The Spread Of HIV And The Immune System

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HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus, a serious virus that spreads through the body and attacks the immune system. The virus specifically attacks the T cells (CD4 cells) of the body. This making it so the immune system is no longer able to fight off infections and diseases as the amount of T cells decreases to an amount below the average 700 to 1500 cells/mm. (Center for Disease Control, 2015, para. 1) Once the body loses so many T cells and damages the immune system so much, the HIV infection will progress to immunodeficiency syndrome, AIDS. HIV is a fast acting infection. If a person does not receive treatment immediately after being contracted, the illness will progress rapidly through the three stages of the virus. (Center of Disease …show more content…
However, it is possible to still live a healthier, longer life now compared to years ago due to the use of antiretroviral treatment. Without medication, a person will progress rapidly through all three stages of the virus, eventually turning into AIDS. All of the medications available will, in one way or another, prevent the virus from multiplying and attacking T cells, thus preventing further damage to the immune system until it can no longer fight off any infections or diseases. (AIDS) Also, treating the virus with medication will greatly reduce the risk of transmitting the disease to another person, because there is a lower level of HIV in the body. (Center for Disease Control, 2015, para. 3) But, treatment adherence is important to maintain, as it can be a source of treatment failure. (Boyd, 2010, para. 27) This means that a person on an HIV medication regimen cannot miss dosages or take them late, even if it is only once or twice. (AIDSmeds editorial team, 2015, para. 1) If treatment adherence is not maintained, drug resistance to the medications prescribed can occur. The goal of the treatment regimen is to stop the replication of the virus and keep the viral load (amount of HIV in the body) as low as possible; to prevent further progression of the virus and the higher chance of transmitting the disease to others. By missing pills or not taking the medication exactly how it is prescribed, the infected individual is risking having a mutated, drug resistant virus produced and progressing their infection. That is why careful consideration is used when choosing the medications to use for treatment. A person considering what medication will work best for them and how to maintain treatment adherence should consider things such as if their schedule changes frequently, eating schedule, how well they are able to swallow pills, side effects that may be too much to handle, and other medications prescribed to them. (AIDSmeds editorial team,

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