HIV Treatment Guidelines Today And In The Future

HIV Treatment Guidelined - Check ListHIV treatment guidelines change almost annually to include more and more people. as HIV spreads, it becomes more and more important to raise awareness and treat those infected as soon as possible. those?are the best ways to prevent and reduce HIV spreading. Generally, every country has its own HIV treatment guidelines, but there are international guidelines to base those on.?HIV treatment guidelines in the united states can be found here. As for the rest of the world – read on.

HIV Treatment Guidelines Today

HIV Treatment Guidelines - DoctorAccording to the World Health Organization’s HIV treatment guidelines, people with a cd4 cell count below 500 (that’s the normal range’s bottom) are eligible for HAART. before June 2013, the guidelines stated the cd4 count needs to be below 350, and before 2010 it was 200, which is the point a person is considered to have full-blown AIDS. A cd4 count below 200 means the person is extremely sensitive and at high risk of fatal infections. Many scientists recommend that patients will begin HAART immediately upon diagnosis. This should greatly decrease patients rate of infections and also enable them longer and healthier lives because they wouldn’t have to wait for the ?immune system to deteriorate before being eligible for treatment. In some cases patients may be able to safely stop treatment after one to two years. Some subgroups are eligible for treatment immediately upon a positive HIV test result. These subgroups include: children under 5 years-old, People with active Hepatitis B or Tuberculosis, people whose regular sex partners are not infected with HIV, pregnant or breast-feeding women and more. The new guidelines also recommend taking daily pill containing three drugs: Efavirenz, Tenofovir and Lamivudine or Emtricitabine, because it’s the most effective treatment with the least side effects. There are other possibilities, though.

The Future Of HIV Treatment Guideliens

HIV Treatment Guidelines - DeloreanAs time progresses, HIV treatment guidelines become increasingly inclusive. It’s very probable that in the future, treatment will begin right upon diagnosis. Hopefully, soon there will be a cure. There are teams constantly racing towards this aim. There are discoveries constantly being made. Two men with HIV underwent stem cell transplants due to blood cancer. They are now believed to be cured of HIV. Ever since the transplant, they have no more HIV cells in their blood. You can read more about that pleasant surprise?here. There’s also ?Dr.?Ole Schmeltz Søgaard?From Aarhus university in Denmark, whose research team take a novel approach to curing HIV. The drug they’ve created is mass-distributable and is currently undergoing clinical trials. This means that it’s going to be cheap, and it’s already been tested on animals, and is now being tested on humans. With any luck, it will be available in a few years. I’ll expand on their research in my next article about HIV. You will find it, along with my other HIV articles, here.

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Itay “SHPECK” Rijensky

HIV Treatment Cost And Kinds – The Days Before The Cure

Welcome back!

In the previous articles in this series I covered HIV Transmission, HIV tests and viral development phases. On this one I’ll explain HIV treatment cost and kinds today.

HIV Treatment Cost

Monthly regimens for?HIV treatment?cost between $2,000 and $5,000 ??a lot of it of it for drugs. Medical insurance will pay for this, for those who have it. Those who don’t have to pay for it themselves. The problem is, a lot of people who get HIV can’t afford such high expenses. That’s what AIDS Drug Assistance Programs (ADAPs) are for. ADAPs help people with very low-income and assets to?buy HIV medications. The budgets of these programs are very high (Currently around two billion dollars)?and on a constant rise. For example, on July 2012, the Obama administration invested an extra 76 million Dollars to eliminate the waiting lists for ADAPs.Unfortunately, the lists just keep growing. On 2014 the budget for these programs is predicted to increase even more.?Every state has its own criteria for who is eligible for its ADAP. Basically, you have to be HIV positive, a resident of the state (U.S. citizenship is optional), earn a very low-income and have very few liquid assets. Bottom line – HIV treatment cost is higher than that of Condoms and fresh needles.

HIV Treatment Kinds

First of all it’s important for me to explain that HIV still has no cure. Today’s treatment merely eliminates the retrovirus cells in the blood. The provirus still remains in the DNA and keeps creating more retrovirus cells.
The treatment is either called HIghly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) or Combination?Antiretroviral Therapy (cART). This treatment consists of five families of drugs:

