21 Oct Stem Cell Therapy Showing Promising Results in HIV Patients
HIV is a well-known sexually transmitted disease that can severely impact a patient’s quality of life if left untreated. Without the proper treatment, HIV may eventually develop into AIDS, which is a life-threatening version of the condition. It weakens the immune system of infected patients, leaving them open to the threat of other infections. These other infections are more likely to cause death than the disease itself. There is no cure for HIV, but there are medications to control its progression and prevent it from transitioning to AIDS. Stem cell therapy is being considered as a treatment option because of its ability to help with other autoimmune disorders.
What is HIV?
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS, is a chronic and potentially life-threatening condition caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to fight the organisms that can cause other diseases. HIV is a sexually transmitted infection. It can also be spread by contact with infected blood or from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breast-feeding. Without medication, it may take years before HIV weakens your immune system to the point that you have AIDS. There’s no cure for HIV/AIDS, but there are medications that can dramatically slow the progression of the disease.
These drugs have reduced AIDS deaths in many developed nations. The symptoms of HIV and AIDS vary, depending on the phase of infection. In the earliest stage, most people infected by HIV develop a flu-like illness within a month or two after the virus enters the body. This illness, known as primary or acute HIV infection, may last for a few weeks. These symptoms can be so mild that you might not even notice them. However, the amount of virus in your bloodstream, called the viral load, is quite high at this time. As a result, the infection spreads more easily during primary infection than during the next stage, referred to as chronic HIV.
In some people, persistent swelling of lymph nodes occurs during this stage. Otherwise, there are no specific signs and symptoms. HIV remains in the body and in infected white blood cells. This stage of HIV infection generally lasts around ten years if you’re not receiving antiretroviral therapy. But sometimes, even with this treatment, it lasts for decades.
Some people develop more severe disease much sooner. As the virus continues to multiply and destroy your immune cells, you may develop mild infections or chronic signs and symptoms such as a fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea, and weight loss. Thanks to better antiviral treatments, most people with HIV in the U.S. today don’t develop AIDS. Untreated, HIV typically turns into AIDS in about ten years. When AIDS occurs, your immune system has been severely damaged. You’ll be more likely to develop opportunistic infections or opportunistic cancers, which are diseases that would not usually infect a patient with a healthy immune system. These patients are considered extremely immunocompromised and need to take precautions in their daily life.
How Can Stem Cell Therapy Help HIV Patients?
Several recent well-documented studies have shown that stem cells can replace a patient’s damaged white blood cells with ones that are HIV-resistant. These patients were able to eliminate the disease from their bodies entirely. While this is not the case for all individuals, it may eventually be used to eradicate HIV-infected white blood cells. More research must be done before it is an approved treatment for the general public.