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HIV Symptoms. Certain symptoms can arise in people up to a month after being infected with HIV. These can consist of muscular and joint pain, fever, a sore throat, a rash, mouth ulcers, and swollen glands and can persist for up to a month (Bupa, 2011). Additional symptoms will generally not be seen after the primary symptoms have worn off for a long period of time (NHS, 2011).
Symptoms related to AIDS can comprise of blurred vision, constant tiredness, shortness of breath, a dry cough, a long duration fever and swollen glands, night sweats, continuous diarrhoea, unexplained weight loss and white spots on the tongue or in the mouth; pneumonia, tuberculosis and certain cancers can also emerge (NHS, 2011).
Testing for HIV generally involves a HIV antibody test called an 'enzyme immunoassay' test, in which blood or oral fluid samples are tested in a laboratory for HIV antibodies. In a HIV infected patient, the body produces antibodies against the infection which remain in the body and show up in the antibody test. A second test, known as the 'Western blot' test is carried out to verify a positive result arising from the antibody test (Poindexter, 2010).
As HIV antibodies can take time to show in the blood after a person has been infected, there is a possibility of obtaining a false negative result and so HIV testing is usually performed after the first three months of infection (Terrence Higgins Trust).
Polymerase Chain Reaction can be used to calculate the quantity of HIV DNA in newborn babies whose mothers are HIV-positive; an antibody test will give a positive result, whether or not the child is infected with HIV, due to the fact that HIV antibodies are obtained from the mother and remain for up to 18 months. As a result, the Polymerase Chain Reaction process is used as an alternative. (AVERT).
Antiretroviral drugs are used to slow down the development of the HIV infection and cause life expectancy in HIV-positive people to increase by causing a reduction of the viral load in the blood (BNF). Therefore recovery of the immune system is possible (Bupa). A regular viral load and CD4 cell count of the blood is used as a means of establishing whether antiretroviral therapy should be used and if it is working and also the risk of obtaining a disease as a result of a weakened immune system. (Libman et al, 2007). The antiretroviral drugs are combined and taken as a mixture known as 'highly active antiretroviral therapy' in order to reduce resistance of HIV to one particular antiretroviral drug (BNF).
The antiretroviral drugs fall into the following categories: 'nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors', 'protease inhibitors', 'non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors', 'nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors', 'HIV entry and fusion inhibitors', and 'integrase inhibitors' (AHFS Drug Information).
Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that release antibodies and chemicals against viruses or bacteria that are able to cause disease. HIV works by impairing these cells (Ramaiah, 2008 HIV Health solutions) Consequently the immune system deteriorates, increasing the chances of developing serious infections and this can lead to AIDS (clinical pharmacology and drug therapy). AIDS can consist of the person developing a cancer such as 'Kaposi's sarcoma' a serious infection or 'AIDS-related dementia' (AIDS science and society).
Zidovudine is a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor that is used with other antiretroviral drugs as treatment for HIV (Instant Pharmacology); it can also be taken by pregnant women as a means of hindering HIV from passing to the child. (AHFS). As an analogue of thymidine, Zidovudine stops HIV replicating (immunopharmacology). Phosphorylation of Zidovudine occurs in the cells by the enzyme kinase to zidovudine triphosphate, which can act as a competitive substrate for reverse transcriptase. As a result, zidovidine triphosphate is included in the nucleic acid copy of HIV RNA being formed instead of deoxythymidine triphosphate which would usually be part of the chain (instant pharmacology); '5', 3'-phosphodiester' bonds cannot be formed with the presence of zidovudine triphosphate in the chain and, as a consequence, the DNA formation cannot continue. Therefore, the chain is terminated and HIV cannot multiply (Foye's principles of medicinal chemistry).
*NHS Choices. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/HIV/Pages/Symptomspg.aspx. [Accessed 22/02/2011].
*Bupa. Available at: http://www.bupa.co.uk/individuals/health-information/directory/h/aids. [Accessed 22/02/2011].
*Poindexter, C.C. (2010) Handbook of HIV and Social Work: Principles, Practice, and Populations. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Collier, L., Oxford, J. (2006) Human Virology. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press Inc.
*Terrence Higgins Trust. Available at: http://www.tht.org.uk/informationresources/hivandaids/testingforhiv/. [Accessed 22/02/2011].
*Avert. Available at: http://www.avert.org/testing.htm. [Accessed 22/02/2011].
*Libman, H., Makadon, H.J. (2007) HIV. 3rd ed. United States of America: American College of Physicians.
Joint Formulary Committee (2010) British National Formulary. 59th ed. London: BMJ Group RPS Publishing.
*AHFS Drug Information. Available at: http://www.medicinescomplete.com/mc/ahfs/current/index.htm. [Accessed 22/02/2011].
Ramaiah, S. (2008) HIV/AIDS: Health Solutions. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
*Fan, H.Y., Conner, R.F., Villarreal, L.P. (2011) AIDS: Science and Society. 6th ed. Sudbury Massachusetts: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
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*Saeb-Parsy, K., Assomull, R.G., Khan, F.Z., Saeb-Parsy, K., Kelly, E. (1999) Instant Pharmacology. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
*Khan, M.M. (2008) Immunopharmacology. New York: Springer Science & Business Media.
*Foye, W.O., Lemke, T.L., Williams, D. A. (2008) Foye's Principles Of Medicinal Chemistry. 6th ed. United States of America: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.