  • HIV Treatment Cost - Pills IllustrationNon-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) –?HIV needs ?a certain protein to make copies of itself. NNRTI drugs disable that protein. Kind of like tearing a piece of the puzzle, HIV can’t finish the picture. Examples include nevirapine?(Viramune),?efavirenz (Sustiva)?and etravirine?(Intelence).
  • Protease inhibitors (PIs) -?PI drugs stop HIV multiplication using almost the same techniques NNRTIs do. They just disable protease,?another protein HIV needs to make copies of itself. ?Examples include Darunavir (Prezista), Fosamprenavir (Lexiva),?Atazanavir (Reyataz) and Ritonavir (Norvir).
  • Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) –?HIV needs certain ingredients to make copies of itself. NRTI drugs create fake, bad versions of these ingredients. If making a copy of HIV is like making a bowl of cereal, NRTIs put bad milk in the fridge. So when a new HIV cell is created, it would be dead or disfunctioning and thus harmless. Examples include Abacavir (Ziagen), combined Lamivudine/Zidovudine?(Combivir)?and combined?Emtricitabine/Tenofovir (Truvada).
  • Integrase inhibitors -?HIV uses integrase to insert its genetic material into a cd4 cell’s DNA. Integrase inhibitors disable integrase. this prevents the integration of HIV RNA in the attacked cell’s DNA. Metaphorically, integrase inhibitors let HIV keep its nails, but take away its hammer. Examples include Raltegravir (Isentress)?and Elvitegravir.
  • Fusion or entry inhibitors -?There are proteins on the surface of CD4 cells that HIV uses to attach itself. Entry inhibitors glue these doors shut. Unlike all the other drugs that prevent HIV from multiplying well after it entered the cell, fusion or entry inhibitors prevent HIV from ever infiltrating. ?Examples include?Maraviroc (Selzentry)?and?Enfuvirtide (Fuzeon).

These all work very well, but also have side effects.They are not a substitute for protection or precautions. Even though HIV today turning from fatal to chronic thanks to these drugs, they’re not an excuse for not staying safe. Besides, HIV Treatment cost is still very high.

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Itay “SHPECK” Rijensky

What Kind Of HIV Test Should You Take

Welcome back!

In the two previous articles we learned about how HIV is transmitted and what are the symptoms of infection. On this one we’ll see how an HIV infection is diagnosed. The last two turned out to be very long so I’m going to make this one short and to the point.

Tests for HIV and AIDS

There is a number of ways to test a person for HIV and one way alone to test for AIDS. As we already learned, AIDS is a name for the condition caused by the HIV virus, in which there is a density of less than 200 cd4 cells in a square millimetre of blood. Therefore, AIDS is only detectable by a blood test. The presence of the HIV virus can be checked by any of the following methods:

  1. Home HIV Test

    The “Home Access Express Test” is the only FDA approved home HIV test. You can but it at the manufacturer’s?official site?for??40$-50$ a pop, or a pack of two for 70$ – 80$.

  2. Saliva HIV Test

    A cotton swab is rubbed on the inner cheek, put in a vial and sent to the lab. Usually the results are available within three days. This isn’t a very accurate test but it never gives a false negative and it’s noninvasive. That’s why it’s the most preliminary test taken for HIV presence. ?If a saliva test turns out positive it needs to be verified with a blood test.

  3. Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) HIV Test

    if you’re infected with HIV, you’d have antibodies in your blood. ELISA is an antigen-specific test, designed to check for the presence of antibodies in your serum (here’s how it works). It’s a very sensitive test and it even suits the clinical latency stage of AIDS. If it comes out positive, it needs to be verified. It takes some time for your body to manufacture antibodies, so the ELISA test may show a false positive in the first few weeks to few months from infection. If you think you’re infected with HIV despite of the test results, retake the test in three months. Remember that you may still have a high level of the virus in your blood and still may have a high chance of infecting others.

  4. Western Blot HIV Test

    This is the test that is used to verify the ELISA test, it’s the most conclusive HIV test of all. The reason it’s only used after an ELISA test is purely logistic – it’s a very sensitive blood test and it’s more complicated and expensive to perform than the ELISA test.

  5. Viral Load HIV Tests

    there are used after HIV presence is already verified. It measures the amount of HIV in the blood and it’s mostly used to check a patient’s treatment progress. There are three kinds of viral load tests, all working on the same principle. They detect HIV by using DNA sequences that bind specifically to the ones in the retrovirus. The result may vary a bit between those tests, but since there are three it’s easy to get the general idea.

Always use a condom and hopefully, you won’t need any of those.

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Take care.
Itay “SHPECK” Rijensky

HIV Symptoms – 3 Red Lights That Tell You To Get Tested

AIDS symptoms appear relatively late in an HIV infection. The infection usually doesn’t get diagnosed until it’s full-blown AIDS, because HIV affects the body in a very specific way that causes a wide range of problems.
On the first article in this series I explained the basic structure of the HIV virus and its life cycle, how it enters the body and why it’s so difficult to cure. On this article I’ll explain how it affects the body once it’s already inside.

