Scientists have identified three ways that HIV infections spread: sexual intercourse with an infected person, contact with contaminated blood, and transmission from an infected mother to her child before or during birth or through breast-feeding. Related articles HIV/AIDS in Africa (egrejeen.wordpress.com) … Continue reading
In June the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the marketing of a genetically engineered form of erythropoietin (EPO) for use in treating anemia in patients with severe kidney disease. EPO is a hormone produced in the kidney that stimulates the growth of red blood cells. The new drug, epoetin alfa (sold under the name Epogen), was expected to benefit many of the more than 90,000 people in the United States who regularly undergo dialysis to remove toxic chemicals from their blood because their kidneys have failed. Dialysis destroys red blood cells, making the patients anemic. Also, many dialysis patients require frequent transfusions, which lead to a toxic buildup of iron (from destroyed red cells) in their blood; EPO should ease that problem.
Later in June the FDA gave limited approval for another use of EPO. The drug was authorized as an ‘investigational new drug for treatment,’ for use in people with AIDS who suffer from anemia, either from the virus that causes the disease or because they are taking zidovudine (previously called AZT) to control the disease’s progression. Zidovudine kills red blood cells, and EPO helps to replace them.
Alkaloids is a group of mildly alkaline compounds, mostly of plant origin and of moderate molecular complexity. Even in very small amounts, the alkaloids produce strong physiological effects on the body. All contain nitrogen atoms that are structurally related to those of ammonia.
Nearly 3000 alkaloids have been recorded; the first to be prepared synthetically (1886) was one of the simplest, called coniine, or 2-propyl piperidine, C5H10NC3H7. It is highly poisonous; less than 0.2 g (0.007 oz) is fatal. Coniine, obtained from seeds of the hemlock, was the poison used in the execution of Socrates. Some 30 of the known alkaloids are used in medicine. For example, atropine, obtained from belladonna, causes dilation of the pupils; morphine is a painkiller; quinine is a specific remedy for malaria; nicotine is a potent insecticide; and reserpine is a valuable tranquilizer.
This article “Food Poisoning” uses Medicine in 1988 as reference. People already wary about eating cholesterol-laden eggs have more reason to worry. An April report said that Grade A eggs were a major cause of Salmonella poisoning in the northeastern United States. Between January 1985 and May 1987, researchers found 65 Salmonella outbreaks in the Northeast, affecting 2,119 people and killing 11 of them. Grade A eggs were to blame in 77 percent of the cases. Chickens often have Salmonella in their intestines, which can contaminate eggs before the shell is formed; eggs with broken shells can be contaminated by infected droppings. In September officials reported finding Salmonella outbreaks outside the Northeast and attributed them to uncracked eggs infected during ovulation. Researchers’ best advice: stick to well-done eggs—and never eat them raw. The above article “Food Poisoning” uses Medicine in 1988 as reference.
- Medicine in 1988: Lyme disease (egrejeen.wordpress.com)
Symptoms of AIDS: Opportunistic Infections are those infections that affect a person whose immune system has been seriously weakened by the AIDS disease. If CD4 cell levels drop below 200 cells per micro-liter of blood, the late symptomatic phase develops. This phase is characterized by the appearance of any of the opportunistic infections and rare cancers known as AIDS-defining conditions. The onset of these illnesses is a sign that an HIV-infected person has developed full-blown AIDS. Without medical treatment, this stage may last from several months to years. The cumulative effects of these illnesses usually cause death.
Often the first opportunistic infection to develop is pneumocystis pneumonia, a lung infection caused by the fungus Pneumocystis carinii. This fungus infects most people in childhood, settling harmlessly in the lungs where it is prevented from causing disease by the immune system. But once the immune system becomes weakened, the fungus can block the lungs from delivering sufficient oxygen to the blood. The lack of oxygen leads to severe shortness of breath accompanied by fever and a dry cough.
In addition to pneumocystis pneumonia, people with AIDS often develop other fungal infections. Up to 23 percent of people with AIDS become infected with fungi from the genus Cryptococcus, which cause meningitis, inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain. Infection by the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum affects up to 10 percent of people with AIDS, causing general weight loss, fever, and respiratory complications.
