What is HIV/AIDS?
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, which affects the immune system, while AIDS stands for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, which is the late stage of HIV that can only be diagnosed through a blood test.
HIV spreads by contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. AIDS can develop as a result of HIV infection – an illness that weakens your immune system and makes you more susceptible to infections and certain cancers.
What Is the Difference Between AIDS and HIV?
There is a difference between AIDS and HIV.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, which is the final stage of the HIV infection. The person has developed an acquired immune deficiency. This means that they do not have enough healthy cells to fight off infection.
The HIV virus damages important parts of a person’s immune system, such as their: CD4 cells or T-cells. When these cells are weak or damaged, it can lead to AIDS. AIDS is not just one disease and it does not always lead to death – some people with AIDS live for many years with treatment until their CD4 cells are too weak to fight off any infection and they die from other complications caused by the virus or illness.
How Does HIV Spread?
A person can become infected with HIV by exposure to HIV-infected blood, vaginal, anal, or oral secretions. The virus is present in high concentrations in these fluids and therefore exposure to them will lead to infection.
HIV cannot be transmitted if a healthy person has physical contact with a person who does not have the virus, nor through mosquito bites or airborne particles.
The virus can also be transmitted by sharing needles and syringes contaminated with HIV-infected blood. It can also be transmitted via accidental needle sticks as well as through transplants of organs or tissue from an infected donor.
When should I consider a Genetic Test for HIV Treatment?
Genetic testing for HIV treatment is a type of genetic test that can be used to predict how quickly your body will respond to different treatments.
Genetic tests for HIV treatment are being used more and more as a way of tailoring the correct treatment plan for an individual. This is because they provide information about your genes which determines how your body will respond to medication. When deciding whether or not it’s right to get tested, there are a few things you need to consider: what kind of treatments you’ve been taking so far, what kind of infections you have, and what kind of side effects you have experienced.
What Does a Treatment for HIV/AIDS Include?
The treatment for HIV/AIDS is a combination of medications to fight the virus. The medications are called antiretroviral drugs. They work by blocking certain enzymes in your body that HIV needs in order to reproduce.
The drugs are given as combinations or “cocktails”. These cocktails are made up of three or four different drugs that work together to block HIV from replicating and spreading throughout the body. The first drug in the cocktail is usually a “nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor” (NRTI). It stops HIV from copying itself and infecting new cells.
Patients who are HIV-positive may need to take one or more other types of medications in addition to their antiretroviral therapy. Some common medications that HIV patients may need are protease inhibitors and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs). These drugs help keep the virus from replicating in a patient’s body.
Common Types of HIV/AIDS Medication
HIV/AIDS is a chronic condition that cannot be cured. However, there are many drugs that can control the virus and prevent it from infecting other people. Unfortunately, drug names for HIV/AIDS medication are often confusing or hard to pronounce. For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of the most common Americanized names for HIV/AIDS medication to avoid any confusion!
Names of HIV/AIDS Medication:
- Retrovir (Retrovir)
Retrovir is an antiretroviral medication used to slow down the replication of HIV in the body. It may be prescribed alone or in combination with other medications. Retrovir is taken by mouth, usually once daily.
Retrovir works by preventing HIV from multiplying and spreading in the body. Retrovir does not cure HIV and people living with HIV must take it for life to keep their infection under control and prevent AIDS from developing.
- Epivir (Epivir)
Epivir helps decrease the viral load in the patient’s body by preventing reverse transcriptase from replicating new viruses. Epivir is usually given to patients who are infected with HIV-1 and have developed resistance to other drugs, or when a patient has not responded to other treatments.
- Barr (Efavirenz)
Barr is just one of the drugs used in combination with other drugs to decrease the chances of HIV transmission from mother to baby. It’s important that pregnant women use these medications together with other care providers who are trained and skilled in providing care for mothers with HIV.
- Zerit (Zidovudine)
Zidovudine, an azide derivative of thymidine, is a nucleoside analog reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) that inhibits HIV replication by mimicking the natural substrate deoxyuridine triphosphate. This agent blocks the conversion of deoxyuridine triphosphate to its metabolite, uracil; as a result, viral DNA synthesis is inhibited.
- Lopinavir (Lopinavir)
Lopinavir is a type of HIV protease inhibitor used to treat HIV infection in adults and children who are at least 3 years old. It can be taken with or without food. Lopinavir may not be the right treatment for you if you have certain serious liver problems, or if you are allergic to any of its ingredients.
It can take up to 2 weeks for the effects of Lopinavir to wear off, so it’s important that you use this treatment exactly as your healthcare provider has prescribed it.
Side Effects of HIV/AIDS Medication
HIV/AIDS medication can have some side effects. However, with the treatments today, these side effects don’t have to be a major problem.
Some of the most common side effects of HIV/AIDS medication are pain or numbness in the hands and feet, headache, fever and rash. These are not life-threatening or debilitating and can be managed by taking over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
The main goal for HIV/AIDS medication is to suppress the virus so that an infected person is no longer able to transmit it to others and HIV becomes a chronic disease rather than a death sentence.
How to Manage HIV/AIDS
To manage HIV, it is important for the patient to take medication every day that will help prevent the virus from multiplying in their body. If taken correctly, the medications will stop more than 95% of people from developing AIDS.
In addition, when HIV-positive people are on treatment and their viral load is suppressed (when it is at very low levels or undetectable), they cannot transmit HIV to others through sex or sharing needles or other equipment.
People living with HIV/AIDS have to be aware of the various factors that can affect their health. They need to know what personal protective measures they should take to keep themselves safe from infection. It is also important that they know how to access treatment and care, what their HIV-related rights are, and what services are available.
Best Diet for HIV/AIDS patients
It is important to know that HIV is a chronic condition that can’t be cured. However, there are ways to manage it and people living with it can lead full and healthy lives. This includes taking anti-HIV medications, eating nutritious food, exercising regularly, and managing other conditions.
The AIDS Foundation of Chicago provides information about nutrition for people living with HIV/AIDS. They have created the Food Guide for People Living with HIV (http://www.afchicago.org/resources/food-guide-for-people-living-with-hiv) which outlines how to eat in order to maintain a healthy weight while living with HIV or AIDS. It includes tips on what to eat and avoid as well as warning signs of malnutrition.
Please call Superior Compounding Pharmacy to speak with one of our licensed pharmacists today at 734-404-6065. We can help answer any medication questions that you may have.