What makes HIV so scary that we make sure to be aware of it and warn our children about it? How can you recognize HIV symptoms and What are they? How to know if you’re infected? And what makes the HIV virus lethal?

These are all important questions that I believe every sexually mature person should know the answer to.

T Helper Lymphocytes
HIV Symptoms - Traffic regulator

T helper Lymphocytes (A.k.a CD4 cells/TH?cells) are part of the body’s immune system. Arguably, they are the most important part of it. They don’t fight infections themselves, but rather activate the body’s defense systems against various pathogens. They act as a foreman to the rest of the immune system ??they regulate the system’s response. Basically, TH?cells direct other cells to kill infected cells and eliminate pathogens. If the TH?cells are incapacitated, the immune system is never called to action and the body does not fight any hostile pathogens. This creates a situation in which even microbes that are usually harmless can cause serious damage. This situation is called “Anergy”, and it basically means that the immune system can’t utilize its antibodies. I won’t elaborate on the biological methods these cells implement or on their course of action and life cycle because it’s extremely long and complicated, and it’s not essential to this subject.

Location Location Location

The HIV virus infects T helper Lymphocytes almost exclusively. The HIV provirus uses the genetic materials in TH?cells to reproduce and create more HIV retrovirus cells. This takes the infected TH?cell out of commission, leaving the immune system unable to respond. The body has a great army of defensive forces ??but they aren’t issued any commands.

A Grim Outcome

HIV Symptoms - Grim ReaperHIV is not lethal. AIDS is not lethal. In a world with no other infections, HIV wouldn’t bother us at all. The problem is that our world is far from sterility and AIDS makes the body vulnerable to even the most trivial pathogens. This means that if a person has AIDS, nothing bad would happen to them. But if someone with AIDS is exposed to, say, a common cold ??that person’s cause of death would be a fatal case of the common cold. That’s what happens when the body’s defense army sleeps through an attack. The body simply cannot defend itself. This is why, when untreated people with AIDS have a life capacity of approximately five years.

How to Diagnose HIV Symptoms

While it’s possible to divide an HIV infection into many sub-phases, HIV infection goes through 3 major periods:

Acute infection (Acute Retroviral Syndrome – ARS)

ARS is the phase in which the virus multiplies and incubates. Mainly, this is the phase in which a person turns from healthy to infected. The HIV virus is using the T helper lymphocytes to multiply, destroying them in the process. This leads to a very steep plunge in the CD4 cell count, so the disease is already diagnosable in this phase, but only by a specific test. ARS has commonly been described as feeling like the “worst flu ever”. This is the manifestation of the immune system’s combat against HIV before it gets suppressed and before arriving to the “Viral Set Point”, which is a stable level of virus presence in the blood. Once reaching the Viral set point CD4 count begins to increase again, but it may not reach its usual, pre-infection level.?ARS phase HIV infection often gets misdiagnosed as Mononucleosis. People who aren’t in high-risk groups usually don’t get tested for HIV upon displaying the symptoms. They usually appear within ten to fourteen days from the day of exposure. Most people have suffered from all of them, separately or combined, at some point in life:

  • HIV Symptoms - FeverFever
  • Sore Throat
  • Rashes
  • Joint Pains
  • Muscle pains
  • Headaches
  • Swollen Lymph nodes
  • Meningitis (Occurs in only about a fifth of the patients and usually heals without complications)

Women may also manifest the following symptoms:

  • Reoccurring vaginal infections caused by candida and without clear etiology (such as taking antibiotics)
  • Reoccurring, large, painful vaginal herpes lesions
  • Pre-malignant transitions in the cervical

Clinical Latency (Asymptomatic\Chronic HIV infection)

HIV Symptoms - UnawareIn the clinical latency phase the subject is just a carrier, and would feel entirely normal. No symptoms would appear at all and he\she may keep maintaining a sexually active lifestyle, infecting other sexual partners. Sadly, most carriers aren’t aware of the disease until phase three, and so they spread it, unknowingly. The only symptoms are a slow and steady decrease in CD4 cells, and in about a tenth of carriers, swollen lymph nodes. However, with the decrease of the CD4 cell count (and the closer it gets to 200 cells/mm3), the following diseases will appear more frequently:

  • Skin Infections
  • Mucus Membrane Infections
  • Epstein??arr virus (EBV)
  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis outbreaks (Rare)

The clinical latency phase usually lasts for to 8 years and longer If untreated. Usually, 50% of carriers will have full-blown AIDS within ten years, 30% will show minor symptoms of Immunodeficiency and 20% will remain carriers. Younger subjects have a higher chance of staying in the clinical latency phase for longer.