Tuberculosis, a severe lung infection caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, typically becomes more severe in AIDS patients than in those with a healthy immune system. Between the 1950s and the late 1980s, tuberculosis was practically eradicated in North America. In the early 1990s, doctors became alarmed when incidence of the disease dramatically escalated. This resurgence was attributed to the increased susceptibility to tuberculosis of people infected with HIV. Infection by the bacterium Mycobacterium avium can cause fever, anemia, and diarrhea. Bacterial infections of the gastrointestinal tract contribute to wasting syndrome.
Opportunistic infections caused by viruses, especially members of the herpes-virus family, are common in people with AIDS. One of the herpes-viruses, cytomegalovirus (CMV), infects the retina of the eye and can result in blindness. Another herpes-virus, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), may cause certain types of blood cancers. Infections with herpes simplex virus (HSV) types 1 or 2 may result in sores around the mouth, genital area, or anus.
Many people with AIDS develop cancers. The destruction of CD4 cells impairs the immune functions that halt the development of cancer. Kaposi’s sarcoma is a cancer of blood vessels caused by a herpes-virus. This cancer produces purple lesions on the skin, which can spread to internal organs and cause death. B cell lymphoma affects certain cells of the lymphatic system that fight infection and perform other vital functions. Cervical cancer is more common in HIV-infected women than in women free from infection.
A variety of neurological disorders are common in the later stage of AIDS. Collectively called HIV-associated dementia, they develop when HIV or another microbial organism infects the brain. The infection produces degeneration of intellectual processes such as memory and, sometimes, problems with movement and coordination. Symptoms of AIDS: Opportunistic Infections seem to affect their victims so easily with little or no form of resistance.
Support Mechanisms for HIV Patients are intended to eliminate where necessary all forms of stigmatization and ensure that patients are fully supported to stay alive. A person diagnosed with HIV infection faces many challenges, including choosing the best course of treatment, paying for health care, and providing for the needs of children in the family while ill. In addition to these practical considerations, people with HIV infection must cope with the emotional toll associated with the diagnosis of a potentially fatal illness. The social stigma that continues to surround a diagnosis of AIDS because of the disease’s prevalence among gay men or drug users causes many people to avoid telling family or friends about their illness. People with AIDS often feel incredibly lonely as they try to cope with a devastating illness on their own. Loneliness, anxiety, fear, anger, and other emotions often require as much attention as the medical illnesses common to HIV infection.
Since the AIDS epidemic began in the United States in 1981, grassroots organizations have been created to meet the medical and emotional needs of people who have AIDS and also to protect their civil rights. The Gay Men’s Health Crisis, founded in 1982, was the first nonprofit organization to provide medical, education, and advocacy services for people with AIDS. The Los Angeles Shanti Group was established in 1983 to provide emotional support and medical guidance to people with AIDS and other life-threatening illnesses. Activist organizations such as the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), founded in 1986, have been created to initiate faster change in public policies and to speed up the course of AIDS clinical research. American Foundation for AIDS Research (AMFAR), created in 1985, is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to the support of AIDS research and the advocacy of fair and compassionate AIDS-related public policies. In Canada, the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) was established in 1983 by community activists, intent on fighting for the civil rights of people infected with HIV. As the AIDS epidemic grew, ACT expanded its mission to help people disabled by the disease and to spread health information to halt the spread of the disease. AIDS Vancouver (AV), also established in 1983, became the principal education, prevention, and support service organization for that city.
Counseling centers and churches provide individual or group counseling to help people with HIV infection or AIDS share their feelings, problems, and coping mechanisms with others. Family counseling can address the emotions of other family members who are disturbed by the diagnosis of HIV infection in another family member. Grief counseling also helps people who have lost friends or family members to AIDS.
In the United States and Canada, government-funded and privately funded organizations help people cope with disease. For instance, local, city-funded clinics provide AIDS testing as well as counseling to prepare people for a test result that indicates HIV infection. Health experts at clinics explain the medical progression of the illness, arrange medical appointments with health-care specialists, and help people choose appropriate treatment options. State-appointed social workers and community nonprofit organizations help people find federally funded programs that offset the high cost of medical care and child care.
