HIV AIDS Services

Lifestyle and Home Remedies:

Although it’s important to receive medical treatment for HIV/AIDS, it’s also essential to take an active role in your own care. The following suggestions may help you stay healthy longer:

  • Eat healthy foods. Emphasize fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. Healthy foods help keep you strong, give you more energy and support your immune system.
  • Avoid certain foods. Food-borne illnesses can be especially severe in people who are infected with HIV. Avoid unpasteurized dairy products, raw eggs and raw seafood such as oysters, sushi or sashimi. Cook meat until it’s well-done or until there’s no trace of pink color.
  • Get immunizations. These may prevent infections such as pneumonia and the flu. Make sure the vaccines don’t contain live viruses, which can be dangerous for people with weakened immune systems.
  • Take care with companion animals. Some animals may carry parasites that can cause infections in people who are HIV-positive. Cat feces can cause toxoplasmosis, while pet reptiles can carry salmonella.

AIDS Services:

Receiving a diagnosis of any life-threatening illness is devastating. But the emotional, social and financial consequences of HIV/AIDS can make coping with this illness especially difficult, not only for you but also for those closest to you.

Fortunately, a wide range of services and resources are available to people with HIV. Most HIV/AIDS clinics have social workers, counselors or nurses who can help you with problems directly or put you in touch with people who can. They can arrange for transportation to and from doctor appointments, help with housing and child care, deal with employment and legal issues, and see you through financial emergencies.

Coming to terms with your illness may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. For some people, having a strong faith or a sense of something greater than themselves makes this process easier. Others seek counseling from someone who understands HIV/AIDS. Still others make a conscious decision to experience their lives as fully and intensely as they can or to help other people who have the disease.

What is in the Future for HIV-Infected Individuals?

Trends continue toward simplifying drug regimens to improve adherence and decrease side effects. In addition, the availability of multiple new drugs in new classes has made it possible to suppress viral load to undetectable levels even in many of the most treatment-experienced patients. With such great success in treatment, the field has increasingly considered strategies that may someday allow patients to control viral replication without the use of antiretrovirals. This could be in the form of a true cure with complete eradication of HIV from the body or a functional cure in which the virus persists but is unable to replicate. Research is in the very earliest stages with regards to development of strategies for viral eradication. Studies to control viral replication in the absence of antiretroviral therapy are actively being pursued, although with limited success so far. One strategy has been to use immune-based therapies to boost the natural immune response to HIV and allow for complete or partial control. Another area of research is to eradicate infected cells, so-called “latent reservoir” with various agents to facilitate eradication from the body. This research has also limited success.

The recent report of the so called “Berlin patient” has stimulated a great deal of interest. This man had leukemia, which was treated with a bone marrow transplant. His doctors were able to identify a tissue-matched donor who happened to be one of the rare individuals who carried a genetic defect resulting in the lack of CCR5 on the surface of their cells. CCR5 is required for certain types of HIV to enter the cells, and these unique individuals are relatively resistant to infection. After the bone marrow transplant, the patient was able to stop antiretroviral therapy and for over a year has not had detectable HIV in his body. While only time will tell as to how long this will last, it provides evidence that a person whose blood cells can be replaced with those without the CCR5 molecule might be able to stop HIV therapy without viral rebound. The experience with the Berlin patient has not yet been replicated and, even if it is, will not be an option for most people. First, bone marrow transplants are associated with very high risk of illness and death, and second, very few patients who need a bone marrow transplant for any reason are likely to find a tissue-matched donor who carries this rare genetic mutation. However, several research groups have been working on ways to genetically engineer an individual’s own blood CD4 cells or stem cells to not have the CCR5 molecule. While this research is in the very early stages of development, it certainly provides hope for the future of research related to HIV cure/eradication.

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