AIDS (has two sub-phases)

Aids is the last period and usually the one in which the HIV infection is detected. In the two previous periods, a specific test had to be taken in order to tell if the subject is infected. In this period, HIV infection is complete and the subject now has AIDS, which is detectable by a blood test. A healthy person has a CD4 count of 500-1600 cells per cubic millimeter. If a person has below 200 CD4 cells/mm3, that person will be diagnosed with AIDS. Having so little CD4 cells, the immune system becomes insufficient to protect the body, and the subject becomes vulnerable to opportunistic infections. If untreated, people with Aids have a life expectancy of about three to five years, but if a dangerous opportunistic infection occurs, the subject’s life expectancy dramatically drops to about one year. The final stage of AIDS occurs when the CD4 count goes below 50 cells/mm3. The immunodeficiency becomes so severe that the subject is chronically sick for no apparent reason. The symptoms are systemic and unexplained and may include:

  • Chronic Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Night Sweating
  • Unwanted weight loss

Red Bulbs and Warning Signs – Preceding?HIV Symptoms

HIV Symptoms - Blood test poster

The symptoms of HIV are usually very common, so it would be unwise to go and get tested for HIV every time they appear. However, there are some conditions in which a person should consider getting tested for HIV. Don’t procrastinate, if any of the following symptoms appear in you, go and get tested immediately!

  1. Reoccurring vaginal infections caused by candida and without clear etiology (such as taking antibiotics)
  2. Reoccurring large, painful herpes lesions on the genitalia
  3. Pre-malignant\malignant transitions in the cervical

Unfortunately (or fortunately) men suffer fewer symptoms than women in the early stages of HIV, that’s why they are also harder to diagnose. That’s why people (both men and women) who lead a sexually active lifestyle should go and get tested for HIV periodically.?Even if you don’t show any of those warning lights but afraid you might be infected, get tested asap.? The test is a simple saliva or blood test, it isn’t very painful and it could save you and the people you love a lot of pain, a lot of sadness and some pre-time deaths. You can even order a?test and check yourself at home. If you have undiagnosed HIV and you’re having unprotected sex, then you have caused terrible agony and killed people who love you against your own will, and that’s the worst thing I can think of to find out about yourself.

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Give all the love you can give and keep those who return it safe.
Itay “SHPECK” Rijensky

HIV Transmission Process And 6 Busted Myths About It

Hiv Transmission - HIV Structure

What is AIDS?

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), may finally have a cure.
This has been a sangréal for health scientists around the globe for many years now.
HIV is a retrovirus, and Retroviruses in general are very hard to fight because they create an “all around” kind of infection – from free cells in the bloodstream to strains of virus DNA implanted within the DNA of the infected body. Another problem is that HIV transmission happens all the time, because most of the people who are infected aren’t even aware of it.

How HIV Transmission Works

Here’s the story of how you HIV transmission and most other retroviruses operate. Don’t worry, I’ll sum it up in the end:
A retrovirus cell or cells enter your body and approaches one of the body’s cells, HIV transmission usually occurs in a T helper lymphocyte, other viruses attack other cell types.
The retrovirus cell’s membrane and the body cell’s membrane then connect via a specific receptor, and the contents of the retrovirus cell enters the body cell.
The virus’ cell contains two things by definition – RNA and reverse transcriptase.
RNA is basically an unpaired strain of DNA (single helix) – it contains a genetic code and usually it is used in various processes in any living creature’s body like DNA duplication and bio-messaging.
Reverse transcriptase is an enzyme that builds complementary DNA (cDNA) out of an RNA template.
It’s called reverse transcriptase because commonly, RNA is transcripted from DNA, and not the other way around.
This process of reverse transcription is also the source of the name RETROvirus.
The cDNA is just partial DNA, which is to be implemented within a cell’s genome by an enzyme called Integrase.
Integrase can’t tell the difference between a valid cDNA and a virus’ cDNA, so it implants the virus cDNA in the cell’s nucleus, within the genome, thus creating a provirus.
The cell is now controlled by the virus. I had a professor that described it once as a “zombie slave” cell (yeesssss massstter…..). That’s the most accurate analogy I can think of.
So now that the cell is infected and is obeying the virus’ so-called bidding, it uses its enzymes to re-create the virus’ RNA from the cell’s DNA.
It also creates proteins that are vital to the creation of a new retrovirus.
The two new RNA strains and proteins then move to the surface of the cell, thus creating a new, immature retrovirus.
The new retrovirus slowly gets separated from the cell within a membrane of its own, this process is called “Budding”.
Before the separation finishes, an enzyme called Protease releases the excess proteins – the new retrovirus is now mature and ready for action, so to speak.
Then occurs membrane separation, which sends a new retrovirus in its own membrane out into the bloodstream to infect the DNA of other cells and reproduce itself further.

