HIV Vaccine

by admin July 27, 2015

HIV-infected individuals and researchers have trekked the long and arduous road in their never-ending search for an HIV vaccine. As of today, no vaccine has been developed which could stop a person to get infected with HIV, the deadly virus that eventually progresses to AIDS. There have been varying levels of success that has been gained from the different methods used by researchers to develop an HIV vaccine that will successfully work. Developing an effective vaccine against the HIV virus has proven to be hard as its characteristic is very different from that of other viruses. The HIV virus’ capability to quickly adjust to medications is the reason why four kinds of drugs are given to patients to fight the virus.

The vaccines that have been successfully developed and used today to fight other viruses were patented after the gained natural immunity from an infection. A virus, like the flu virus, cannot re-infect an individual that has been infected and cured of it. In the case of AIDS, developing a vaccine from immunity is not possible since no infected individual has been cured of the infection. A large number of available vaccines sold in the market usually consist of either dead or live attenuated organisms. These vaccines have no effect with HIV as using a retrovirus that is alive or dead has no antigens to combat it, notwithstanding the fact that it could even lead to serious health complications as well.

On the upside, great progress has been made in the last couple of years’ search for an HIV vaccine. A mosaic vaccine developed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory by their researchers believe that the vaccine can help the immune system of a human body respond to HIV despite its capability to replicate. Tests done to lab animals such as mice and monkeys show the vaccine to highly increase the responses of their immune system. Human trials using this vaccine are next planned by the researchers which gained inspiration from the donations coming in from various foundations.

Another vaccine has been developed by the Maryland School of Medicine. The developed vaccine shows an increased production of powerful antibodies to combat the different species of HIV. The safe use of the vaccine for human consumption and its capability to get a response from an individual’s immune system are the focus of the researchers in their evaluation for this newly developed vaccine. If the study is funded properly, the search for an HIV vaccine may finally become successful in the forthcoming years. For the last 20 years, scientists and researchers have done all they could to understand and fight the virus which conveys a message of hope coming in from top experts of this particular field which could bring about the eradication of this traitorous and deadly disease.

In the meantime, vigilance from each and everyone could help contain the infection from spreading further. Safe sex practices have to be followed and made a part of every sexual activity in order for the HIV infection to be stopped.

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HIV Testing

by admin July 27, 2015

Media attention is no longer focused on Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV that is the precursor to AIDS as it was during the 1980s, not because it does not exist anymore. Far from it because until now there is still no cure for the HIV/AIDS disease, but a sudden rise in the number of infected people has prompted the Centers for Disease Control to re-direct their attention to HIV testing. This action and announcement from the CDC came as a timely issue as it came during the celebration of the World AIDS Day.

The reason for CDC to encourage and implement an HIV testing was the more than 200,000 population in the U.S. infected with the HIV disease and are unaware of the fact. This would mean these 200,000 people could just as easily pass the infection on to more people. Another alarming finding was the 55 percent of adult Americans who have never ever been tested for an HIV infection despite the rising numbers of HIV/AIDS infected people all over the world, if not in the United States. With this issues in mind, CDC is now making it a requirement for all adults to be regularly screened and states further the one of their top priority programs would be HIV testing.

The hindrances that usually make adult Americans to avoid HIV screening would be the expensive cost of the blood testing and the embarrassment of asking for an HIV test from his or her doctor. This situation is known to the CDC when they revealed that there are 47 million adult Americans who forego medical care on some very serious diseases such as HIV, high blood pressure, and diabetes even at great risk to their health because of the costs and stigma.

In a direct line to these health needs, the nation’s leader has responded with the offer of nationwide HIV testing that is affordable, fast, and confidential. Participating labs found everywhere offer the services no matter where individuals live.

The HIV testing packages have been specially created to make it even more affordable and they include HIV-2 EIA, HIV-1 Abs, and HIV-1 Western Block. The HIV-1 Abs is the least expensive which has made it the most popular HIV test in the United States with only one business day fast turnaround time and results. This would mean instant knowledge if tests are positive or negative which do away with the usual stress of waiting for a long time for the result to come. Another great thing about this program is the HIV-1 ICMA antibodies that come with a Western Blot confirmation at no extra charge should the tests show a recurring positive result.

A positive result after an HIV-1 Abs testing has been done is usually backed by the HIV-1 Western Blot test to confirm the result. The different ‘bands’ that make up the different kinds of HIV antigen groups are the areas that the HIV-1 Western Blot test concentrates on should there be a positive result coming in from an HIV test.

