6 Factors Determining HIV Progression to AIDS
The HIV virus cannot easily progress to AIDS unless there are special factors that will determine its progression. Here they are:
Generally, health and nutrition are inseparable as poor health leads to malnutrition while malnutrition leads to poor health. Therefore, poor health (if accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea) predispose one to malabsorption of nutrients. This leads to loss of weight and sometimes emancipation – a symptom shared between HIV and malnutrition.
Nevertheless, poor water intake can lead to poor health hence largely affect a PLWHA.
Well, inadequate water intake can lower your physical and mental performance, affect your salivary gland function and thereby leading you to dehydration. Also this can lead you to problems such as kidney stones and urinary tract infections (in women mostly).
All these are factors that are favourable to the HIV virus in progressing one to AIDS as the immune system is put under pressure! By the way, the drinking water must be of quality…and that is why I decided to write another topic on How Water Quality Affects Your Health.
2. HIV Type
- HIV-1: Predominantly found in Sub-Saharan Africa. It has many sub-types. A to K – This strain is very aggressive, it’s prone to imitation and easily develops resistance to drugs.
- HIV-2 : So far, no sub-types have been isolated. It’s predominantly found in West Africa and Europe. It’s less aggressive, less prone to imitation and less resistant to drugs.
Young children are more likely to progress to AIDS status than adults. This is because their immune system is underdeveloped and immature.
4. Opportunistic infections
AIDS defining illnesses are responsible for death. These illnesses take advantage of the weakened immune system e.g. Tuberculosis (TB), certain cancers including Kaposis Sarcoma, oesophageal candidiasis and many more. They take advantage of their opportunity. A weakened immune system predispose one to opportunistic infections while continuous exposure to infections weakens the immunity.
5. Viral load
The higher the viral load, the faster the progression. Blood has the highest concentration of HIV among all the body fluids therefore, infection with blood exposes one to a high viral load as compared to infection with milk or seminal or vaginal fluids.
6. Social Support
As a matter of fact, PLWHA need a lot of social support. Lack of social support fuels the progression of HIV/AIDS. Behaviors like drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana/cigarettes tend to be adapted so as to destigmatise or “relieve” themselves. That is why, although more women than men are infected with the virus, women tend to live longer while men succumb to death faster.
As health care professionals/caregivers, we are supposed to counsel PLWHA on the importance of good nutrition including drinking enough water. In addition, practising safer sexual intercourse as well as drug adherence lowers viral load (attaining viral suppression). Home based care should be introduced, be active in our homes whatever the type of HIV or health condition a family member has. Let us teach our PLWHA life skills as part of social support.
More resources for you: