What is AIDS?
The acronym – AIDS – stands for:
- Acquired: implies that you get it from an external source
- Immune: meaning that one is protected from certain infections
- Deficiency: depleted, impaired functioning, weakening
- Syndrome: constellation of symptoms, signs or diseases
What are the clinical features of AIDS?
- Drop in CD4 and T-cells and with progressive symptoms of HIV disease.
- Drop in workload and household chores due to severe malaise.
- The development of various cancers, especially those caused by viruses such as Kaposi’s sarcoma and cervical cancers. Kaposi’s sarcoma in light-skinned people is round brown, reddish or purple spots that develop on the skin or in the mouth. In dark-skinned clients the spots are more pigmented.
- The development of cancers of the immune system known as lymphomas (more aggressive to treat in clients with AIDS).
- Persistent coughing and shortness of breath.
- Difficult and painful swallowing.
- Seizures and lack of coordination.
- Mental symptoms such as confusion and forgetfulness.
- Persistent fever.
- Severe and persistent diarrhea.
- Vision loss.
- Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and muscle cramps.
- Weight loss and extreme fatigue.
- Severe headaches.
For some, they may experience phases of intense life-threatening illness followed by phases in which they function normally.
How is AIDS managed?
- ARV’s (given when CD4 <200, viral load high)
- Healthy lifestyle:
- Balanced diet, food enriched with Selenium.
- Daily supplements.
- Mild-moderate exercise and enough rest.
- Protect yourself from getting cold – a reduction in body temperature will cause a further drop in immune system, thus making it ideal for opportunistic infections to develop.
- Treatment of opportunistic diseases.
What are opportunistic infections?
Opportunistic infections are infections that enter the body due to a compromised immune system. The common opportunistic infections in AIDS are:
- Tuberculosis (TB);
- Recurrent fungal infection of the skin and Oral Candida;
- Unexplained fever;
- Frequent diarrhoea resulting in weight loss;
- Skin diseases and other diseases such as cancers.