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HIV Test Kit

by admin July 27, 2015

The shame and stigma that is attached to being infected with the HIV virus is the thing that stops people from submitting to an HIV test. However, the life-threatening menace of the virus would be the encouragement for an infected individual to seek help. Yet, does it have to invade one’s privacy in order to do that? Would something as convenient and private as an HIV home test kit be available and if so, would it give accurate results?

If you suspect that you have acquired an HIV virus from a recent sexual encounter, the time to act and confirm it is now. If left untested and untreated, the HIV could eventually progress to AIDS and by that time it will be too late. We are all aware that there is no known cure for HIV/AIDS despite the advances in scientific and medical technology and research. The only chance that an HIV-infected individual has is to stop the replication of the virus without it progressing to AIDS and live for a longer period.

The first step that needs to be taken is to have an HIV testing done to confirm whether you have the virus or not. The upside to testing is the availability of HIV home test kits that can be performed in the privacy of your home. Just remember to get the ones that have the approval of FDA which qualifies it to be an HIV home kit that could give accurate results. The downside to the home kits is the state laws. Some states consider them as illegal since home testing could not be tracked. Federal law has sided with the right to privacy of an infected individual, but this has been disregarded by some states. The best way for you to find out before getting an HIV home test kit is to check your state laws.

Just a heads up for you to consider before buying your own HIV home test kit. HIV antigens can only be detected three months after it has infected you. The test would be able to give accurate results when 12 weeks has gone by from the time that you had a suspected sexual encounter. There are also cases where it took more than three months for the HIV antigen to be detected.

An HIV home test kit comes complete with instructions on the proper way to get a blood specimen. What you need to do is to wash your hands before pricking your finger. This is to avoid contamination of other chemicals that may be on your finger to the blood specimen. Some HIV home test kits could provide accurate results in a matter of ten minutes. This is if the period of three months from suspected infection has taken place.

Should the results show that you have acquired the infection, do not look at it as a death sentence. The HIV antigens in your body would not necessarily progress to AIDS as seen in other cases of other infected people who have learned to control it and lead normal lives as well.

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HIV – Symptoms in Men

by admin July 24, 2015

Most of us are aware that the HIV virus weakens the immune system which is responsible for protecting our bodies from harmful infections. The mode of transmittal for HIV virus is either through body fluids such as semen and vaginal fluids or blood transfusion of infected blood. If left untreated, HIV could eventually process to AIDS. The virus cannot live without a host body but it will certainly thrive with a healthy one that has been infected through the delicate membranes of our genitalia such as the vagina, penis, rectum, and urethra.

The signs and symptoms of early onset of the HIV virus are different for men and women. For the men, the initial stage of the infection will manifest flu-like symptoms such as periodic headaches that may be mild or moderate accompanied by fever. The headaches that will be experienced will not be different from the usual headaches that we normally experience. The difference would be the swelling and inflammation of the various lymph nodes in the body. Glands will have firm and raised indurations in the armpit, groin, and neck. No pain or discomfort will be felt with these swellings which could be blamed for different conditions.

The dramatic changes will occur in the energy and stamina levels. The tiredness and general fatigue felt will be unexplainable and worrying. If exercises are done during this period, it may give a little boost of energy that men usually conclude that the fatigue felt was due to work-related stress.

Statistics shows that there are more men infected with the HIV virus than women. If, despite the alarming initial signs and symptoms, the infected individual does not undergo HIV testing, outwardly he may look healthy but the virus inside is already busy attacking the immune system. A long asymptomatic period usually occurs after the flu-like symptoms appear which could make the infected person think that it was just a passing infection that has already been overcome.

The sad part comes when the untreated disease now progresses to the last stage and becomes full-blown AIDS. This time around, it’s too late to do something about it. AIDS has almost eliminated the immune system which is open to all types of infections even the most harmless ones like the common cold.

Unexplained recurring bouts of diarrhea and nausea will rapidly deplete weight, fever, and joint pains will also be manifested. Extreme fatigue will attack the body and some dormant diseases will now be activated such as certain types of cancers, kidney, and liver problems. The flu-like symptoms are the body’s final defense against the attack of the virus.

Getting an HIV test should be made a requirement for every annual health check-up ensure good health not only for you but also for your partner. The key and emphasis should always be on safe sex which is by using protective barriers such as a condom. If you are manifesting early onset of the disease, the best way is to seek medical help and have yourself tested.

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What is HIV Positive?

by admin July 24, 2015

The long incubation period has earned the HIV/AIDS disease the sobriquet of being called the ‘silent epidemic’. It is because an individual could be infected with the disease for many years without showing any signs and symptoms. It is precisely why an infected person can infect another person since he or she is not aware that he or she has HIV/AIDS.

