are used in combination therapy.

More recently, the FDA approved the first three medication combination pill, named Atripla (NIAID, 2007). Possible Medication Side Effects As with any medication, there are side effects associated with the antiretroviral medications. A few of the RT inhibitors cause a decrease in red and/or white blood cells. There are a few that can also cause pancreas inflammation or nerve damage. The side effects possible with protease inhibitors include diarrhea and nausea, but they can also have harmful interactions with other medications.

It is recommended that if any side effects appear, a physician should be consulted immediately (NIAID, 2007). AIDS Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the final stage of HIV infection. According to the Mayo Clinic (2008), there is an estimated 38. 6 million people are living with HIV, globally. AIDS symptoms are generally the result of opportunistic infections and cancers (MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, 2006). This stage is fatal; it leads to death. Awareness and Prevention The key to controlling an incurable epidemic is prevention and awareness.

For the uninfected people, this is as simple as education about HIV/AIDS and practicing safety. Make sure that you have an understanding about HIV and all it entails, including the information contained within this paper. Teach others about what you have learned; your family and friends will appreciate the information in the long-run. Make sure that you know if your partner(s) is HIV positive. Practice safe sex. Do not share needles. Get tested regularly (Mayo Clinic, 2008). For people who are already HIV infected, the job becomes to protect other from contracting the disease from you.

Practice safe sex. Inform any of your partners that you have HIV. Inform any other necessary people that you have HIV. Do not share needles. Do not donate blood or organs. Do not share razors or toothbrushes (Mayo Clinic, 2008). The CDC and Health and Human Services have joined with the United States government to form the Global AIDS Program. This program is designed to implement President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The GAP helps disadvantaged countries prevent HIV infection and improve treatment, care, and support for those who have HIV.

The GAP focuses its efforts to three strategies: Prevention, Care and Treatment, and Surveillance and Infrastructure Development (CDC, 2005). Conclusion The numbers of people living with HIV/AIDS is staggering. Millions of people have been diagnosed with this terminal disease. The rising numbers show that there is a problem with this epidemic. The problem is simple, yet complicated: there is no cure for HIV or AIDS. The treatments available only slow the progression of the disease. The opportunistic infections are treated as they occur.Until there is a cure discovered, this will continue to be a serious threat.

Works Cited

Aegis. “Opportunistic Infections. ” 2001. Available at http://www. aegis. com/topics/oi AIDSInfo. “The HIV Life Cycle. ” The Body, 2005. Available at http://www. thebody. com/content/whatis/art40989. html Avert. “Stages of HIV Infection. ” 2008. Available at http://www. avert. org/hivstages. htm Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Global AIDS Program (GAP). ” 2005. Available at http://www. cdc. gov/nchstp/od/gap/docs/2005RevisedGAPFACTSHEET. pdf

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “HIV/AIDS among African Americans. ” 2007. Available at http://www. cdc. gov/hiv/factsheets/ Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “HIV/AIDS among Women. ” 2007. Available at http://www. cdc. gov/hiv/factsheets/ Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “HIV/AIDS among Hispanics/Latinos. ” 2008. Available at http://www. cdc. gov/hiv/factsheets/ Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “HIV/AIDS in the United States. ” 2008. Available at http://www. cdc. gov/hiv/factsheets/ Mayo Clinic. “HIV/AIDS.

” 2008. Available at http://www. mayoclinic. com/health/hiv-aids/DS00005/DSECTION=1 National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “HIV Infection and AIDS: An Overview. ” 2007. Available at http://www. niaid. nih. gov/factsheets/hivinf. htm National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Treatment of HIV Infection. ” 2007. Available at http://www. niaid. nih. gov/factsheets/treat-hiv. htm MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. “AIDS. ” MedlinePlus, 2006. Available at http://www. nlm. nih. gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000594. htm#symptoms

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