Thursday, December 3, 2009

Surviving AIDS

This is another essay that I had to write for school, and thought that I would share it here.

Uncontrolled Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is fatal, however I learned that it can be controlled. This is relatively difficult to do, and there is still much research on the topic. Myself, being more familiar with the symptoms and effect of AIDS as a result of HIV on the human body, I am intrigued to learn about how the virus operates inside the human body, initially, and long term.

The way that it was described, how the virus attaches to cells at their receptors, first to the CD4 receptor, and second to the CCR5, allowing the virus to invade the cell, deposit RNA and reproduce, brings to mind the ways of a parasitic illness. Targeting the cells in the body that are usually meant to protect, it turns the cells into its ally and it then begins to attack the body that it lives within, hence the name Immune Deficiency.

Having a natural bent toward natural and preventive health care, I am far more intrigued by how the body's natural defense has the capability of fighting off the invasion of the virus. While the virus may still be present within the body, if the CD4 Helper T Cells can get a foothold on the situation, and engage the CD8 Killer Cells, the body can prevent the invading virus from multiplying and taking over. Only 5% of the HIV population seems to have the natural ability to defend against the invasion, but through studying this phenomenon, scientists and physicians have made discoveries about early detection and aggressive early treatments.

In some cases there is a gene missing in the patient’s chromosomes. This missing gene is responsible for making the receptors on the leukocytes. If just one of those receptors is missing, the virus cannot attach, and therefore cannot penetrate the cell and plant it’s RNA. This gives the Helper T Cells the necessary time to generate the CD8 Killer cells to action.

In other cases, both receptors are intact, but for reasons not yet clearly identified, the Helper Cells here able to activate the killer cells, and hold the full invasion at bay.

While the body does not seem to be able to completely rid itself of the presence of the virus, the body certainly can keep it’s numbers so low that it is barely detectable, and render it primarily harmless in the body. This does not however, mean that this person is no longer contagious! In fact, it is well known that the HIV virus can be carried and transmitted by those that show no symptoms at all, so being in a state of what one might call remission, does not make one safe from transmitting the disease to another person. I also imagine that also, if ones immune system were to be compromised in some other manner, then the already present virus might have an opportunity to take hold.

For more information on this, please click the title to be taken to the PBS NOVA web page.

In all things, be healthy, and wise about your safety, and health care!