Available Treatments for HIV Patients

Although there is no cure for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, treatment is still a necessary step to prolong the life of an infected individual. Before a treatment regimen is recommended, however, the individual has to undergo HIV testing at one of the clinics or hospitals in Singapore or perform an anonymous HIV test using a test kit available at pharmacies.

HIV Testing as a Primary Step

HIV screening will determine the progress of the virus so that appropriate medication can relieve some of the symptoms, if there are any. There are various methods for HIV testing in Singapore, but most can be categorized into three types; testing for HIV antibodies, testing for HIV antigens, and a combination of the two tests.

The first and succeeding HIV screenings should be performed within a three-month window period from the time of the infection. Why does an individual need more than one HIV test? That is because the virus or the antibodies for the virus might not show up in the sample during the first HIV testing. If an individual tested negative (not infected) the first time, the test must be repeated to confirm the results. There are also rare cases where the initial result was positive (HIV-infected), but the second test revealed that it was false.

The individual might need additional testing for sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) as well, because a co-infection is also highly probable. Additional tests and confidential human immunodeficiency virus check in Singapore will also be needed to determine if the HIV-positive person also has an opportunistic illness (OI), or an infection other than STDs that has taken advantage of the weakened immune system.

How HIV is Treated

The goals of HIV treatment are to slow down the progress of the virus, prevent the spread of the infection, and to prevent symptoms from reducing the quality of life of the individual. Therefore, HIV treatment involves not just one type of medication, but other types of treatment that make up an HIV regimen.

• Antiretroviral Therapy (ART)

All HIV-positive individuals need ART as soon as possible regardless of the CD4 cell count, because it can be highly effective during the early stages of HIV. ART refers to the combination of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs that will act to stop the progression of the disease by suppressing the actions of the virus itself. ART will not kill the virus, but it’s possible to slow the down the destruction of the CD4 cells and the replication of the virus. This will give the immune system a chance to recover and still be able to fight off infections and HIV-related cancers.

• HIV Drug Classes

ARV drugs included in the therapy are divided into six classes based on how they affect the life cycle of HIV. A typical HIV regimen will include 3 HIV medicines and an additional 2 or more drug classes. Therefore, even if you have already confirmed that you are HIV-positive, your doctor will tell you to keep monitoring your condition through scheduled HIV testing.

The six classes of HIV drugs are as follows:

1. Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs) will block the virus’s reverse transcriptase proteins that it needs to make copies of itself.

2. Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs) will bind and disable the reverse transcriptase proteins in the virus.

3. Protease Inhibitors (PIs) will inhibit an enzyme from the virus that is needed for replication.

4. Fusion and Entry Inhibitors will stop the virus from entering the CD4 cells.

5. Pharmacokinetic Enhancers will act as booster of another HIV medication.

6. Integrase Strand Transfer Inhibitors (NSTIs) will block the enzyme from the virus needed to infect the CD4 cells with its genetic material.

• Common Side Effects

HIV medication have side effects, but the effects vary among patients, that is why you will need to collaborate with your doctor to come up with the best HIV regimen. You should also take note of possible drug interactions among HIV medicines and HIV drugs with other vitamins, supplements, and herbal products. It is possible for any one of the non-HIV medication to reduce the effect of HIV drugs, so always consult the doctor before trying other products.

• Possible Drug Resistance

HIV can mutate as it slowly takes over your immune system, that is why drug resistance is a huge threat. As a result, some strains of HIV may not be affected by your current medication. Such a risk, however, can be avoided if you strictly follow your HIV regimen and you undergo drug-resistance testing to identify which medicines will not work anymore.

Treating Infants and Children with HIV

Newborns of HIV-positive mothers will need postpartum ARV drugs; specifically, infant ARV prophylaxis should be administered within 6 to 12 hours after birth, while the four-week neonatal zidovudine prophylaxis regimen is given for full-term babies if the mother has received ART during pregnancy. For babies whose mothers did not receive the same ARV drugs, a combination infant prophylaxis regimen is advisable. Premature babies on the other hand, will need either nevirapine (or prophylaxis) or zidovudine (or treatment and prophylaxis).

For babies and children older than 14 days, the dosage of HIV drugs (such as zidovudine, maraviroc, and raltegravir) will depend on the weight. That means the dosage and type of HIV drugs will change as the child grows.

