Treatment

There is currently no vaccine or cure for HIV or AIDS. The only known methods of prevention are based on avoiding exposure to the virus or, failing that, an antiretroviral treatment directly after a highly significant exposure, called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). PEP has a very demanding four week schedule of dosage. It also has very unpleasant side effects including diarrhea, malaise, nausea and fatigue.

Current treatment for HIV infection consists of highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART. This has been highly beneficial to many HIV-infected individuals since its introduction in 1996 when the protease inhibitor-based HAART initially became available. Current optimal HAART options consist of combinations (or "cocktails") consisting of at least three drugs belonging to at least two types, or "classes," of anti-retroviral agents. Typical regimens consist of two nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NARTIs or NRTIs) plus either a protease inhibitor or a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI). Because HIV disease progression in children is more rapid than in adults, and laboratory parameters are less predictive of risk for disease progression, particularly for young infants, treatment recommendations are more aggressive for children than for adults. In developed countries where HAART is available, doctors assess the viral load, rapidity in CD4 decline, and patient readiness while deciding when to recommend initiating treatment.

HAART allows the stabilization of the patient’s symptoms and viremia, but it neither cures the patient of HIV, nor alleviates the symptoms, and high levels of HIV-1, often HAART resistant, return once treatment is stopped.[93][94] Moreover, it would take more than the lifetime of an individual to be cleared of HIV infection using HAART. Despite this, many HIV-infected individuals have experienced remarkable improvements in their general health and quality of life, which has led to the plummeting of HIV-associated morbidity and mortality. In the absence of HAART, progression from HIV infection to AIDS occurs at a median of between nine to ten years and the median survival time after developing AIDS is only 9.2 months. HAART is thought to increase survival time by between 4 and 12 years. This average reflects the fact that for some patients — and in many clinical cohorts this may be more than fifty percent of patients — HAART achieves far less than optimal results. This is due to a variety of reasons such as medication intolerance/side effects, prior ineffective antiretroviral therapy and infection with a drug-resistant strain of HIV. However, non-adherence and non-persistence with antiretroviral therapy is the major reason most individuals fail to get any benefit from and develop resistance to HAART. The reasons for non-adherence and non-persistence with HAART are varied and overlapping. Major psychosocial issues, such as poor access to medical care, inadequate social supports, psychiatric disease and drug abuse contribute to non-adherence. The complexity of these HAART regimens, whether due to pill number, dosing frequency, meal restrictions or other issues along with side effects that create intentional non-adherence also has a weighty impact. The side effects include lipodystrophy, dyslipidaemia, insulin resistance, an increase in cardiovascular risks and birth defects.

Daily multivitamin and mineral supplements have been found to reduce HIV disease progression among men and women. This could become an important low-cost intervention provided during early HIV disease to prolong the time before antiretroviral therapy is required. Some individual nutrients have also been tried. Anti-retroviral drugs are expensive, and the majority of the world's infected individuals do not have access to medications and treatments for HIV and AIDS. It has been postulated that only a vaccine can halt the pandemic because a vaccine would possibly cost less, thus being affordable for developing countries, and would not require daily treatments. However, after over 20 years of research, HIV-1 remains a difficult target for a vaccine.

Research to improve current treatments includes decreasing side effects of current drugs, further simplifying drug regimens to improve adherence, and determining the best sequence of regimens to manage drug resistance. A number of studies have shown that measures to prevent opportunistic infections can be beneficial when treating patients with HIV infection or AIDS. Vaccination against hepatitis A and B is advised for patients who are not infected with these viruses and are at risk of becoming infected. Patients with substantial immunosuppression are also advised to receive prophylactic therapy for Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (PCP), and many patients may benefit from prophylactic therapy for toxoplasmosis and Cryptococcus meningitis as well.

Various forms of alternative medicine have been tried to treat symptoms or alter the course of the disease. In the first decade of the epidemic when no useful conventional treatment was available, a large number of people with AIDS experimented with alternative therapies. The definition of "alternative therapies" in AIDS has changed since that time. Then, the phrase often referred to community-driven treatments, untested by government or pharmaceutical company research.

11 comments:

  1. Great blog and great informations! Thank You!

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  2. Many useful infos. Good job

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  3. Thanks for blogging!

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  4. Damn. So basically, people don't comply with treatment becouse to them its actually worse then the illness... Just one more reason to use a rubber :/

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  5. Good to see people are blogging about such a serious disease! Keep spreading the knowledge :)

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  6. Aids is such a big problem, it would be interesting to contrast the deaths of aids to cancer and see which one is a bigger problem.

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  7. This is all good information to know.

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  8. if aids would be gone, world would be a better place.

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  9. Its good to see someone blogging about a serious issue like this(unlike me:D)Good stuff to know

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