December 1 observed as World AIDS Day cluster together the people from all over the world to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and encourage progress in HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment, care in high prevalent countries and around the world. As in 2011, the same logo or theme is observed “Getting to Zero: Zero New HIV infection, Zero discrimination, Zero AIDS related death”.
HIV otherwise called Human Immuno-deficiency Virus, is a RNA virus belonging to human retroviruses. Retrovirus reverse the normal unidirectional flow of genetic material, reverse transcriptase, which transfers viral RNA into DNA. Caused by unprotected sex, infected needles, blood transfusion, organ transplant, contaminated hospital equipment, in uterus from mother to foetus, or after birth through infected milk. Usually a patient in primary stage does’nt have any symptoms for several years. HIV virus attacks CD4, a type of T cells responsible to maintain a healthy immune system. Normally CD4 count ranges from 500–1,000 cells/mm^3. After primary infection the virus passes from circulation to lymphoid organs where replication occurs. The acute or Asymptomatic phase may last for about 10 years when patient doesn’t manifest any symptoms and look healthy. During this phase CD4 declination may progress at a rate of 60 cells/mm^3/year. Some patients may manifest mild flu like symptoms initially for several weeks. When CD4 cells declines and ranges between 200-500 cells/mm^3, symptoms like oral candidiasis, Herpes infection, Fever, Chillness, Night sweats, Skin Rashes, Tiredness, Weakness, Weight loss, Apthous ulcers, Peridic or intermittent fever, chronic diarrhoea etc. HIV when left untreated, CD4 cells declines below 200 cells/mm^3, immune deficiency becomes severe and patient develops symptoms of AIDS (Acquired Immnuno-deficiency Syndrome) like Encephalitis, Meningitis, Retinitis, Pneumocystis, Pneumonia, Skin cancer, Oesophagitis, Chronic diarrhoea etc which may be fatal. People have various concepts regarding spread of HIV/AIDS. Prevention awareness has not yet successfully made people know the myths and misconceptions regarding spread of HIV/AIDS. AIDS/HIV cannot get transmitted through shaking hands, hugging, kissing, sneezing, casual contact, sharing foods etc.
If a person is diagnosed HIV positive in blood test, he is subjected to various other blood test to access the immune and other criteria especially CD4 and viral load. Maintaining the viral load levels as low as possible for as long as possible decreases the complications of HIV disease, slows the progression from HIV infection to AIDS, and prolongs life. HIV viral load tests are reported as the number of HIV copies in a milliliter (copies/mL) of blood. During treatment and monitoring, a high viral load can be anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 copies/mL. A low viral load is usually between 40 to 500 copies/mL which indicates that HIV is not actively reproducing and that the risk of disease progression is low.
Siddha Medicine & Treatment for HIV/AIDS :
Siddhars were emminet souls who gifted humankind with this wonderful medical system or way of life- Siddha. About 4448 diseases are classified and mentioned in Siddha literature. Amazingly even so many decades back, HIV/AIDS is classified under the disease Vettai noi. The signs and symptoms, causative factors and treatment are mentioned in detail.
Properties of few herbs in treatment of HIV is mentioned below
- Withania somnifera/ Ammukura/ Aswagandha : The roots of this medicinal herb is medicinal. It improves immunity, reduces fatigue and tiredness. It also helps in reducing the viral load.
- Phyllanthus amarus (Keezhanelli) : This herb blocks reverse transcriptase enzyme, inhibits HIV infection to spread and decreases the viral load.
- Glycyrrhiza glabra/Indian Liquorice : A chemical Glycyrrhizin posses inhibitory effect on HIV replication and also has interferon inducing and natural killer enhancing effects. Raises CD4 cells in HIV patients.
- Phyllanthus emblica/Nellikkai/Amla : Restricts HIV virus growth and provides protection against AIDS.
- Cyprus rotundus/ Korai kizhangu : The roots are medicinal, improves immunity and increases CD4 count in HIV patients.
- Alpinia galanga/ Rasna/ Chittarathai : 1′ S – 1′- acetoxychavicol acetate isolated from Alpinia galanga inhibits human immunodeficiency virus type 1 replication by blocking Rev transport.
Siddha Medicines like Ammukura Choornam, Rasagendhi mezhugu, Athimathuram preparations, Serankottai preparations, Nellikkai Preparations etc are very helpful in restoring immunity and inhibiting replication. Symptomatic treatment according to the condition can also be given. Siddha Medicines have proven great results in treatment of HIV. Early diagnosis and treatment may prolong life span and manage the symptoms successfully. Along with a very good prognosis, Siddha medicines are less expensive and devoid of side effects when compared to Anti-Retroviral medicines used in modern medicine.