Effects of Using "Cocktails" to Treat HIV/AIDS

Published: 28th June 2009
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When you hear the word cocktail, the first thing that usually comes into your mind is a drink that is served together with appetizers. Well, in the world of HIV/AIDS, cocktails refer to HAART or Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy. Since 1995, the number of yearly deaths caused by AIDS has dropped considerably, thanks to HAART.

It was only in the early 1980's when HIV was identified. Back then, the virus was treated with a few drugs. Since the condition is accompanied by certain infections, researchers tried to address the opportunistic infections as well. The patients benefited from such drugs and they were able to live longer. However, you must be aware that there is no cure for HIV/AIDS. Most of the drugs are expensive and the patient can suffer from severe side effects. There have also been cases of drug resistance especially among patients who have used the drugs for about twenty years. With the number of infected patients increasing every year, researchers are trying to develop newer and more effective drugs.

Doctors are very cautious about giving medications to infected patients. In the US, the Department of Health and Human Services provides recommendations for employing anti-retroviral drugs that are based upon the latest information available and they also regularly updated refine such recommendations.

Current guidelines to treating HIV/AIDS are focused on maximum symptom suppression. This approach is called "cocktails" or the HAART. The therapy aims to reduce the virus that is already present in the blood of patients to an extremely low or non-detectable level. However, the virus can't be eliminated completely. For therapy, medical professionals recommend the use of three or more medications.

The guidelines also emphasize the value of the patient's life. A patient should, therefore, be provided with a very simple but strong treatment regimen that has the least side effects. If you're one of the patients, you need to be active in making decisions about your treatment. You need to be strong and determined. By consulting a medical professional, you will know the benefits and risks of such therapies.

Here are the possible effects of the cocktails:

1. Nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors - decreases the red/white blood cells in your body due to the suppression of the bone marrow; there can also be rash, fatigue, nausea, fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting

2. Protease inhibitors - you can experience side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, and problems of the digestive tract; problems with sugar metabolism and high levels of triglycerides.

3. Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors - rash, worsening of mood disorders

4. Nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors - the effects include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and gas.

As you may have noticed the side effects of the drugs for treating HIV/AIDS are almost the same. Other treatments not included in the list are fusion inhibitors, integrase inhibitors, and chemokine co-receptor inhibitors. These drugs also have similar side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Measuring the viral load is necessary to ensure the efficacy of such drugs. If you want to undergo HAART, you need to be prepared for the side effects.

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