Thursday, October 9, 2014

HIV, AIDS, and Life....

Just in case you are REALLY interested.....

Here is a little more info on HIV & AIDS. (Yes, I do think it's that fascinating.)

As we have already established, CD4 cells (T-cells) are what helps your body fight infections. So, what should your CD4 count be? Well, here's a chart:

When your CD4 count drops to 200 or below, you are diagnosed as having AIDS. Contrary to popular belief, AIDS isn't a disease for dirty, poor, homosexual, drug using men. That's ridiculous. People with AIDS are not monsters to be scared of. Nor is everybody with AIDS on their death bed. They are JUST people who have a low CD4 count. In fact, if a person is diagnosed with AIDS, then starts taking medicine & gets there CD4 count back up over 500, their diagnosis sticks with them. You can be super healthy and still have AIDS. It's nothing to be ashamed of, although many people are made to feel that way.

(Right now my kids' CD4 count is pretty low. I can't help but wonder how they would be treated if it had been slightly lower, and we told people they had AIDS instead of HIV? While there is a lot of fear surrounding HIV, the mention of AIDS seems to strike terror in many. My hope is that people who read this won't be afraid of AIDS if it is not shrouded in mystery. It just signifies that at any point in their life, a person's CD4 count dropped below 200. That's all.)

Then there is viral load. (The amount of virus in your blood.) The goal is for it to be undetectable. And yes, that is very possible! At this point there is no cure for HIV, but there can be so little of it left in your body that it's 'undetectable'. Once you reach that point, your  immune system is working great, and it's no big deal if you get sick. Your body can fight it off, just like any body else's!

Medication for HIV has come soooo far. What will it look like from here for our girls? Well, they have started their medicine routine. Their CD4 count should start going up. (It usually rises quickly for children.) They will have to be very adherent with their medicine so as not to give the virus a chance to become resistant. (Sometimes people decide that they look and feel great, so they don't need the medicine. This give the virus an opportunity to mutate and become resistant. This would require them to switch medication to something that works. If you consistently stop & start meds, you eventually run out of meds to switch to.) Anyways, their CD4 count will eventually reach normal levels, and they will live normal lives. (Aside from taking daily meds, but that's true for LOTS of people!) Once they get old, their CD4 count will begin to decline (somewhere between 60s -80s). This is a natural occurrence anyways. It's why they suggest older people get the flu shot every year. Because older people have a lower CD4 count, so they can't fight off infections as well.

In general, my girls' lives will look much the same as yours. They won't need to grow up in a bubble. They're not that fragile. They will grow up to see their grandchildren. (Whom, by the way, will be born HIV negative. More on that later.) Yes, they will have more doctor appointments than the average person. But it won't slow them down!

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