Treatment for AIDS covers four considerations:
- TREATMENT OF OPPORTUNISTIC INFECTIONS AND MALIGNANCIES.
Most AIDS patients require complex long-term treatment with medications for infectious diseases. This treatment is often complicated by the development of resistance in the disease organisms. AIDS related malignancies in the central nervous system are usually treated with radiation therapy. Cancers elsewhere in the body are treated with chemotherapy.
- PROPHYLACTIC TREATMENT FOR OPPORTUNISTIC INFECTIONS.
Prophylactic treatment is treatment that is given to prevent disease. AIDS patients with a history of Pneumocystis pneumonia; with CD4+ counts below 200 cells/mm3 or 14% of lymphocytes; weight loss; or thrush should be given prophylactic medications. The three drugs given are trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, dapsone, or pentamidine in aerosol form.
- ANTI-RETROVIRAL TREATMENT.
In recent years researchers have developed drugs that suppress HIV replication, as distinct from treating its effects on the body. These drugs fall into three classes:
- Nucleoside analogues.
These drugs work by interfering with the action of HIV reverse transcriptase inside infected cells, thus ending the virus’ replication process. These drugs include zidovudine (sometimes called azidothymidine or AZT), didanosine (ddI), zalcitabine (ddC), stavudine (d4T), lamivudine (3TC), and abacavir (ABC).
- Protease inhibitors.
Protease inhibitors can be effective against HIV strains that have developed resistance to nucleoside analogues, and are often used in combination with them. These compounds include saquinavir, ritonavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, amprenavir, and lopinavir.
- Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. This is a new class of antiretroviral agents. Three are available, nevirapine, which was approved first, delavirdine and efavirin.
Treatment guidelines for these agents are in constant change as new medications are developed and introduced. Two principles currently guide doctors in working out drug regimens for AIDS patients: using combinations of drugs rather than one medication alone; and basing treatment decisions on the results of the patient’s viral load tests.
- Nucleoside analogues.
- STIMULATION OF BLOOD CELL PRODUCTION.
Because many patients with AIDS suffer from abnormally low levels of both red and white blood cells, they may be given medications to stimulate blood cell production. Epoetin alfa (erythropoietin) may be given to anemic patients. Patients with low white blood cell counts may be given filgrastim or sargramostim.
Treatment in women
Treatment of pregnant women with HIV is particularly important in that anti-retroviral therapy has been shown to reduce transmission to the infant by 65%.
Alternative treatments for AIDS can be grouped into two categories: those intended to help the immune system and those aimed at pain control. Treatments that may enhance the function of the immune system include Chinese herbal medicine and western herbal medicine, macrobiotic and other special diets, guided imagery and creative visualization, homeopathy, and vitamin therapy. Pain control therapies include hydrotherapy, reiki, acupuncture, meditation, chiropractic treatments, and therapeutic massage. Alternative therapies can also be used to help with side effects of the medications used in the treatment of AIDS.
No Hiv, No Aids on January 26th 2007