Known as Acquired
Immune Deficiency Syndrome AIDS occurs after the immune system has been destroyed by HIV
HIV attacks the immune
system by killing off the white blood cells in the blood known as the T-Cells. It is these
cells that signal to the bodys defence system when an invasion of bacteria or
viruses has occurred. As a result the body produces anti-bodies which attack and destroy
harmful bacteria and viruses.
AIDS patients are
vulnerable to infections and cancers and it is these infections and cancers which cause
death. HIV changes the structure of the cells it attacks.
The following are common
symptoms to look for-
Swollen lymph nodes.
Fevers that lasts more
than 10 days.
Unexplained weight loss.
Purplish or discoloured
lesions on skin that do not go away.
Persistent, unexplained cough or sore throat.
Shortness of breath.
Persistent colds, diarrhoea, yeast infections
Easy bruising or bleeding that cannot be explained.
A diagnosis of AIDS should
not be taken as an immediate death sentence. With proper care the AIDS sufferer may stave
off the worst symptoms and live a productive life for many years.
Acquired immune deficiency
syndrome (AIDS) is not a single disease in itself. Rather, a severely impaired immune
system leaves the AIDS sufferer highly susceptible to a whole host of infections and
diseases. AIDS is thought to be caused by the human immune deficiency virus (HIV), which
is spread through infected semen, vaginal fluids, and blood. Contrary to popular belief,
AIDS is not a highly contagious disease. The only way you can get it is to have
unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected partner or to share tainted blood
through IV-drug use or transfusions.
At greatest risk for AIDS
are people who have sex without using condoms and infants born to AIDS-infected mothers.
Also at great risk are male and female intravenous-drug users who share needles, and
people who received blood transfusions or clotting factors between 1977 and 1985, prior to
the establishment of standard AIDS screening of donated blood.
You also need not worry
about catching AIDS if you live with someone who has it. HIV cannot be transmitted by
toilet seats or objects handled by people who have AIDS.
If you feel you have
contracted the virus you should have a test as soon as possible. Within a few weeks of
infection, your body should be producing antibodies to the virus, which your doctor can
detect in blood tests. However, your body may take as long as 35 months to produce a
detectable level of antibodies, so if you think you've been infected, particularly if
you're in a high-risk group, you should be tested for the disease every 6 months.
It is extremely important
that you notify your sexual partners of your diagnosis. They too must be tested and
Almost everyone who
develops full-blown AIDS eventually succumbs to the disease, but antibiotic and antiviral
drugs can prolong life for several years. In any event, you should never try to treat
yourself for this life-threatening illness:
Always seek the advice of
a qualified practitioner. And beware of claims made for "miracle" cures. They
simply don't exist.
Currently there are several
hundred human studies to test drugs for the treatment of AIDS and related conditions.
These include antiviral drugs, drugs that modify the immune system, anti-infective drugs,
and anti-cancer drugs.
Although a number of
vaccines to prevent AIDS are under investigation, scientists have had difficulty finding
one that works.
Combined with medical
treatment, many alternative therapies have been successful in improving the patients
quality of life. By law, alternative therapists are not permitted to treat AIDS/HIV
Although, if you have the
support of your doctor, these remedies may be of benefit in relieving some of the
symptoms. AIDS patients have responded well to nutritional programs aimed at improving
their immune system function. Also any program which aims to relax the patient and
decrease stress has been beneficial.
Again, beware of any
treatment that claims to be a "miracle" cure.
Mimulus (for fear of
illness or death,
Sweet Chestnut (for
Pine (for guilt),
Willow (for resentment).
Chinese herbs help to boost
the immune system. However it is vital to see a professional and fully qualified
practitioner. Some suggested herbs are -
As well as
Aloe vera (juice consumed orally),
the minerals Zinc and Germanium,
the vitamin A derivative - Beta Carotene,
Coenzyme Q10 can often
As well as this you may
want to investigate the benefits of taking extra Vitamin A and B12 and C.
However, always speak with your doctor as Vitamin A can be toxic in high doses.
Heat therapy - raising
the bodys temperature above normal levels - with medical supervision may help
control the HIV virus.
Mind/body work with a
psychologist or counsellor
Also Yoga and meditation
may be of benefit
Try joining a support
Also some ideas to help
yourself at home:-
balanced meals to bolster your immune system.
take vitamin supplements
such as the ones mentioned above.
try acupressure exercises
take up meditation or
yoga to relieve stress.
try to maintain a
follow a moderate
exercise program approved by your doctor.
try inhaling or bathing
with oils of tea tree and garlic.
ask a knowledgeable
practitioner about herbs such as St.-John's-wort.
When to seek
further professional advice
If you have more than one
of the symptoms listed in the description section of this condition or if you think you
may have contracted the disease.