There are different phases that can divide the infection of HIV. The phases may be different from each other but in most cases, discerning their differences could be difficult. The various complications that may take place in the immune system of a person are determined by the state of health of the infected individual.

The benefit of antiretroviral therapy which allows an infected individual to live for a lot of years has categorized HIV/AIDS as a chronic disease. The symptoms of HIV/AIDS are very difficult to

determine, but there are common ones that usually appear to individuals infected by HIV/AIDS:

  • Dementia
  • Oral thrush caused by a yeast infection called Candida albicans
  • A rare form of skin cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma
  • Recurring Herpes infections
  • Lymphoma
  • Fever with no known cause
  • Mycobacterium avium infection
  • Dry persistent cough
  • Tuberculosis
  • Diarrhea
  • Gut or retinal cytomegalovirus infection
  • Unexplained Weight loss. Once the immune system has been affected, infected individuals lose weight as the disease progresses.
  • Pneumocystis pneumonia
  • Extreme fatigue. Affected immune systems bring on extreme fatigue to most patients afflicted with the HIV/AIDS infection.
  • Cerebral toxoplasmosis
  • Skin infections that are bacterial in nature
  • Night sweats
  • Major complications due to the entry of opportunistic infections even from normally harmless ones

The infected individual may deceive everyone as he or she may look and remain in the best health for a long period without showing any symptoms even when the virus inside the body is already devastating his or her immune system. This is why HIV/AIDS is viewed by the medical group as a very deceiving and traitorous disease. It is also the reason why early diagnosis is difficult to make. There are numerous cases when it is at the terminal stage when patients can be accurately diagnosed which by this time the damage to the immune system is already very extensive that not even a partial treatment can repair it.

With the characterization that the HIV/AIDS has, it is extremely important for the public to be aware of it and the ways to prevent being infected with it. The traitorous nature of the infection where an individual is not even aware that he or she is already infected is the very thing that makes HIV/AIDS highly contagious and difficult to contain. Information of the disease needs to be widely spread more so to third world countries where the infection is most rampant.

In the light of the devastating effects that an HIV/AIDS could do to the immune system of a human body, the best way that this could be prevented from getting infected is to be vigilant at all times.

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Cure for AIDS

by admin July 24, 2015

Researchers feel that they are going in the right direction in their quest for curing HIV/AIDS. There is a case where two babies, born with the HIV infection and treated, lived for a couple of years without showing the presence of the virus.

Yet, one of them has the HIV virus again.

It could be concluded that the treatment was able to get rid of the virus even for a short period, can make a change in the outcome of the treatment for recently infected people.

The usual norm taken for babies suspected of having the HIV virus is a medication program that could stop the virus. However, in the event that there are two positive tests, the medications are changed to ones that are meant to treat HIV. These would be safer for the babies to use as they would be more than two weeks old.

But then doctors could also take different treatment programs. 30 hours after birth a baby born in Mississippi was given treatment while in California, another baby only 4 hours old was also treated.

After a year, the baby from California is still free from HIV. For over two years, the baby from Mississippi was HIV-negative but recently has been shown to be positive again. It seems that after the baby reached 18 months, the mother decided to stop her medications.

The methods that were used on these newly-born babies were a plan that scientists hoped would stop the HIV from forming or totally eliminate the HIV virus that hides in the body.

A professor from the infectious diseases department at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says that the results were not something new. He states further that it leads support to the view that the HIV cells hides in a reservoir in the body and does not go away. He also said that a cure could only happen if this reservoir is eradicated.

Whether this is a breakthrough or a setback only one thing can be concluded from the test that was done on the babies. It proves the theory right that the earlier an HIV-infected person submits to an HIV test and receive treatment, the better health outcome it will give to him or her.

However, the downside to this theory are the infected people who rarely know that they have the disease since signs and symptoms only appear two weeks to a month after infection. It was fine to do with the babies as they were already monitored and tested as soon as their mothers gave birth to them.

What doctors now recommend is for STD testing to be made a requirement for physical health check-ups or for sexually active adults to submit to tests every three to six months.

The thing that holds most adults from having an STD test is the stigma that they face once they go to testing centers. The loss of privacy is their main concern. Yet, as one doctor in an HIV clinic always advise the health care professionals if someone gets a positive HIV test: to ask questions later but start the treatment right away.