The United States Congress has passed legislation to help HIV-infected individuals. In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted, protecting people with disabling diseases, including AIDS, from discrimination in activities such as applying for jobs or buying a house. The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act was established in 1990 and reauthorized in 1996. This program provides medical and dental care, counseling, transportation, and home and hospice care for low-income or uninsured people living with AIDS. The AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) is funded in large part by this act and administered by all 50 states. It pays for costly AIDS medications for people who do not have private insurance and who are not poor enough to be eligible for Medicaid. Support Mechanisms for HIV Patients would generally vary from country to country and while some governments provide the much needed support others continue to lag behind.
The Symptoms of AIDS is one that produces multiple effects on its victims. Without medical intervention, AIDS progresses along a typical course. Within one to three weeks after infection with HIV, most people experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever, sore throat, headache, skin rash, tender lymph nodes, and a vague feeling of discomfort. These symptoms last one to four weeks. During this phase, known as acute retroviral syndrome, HIV reproduces rapidly in the blood. The virus circulates in the blood throughout the body, particularly concentrating in organs of the lymphatic system.
The normal immune defenses against viral infections eventually activate to battle HIV in the body, reducing but not eliminating HIV in the blood. Infected individuals typically enter a prolonged asymptomatic phase, a symptom-free period that can last ten years or more. While persons who have HIV may remain in good health during this period, HIV continues to replicate, progressively destroying the immune system. Often an infected person remains unaware that he or she carries HIV and unknowingly transmits the virus to others during this phase of the infection.
When HIV infection reduces the number of CD4 cells from around 500 to 200 per micro-liter of blood, the infected individual enters an early symptomatic phase that may last a few months to several years. HIV-infected persons in this stage may experience a variety of symptoms that are not life-threatening but may be debilitating. These symptoms include extensive weight loss and fatigue (wasting syndrome), periodic fever, recurring diarrhea, and thrush, a fungal mouth infection. An early symptom of HIV infection in women is a recurring vaginal yeast infection. Unlike earlier stages of the disease, in this early symptomatic phase the symptoms that develop are severe enough to cause people to seek medical treatment. Many may first learn of their infection in this phase. The Symptoms of AIDS does not show all at once but progresses gradually until it reaches an acute state where an individual’s defenses have been destroyed so that it manifests fully.
The Symptoms of AIDS in Children spreads faster because of their low level immune system. HIV infection in children progresses more rapidly than in adults, most likely because a child’s immune system has not yet built up immunity to many infectious agents. The disease is particularly aggressive in infants—more than half of infants born with an HIV infection die before age two. Once a child is infected, the child’s undeveloped immune system cannot prevent the virus from multiplying quickly in the blood, and the disease progresses rapidly. In contrast, when an adult becomes infected with HIV, the adult’s immune system generally fights the infection. Therefore, HIV levels in adults remain lower for an extended period, delaying the progression of the disease.
Children develop many of the opportunistic infections that befall adults but also exhibit symptoms not observed in older patients. Among infants and children, HIV infection produces wasting syndrome and slows growth (generally referred to as failure to thrive). HIV typically infects a child’s brain early in the course of the disease, impairing intellectual development and coordination skills. While HIV can infect the brains of adults, it usually does so toward the later stages of the disease and produces different symptoms.
Children show a susceptibility to more bacterial and viral infections than adults. More than 20 percent of HIV-infected children develop serious, recurring bacterial infections, including meningitis and pneumonia. Some HIV-infected children suffer from repeated bouts of viral infections, such as chicken pox. Healthy children generally develop immunity to these viral illnesses after an initial infection. The Symptoms of AIDS in Children has over the years prompted a number of research groups to initiate safe delivery procedures for pregnant mothers so that infants do not get the disease.
Antiretroviral Therapies: Post-Exposure Prevention is one topic that has often times been misunderstood in some quarters. Studies show that under certain circumstances, administering antiretroviral drugs within 24 hours (preferably within one to two hours) after exposure to HIV can protect a person from becoming infected with the virus. Although the effectiveness of post-exposure antiretroviral therapy following sexual exposure to HIV remains uncertain, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that health-care personnel exposed to HIV infection from a needle stick or other accident take antiretroviral drugs.
Antiretroviral Therapies with particular reference to Post-Exposure Prevention indicates the need for preventive measures to be adopted in medical procedures.