HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is the virus that infects and destroys CD4 cells resulting in AIDS. CD4 cells are apart of the body's immune system, HIV causes the body to lose CD4 cells. After losing too many CD4 cells, the immune system becomes weak and the patient is then at risk of getting AIDS-related infections. Currently there is no HIV vaccine available; however once the virus is contracted treatments are available to help block HIV from multiplying. HIV drug treatments taken properly by people living with HIV can prolong healthiness and improve quality of life.
HIV drugs are grouped into five classes specific to a certain stage of the virus a person is experiencing. These drugs include: entry inhibitors, integrase inhibitors, nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors, non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and Protease inhibitors.
HIV drug treatments may cause side effects, which can make a patient not want to take medicines properly or even stop treatment. But patients stopping HIV treatments or skipping doses can experience serious problems. Possible problems include worsening and multiplying HIV, a reduction level of medicine in the bloodstream and the potential of the virus to change into a new HIV strain.
The most common side effects of HIV medicine for men and women are fatigue, rash, diarrhea, dry mouth, headache, hair loss, nausea and weight loss.
Some side effects are specific and more prevalent in women than men, such as lipodystrphoy, anemia, menstrual irregularities, bone problems and acidosis.
The rate of mother-to-child HIV transmission has been reduced significantly through the advancements of HIV treatments. HIV drugs are recommended for all pregnant women and should be taken as prescribed to achieve the best result. However, certain HIV drugs like Sustiva combined with other drugs like d4T and ddI pose a potential danger for a mother and baby during pregnancy.
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