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Can HIV Be Cured?

by admin July 24, 2015

HIV Eradication is the goal name from the numerous research findings that brings closer a cure for HIV/AIDS. Zinc finger nucleases or ZFNs and gene therapy are the explored avenues to find out if people infected with AIDS can be cured. A patient with the AIDS virus was deemed cured of the infection when a bone marrow transplant was received from a donor that had a chromosomal deletion resistant to HIV. It is this idea that has encouraged the pursuit of gene therapy as a means to a cure. It is hoped by medical practitioners that even if the gene therapy cannot completely eradicate AIDS, the disease can be stabilized to a certain point where the infected individual doesn’t have to be dependent on medicines.

As in the case of ZFN, it is seen as a disruption process in the CD4 cells’ co-receptor of the HIV virus which will stop it from infecting the cells. The following hypothesis should be answered by the research in their attempt to use ZFN: Will modifying the CD4 cells of an HIV patient lead to future HIV-resistant cells? This particular avenue has interested researchers because of the presence of actual people who have immunity towards HIV. It has been discovered that around 2% of those having a lineage from Northern Europe display a CCR5 receptor gene deletion that has made most of them almost immune to infection from an HIV virus.

To test this theory out, donor cells were taken from a person with this unique genetic mutation and used as a stem cell transplant to an HIV patient that was also sick with leukemia. A stem cell transplant is the usual procedure for patients that are sick with leukemia, but it was the HIV of this particular patient that interest was focused on. It was successfully done because that stem cell transplant cured that HIV positive patient of the infection. After several years, the patient was tested again and still showed to be free from HIV. This astounding discovery never made it big. Only a handful of people know about this medical miracle.

The most remarkable breakthrough in the field of science is the HIV gene therapy that can eventually lead to a functional cure to an HIV infection very soon. The exploration of a unique genetic mutation possessed by a tiny population in the entire world which can finally pave the way for an HIV cure that could totally eradicate this deadly virus would be the greatest news for all mankind.

Yet, despite this wonderful news that gives hope to millions of HIV positive people, more tests, experiments, and research has to be done before it could be declared safe, reliable, and affordable to all afflicted people coming from all walks of life. Research and tests do not come cheap and the only thing that could stop this promising breakthrough, the first to happen in a long quest for an HIV cure would be the needed funding. It will be an opportunity lost if financial support for this is not forthcoming.

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AIDS Symptoms in Men

by admin July 24, 2015

When an HIV infection is far advanced, it progresses to AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, a phase where the immune system cannot protect the body from invasions of cancer or other infections. It could take a few months or ten years or more for an HIV disease to progress to AIDS.

HIV/AIDS has no cure, but a retroviral therapy could prevent the HIV virus from replicating which could be described as the latency period.

Some men may display symptoms, but most are asymptomatic. This is the main reason for the widespread infection as men would be unaware that they carry the virus. Symptoms may appear from two weeks to three months after a person becomes infected and they may manifest the following:

  • Night sweats
  • Rashes on the stomach, arms, face, and legs
  • Vomiting brought about by nausea
  • Sore throat
  • Joint pains and muscle aches
  • Swollen lymph glands in the neck, groin, and armpits
  • Painful headaches
  • Ulcers in the genital area or mouth
  • Fever

After the flu-like symptoms comes the latency period. This is the time when men will feel perfectly fine and may even look and act healthy. If the infected person is still untested and untreated, the latency period will be the time the HIV virus replicates until extensive damage is done to the immune system.

When this happens, the HIV now progresses to full-blown AIDS and these will be the symptoms that infected men will experience:

  • Rapid loss of weight
  • Symptoms of other diseases and infections
  • Swollen lymph glands in the groin area, neck, and armpits
  • A Persistent cough with shortness of breath
  • Distorted or blurred vision
  • Extreme and unexplained fatigue
  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
  • Bumps, skin rashes, and lesions on the tongue
  • Night sweats, fever, and chills

It has been noted that the key to a longer life span is early treatment. Fighting off the HIV virus at the early onset will give men a better chance of survival. Studies have shown that a near-normal life could be possible even when diagnosed of HIV. The start of a treatment can give the immune system a bigger chance to fight off the HIV virus before it gets compromised. Early treatment is also the key to containing the infection as men are now aware that they have the infection and take the necessary steps to stop contaminating other uninfected partners.

Yet, the treatment could not be started if an HIV test is not taken to confirm the diagnosis. A research done in 2008 found that only about half of the men who consulted a doctor following symptoms experienced were correctly diagnosed. The other half was informed that they probably had something else and were only recommended for an HIV test after they went back two or three times to the doctor.

The scenario shows a deplorable state of missed opportunity for the men to have themselves tested as soon as possible. There are cases where men who became acquired late testing progressed to AIDS after a year of being diagnosed with HIV.