To sum up the process:

  1. Retrovirus enters bloodstream.
  2. Virus RNA infiltrates a cell.
  3. cell DNA gets infected (provirus).
  4. cell “enslaved” (zombie mode).
  5. new virus RNA and proteins created within the infected cell – a new, immature retrovirus is created.
  6. retrovirus matures and departs into the blood stream to repeat the process on another cell.

so now that we know what a retrovirus does when it gets into the blood stream, lets review the ways that it can get into it in the first place. Retroviruses in general can be transmitted by three means:

  • Cell-to-cell
  • body fluids
  • airborne

Hiv Transmission - Life CycleThe HIV virus is not a very durable to environmental conditions, so it can not be transmitted by air. In fact, it can only survive in specific bodily fluids. Here they are, sorted by HIV prevalence:

  1. Blood (including menstrual blood)
  2. Semen
  3. Vaginal secretions
  4. Breast milk

Although it can survive in all of these fluids, HIV is most common where it’s most comfortable – in the blood. That’s why so many drug junkies have AIDS, sharing needles is one of the most certain ways to get AIDS.

The retrovirus floating through the first injector’s blood stream sticks to the needle, and the excess blood on the needle provides a cosy home for it until the blood stream of the next junkie comes to wash it away.
Unprotected vaginal and anal sex are also high risk practices – many times during intercourse, tiny cuts and sores are manifested on the genitals and/or the rectum and anus. These cuts are so tiny they usually go unnoticed, but they exist and they are big enough for blood to drip through. It is possible that both participants blood will mix directly but even if it doesn’t, the mucous membranes can be directly infected by contact with blood, semen, or vaginal secretions.

HIV can be transmitted by unprotected oral sex, but it’s not as likely. Since the HIV virus can’t survive in saliva, oral sex is considered relatively low-risk. The digestive enzymes in the saliva usually disassemble the retrovirus before it can enter the bloodstream. Unless there is an open wound in the mouth of the performer, it’s highly unlikely to get infected.

Another (terrible) way to get AIDS is from your mom. Yo mama so filthy, ah.. nevermind. Anyway, according to, there is a 10%-20% risk that an HIV positive mother would transmit HIV to her baby during birth. The risk is even higher if the baby is exposed to HIV infected blood or body-fluids in the process, which is more than likely. Another way HIV gets transmitted by mothers to their children is breastfeeding, the breast milk of HIV positive mothers is likely to have some amount of ?HIV virus cells in it.

How HIV Transmission Doesn’t work – MythBusting

  1. From somebody’s saliva – Kissing somebody with HIV or AIDS – HIV does NOT survive in saliva, unless both participants have open wounds on their tounges – there’s no risk. Feel free to pass them a doobie, if that’s what you’re into.
  2. From somebody’s sweat – You can exercise with someone who has HIV or AIDS, play ball together and sweat all over each other. It’s perfectly safe.
  3. Hugging a person with HIV or AIDS is completely safe.
  4. From somebody’s tears – You can hold someone with HIV or AIDS in your arms for comfort and let them cry on your shoulder. It’s what friends do and it’s also perfectly safe.
  5. From somebody’s urine – I’m not going to elaborate on that.
  6. From somebody’s feces – I’m definitely not going to elaborate on that.

    Hiv Transmission - Ribbon

It’s highly unlikely that you would let someone with HIV or AIDS defecate, urinate, cry or sweat all over you for no reason, but in the off-chance that you’d have such contact – you can relax. Besides, AIDS today is a manageable disease. Modern science turned it from lethal to chronic, and hopefully soon, to treatable. A lot of people with HIV and AIDS are in loving relationships and they hug, kiss, cuddle, give and receive love and comfort and have protected sex with their loved ones. It’s really a challenge to get infected with HIV without shooting up drugs with used needles or having unsafe sex. If you worry you might be infected with HIV, go and get tested. There’s even one kind of?HIV test that you can order online and use on yourself at home that has FDA approval.

So what did we have here? use condoms, don’t share needles. You’ll be fine.

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Stay healthy and protected.
Itay “SHPECK” Rijensky