Myths about Heart Disease in Women Debunked

Are you completely aware of your risk for heart disease? Well, you should be. Every woman have at least one risk factor of the said disease – diabetes, high blood pressure, lack of physical activity, high cholesterol, obesity or smoking – and yet a lot of them are misinformed about their risk of developing a heart disease, as well as the dangers it brings. Don’t be among those women by raising your awareness and busting the common myths about heart disease among women.

Myth 1: More women are diagnosed with breast cancer than heart disease.

Cardiovascular disease (stroke and heart attack) kills more women yearly and is deadlier than all forms of cancer combined. Breast cancer is a perceived higher risk, but it’s not really true. According to a study conducted by some health experts in Singapore, heart disease kills seven times more than breast cancer – one in 31 women die from breast cancer, but one in every three deaths is caused by heart disease. Roughly, that’s one death per minute.

Myth 2: Heart disease only affects older women.

While it’s true that the symptoms and diagnosis of heart disease are more prevalent during a woman’s menopausal years, a group of cardiologist in Singapore explained that having blood pressure problems and higher body fat also puts younger women at risk of the disease.

Fortunately, there are two instances in a woman’s life that allows her to increase her awareness on the disease. The first time is during her pregnancy period. Women who develop preeclampsia or gestational diabetes are often subjected to certain lifestyle modifications that can impact their heart disease risk later on. The second opportunity is at their menopausal stage where they visit their doctor because of signs and symptoms, thus making way for a new health discussion and examination to be done.

Myth 3: The symptoms of heart attack are the same in men and women.

The common symptoms of heart attack, such as pain in the chest, arm, jaw or throat, are quite common in both men and women. However, non-chest pain like shortness of breath and fatigue are more common among women than in men. In fact, these symptoms occur in 38 percent of women and are usually related with stress and emotion.

A group of cardiologist in Singapore also found that women often associate these symptoms with other causes (age and busy schedules at work and at home) and don’t realize that they might already be at risk for heart attack. So if you ever notice changes like not having enough breath or energy to perform your usual activities, consider it as a sign of heart trouble and bring it to your doctor’s attention as soon as possible.

Myth 4: You are off limits from the gym if you have been diagnosed with heart disease.

Contrary to what you may believe, men and women diagnosed with heart disease are in fact encouraged to exercise regularly to prevent the disease from getting worse. However, before starting a more active lifestyle, ensure that your harley cardiac doctor from Singapore has given you the go signal to do so. Health experts in Singapore emphasize that you should only workout once you have been assessed by a doctor. If you’re taking the right heart disease medications and you can manage your condition, then you can exercise.

Myth 5: If it is common in your family to have heart disease, then you will develop it later on in life.

Fortunately, this belief is only a myth. By just following the risk factor guidelines provided by your Singapore cardiologist, eating a proper diet, exercising regularly and quitting smoking, you’ll be able to reduce the risk of heart attack. Adopting a healthy lifestyle will significantly reduce the risk even if the disease runs in the family.

Myth 6: Women who are physically fit won’t develop heart disease.

Even if you consider yourself as a workout fiend, your risk of developing heart disease won’t be completely eliminated. Factors like eating habits, smoking and cholesterol levels can counterbalance your other healthy habits. You can be thin and still have high cholesterol levels. This is why health experts recommend getting your cholesterol checked as soon as you reach 20 years old – or earlier if your family has a history of developing heart disease. While you’re at it, make sure to also keep an eye on your blood pressure during your next check-up.

Myth 7: Using birth control pills won’t affect your heart disease risk.

Using oral contraceptives won’t raise the risk for heart disease for most women, but for a small part of the population, taking birth control pills increases their chance of developing blood clots and experiencing heart attack. If you’re over 40 years old and is living an unhealthy lifestyle, then using oral contraceptives might dramatically increase your chances of having a heart attack.

Myth 8: You won’t have the disease since you’re not experiencing any of its symptoms.

Did you know that 64 percent of women who die of coronary heart disease did not experience any symptoms before they were diagnosed with the disease? Since these symptoms greatly vary between men and women, they are often misunderstood. Our minds have been conditioned that the tell-tale sign of heart attack is feeling extreme pain in the chest. In reality, however, women are more prone to symptoms like vomiting, shortness of breath and jaw or back pains. Other signs that women should look out for include light-headedness, extreme fatigue and pain in the upper abdomen or lower chest.

If you ever experience any of the said symptoms, do visit your Singapore cardiologist as soon as possible and inform him or her about what you’re experiencing.

Being informed about heart disease and knowing your risk factors is what will give you the opportunity to keep yourself heart-healthy. So ensure that you keep the aforementioned information in mind and that you get regular check-ups from your heart specialist.