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HIV Symptoms : What To Look Out For

by admin July 10, 2015

The body’s immune system is the main target of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV and, if not timely diagnosed and treated, it can be life-threatening.

The cells in the individual’s immune system are gradually attacked by HIV which gives him/her low resistance to infections. A person is termed as ‘HIV positive’ as soon as he or she is diagnosed with HIV. Continuous and lifetime treatment is needed for a person found to have HIV which can be fatal if left untreated.

AIDS will be the diagnosis when HIV has weakened an individual’s immune system. This is because the CD4 count or white blood cells of the individual goes to levels below 200. When this happens, it is mandatory that the individual acquire antiretroviral therapy as by this time a severe damage has happened to the immune system.

A treatment can only be started when a person is sure that he or she has HIV. HIV could not be diagnosed right off as its signs and symptoms are similar to other infections that even a doctor cannot detect it. A person may show signs and symptoms of flu and may not even know that he or she already has HIV. This makes it doubly hard to pinpoint HIV when a person becomes sick. On the brighter side, tested HIV does not mean that your life is over. When treatment is followed there is a good chance that it will not become full-blown AIDS.

There are ways to check for HIV and one of them is the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, better known as ELISA where samples of urine, saliva, and blood are taken from the patient. The effective times the test could be done to a patient are between 2 to 12 weeks after he or she has become infected. The way it can be determined that the person is HIV positive is the different kind of antibodies that they produce which could not be found in antibodies of people who do not have HIV.

Another test that could be done is called the Rapid HIV test which is done by a finger prick and where the blood sample taken could be given an antibody count. After a period between 20 to 30 minutes, results could be given and the clinic is the usual setting for this kind of test. Yet, Rapid HIV test should be backed by the Western Blot to confirm the diagnosis.

The most common tests done to a suspected HIV individual is the Western Blot. This type of test is a secondary confirmation and uses electrophoresis in laboratory setting.

It can’t be emphasized enough that body fluids are the gateway of the HIV virus. An HIV- infected person can immediately infect another individual through unprotected sex, sharing of needles, breast milk, and a blood transfusion from an infected blood.

If you suspect yourself or a loved one to have contracted HIV, the only way to find out is to have body fluids testing. This could spell the difference between life and death.

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HIV And AIDS: The Deadly Duo

by admin July 10, 2015

Everyone seems to know something HIV and AIDS but this deadly duo does not seem to wake up people to see the serious effect it will have should an epidemic happen. Maybe the epidemic has happened or is still happening if you see the statistics of more than 25 million infected children and adults in sub-Saharan Africa and the 1 million that is in the United States.

AIDS stands for Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome and breaking it down would be represented like this:

o   Acquired means that there’s a good chance you will get it.

o   Immunodeficiency means that the immune system is deficient to combat the disease.

o   Syndrome means the signs and symptoms that are inherent in the disease.

The virus that causes AIDS is called Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV. The minute you acquire HIV, your body will automatically start defending itself by producing antibodies. The presence of these antibodies is the basis for the blood test for HIV. The immune system becomes weaker as HIV progresses and even smaller viruses that are never allowed entry in your body when it was healthy before now have their chance to even make you sicker.

Here are the ways that can get you infected with HIV:

o   Unsafe sex

o   Sharing of needles with an individual infected with HIV

o   Born from an HIV- infected mother

o   Having a blood transfusion using blood infected with HIV

The early symptoms of HIV would be like coming down with the flu. Your weakened state gives the virus the time to multiply while destroying your immune system which would make recovery an almost impossible feat. HIV will later bloom to AIDS where this time, the infected individual no longer has the immune system to fight them off. AIDS could not be cured. The newly discovered drugs are simply to reduce the rampaging effects of HIV to the immune system.

Protected sex

The transference of HIV from one body to another is through body fluids and blood.

Unprotected sex stands a bigger chance of acquiring and spreading HIV. The moist and soft membranes of the body such as the tip of the penis, the inner portion of the rectum, nose, vagina or mouth will allow the HIV to enter through its sexual fluids and blood.

Using condoms is very important to stop infected body fluids or blood to enter a healthy body. Bleeding gums, cuts or sores are things to be considered as they are open portals to the body. The use of lubricants may be sexually stimulating, but it can also make latex barriers and condom ineffective against infection.

There is also a great degree of risk in HIV transference during oral sex. When there are sores, bleeding or mouth ulcers, it is another passageway for infected body fluids to enter an uninfected body. The best barrier in oral sex would be condoms that do not have lubricants. Still, the best way to stay healthy is to have a single uninfected partner.

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