HIV drug treatment in South Africa
DR Simon Dryden
London Metropolitan University
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The topic of this research paper is “HIV drug treatment in South Africa”. Beside preventive measure, there are a number of treatments that are being used by the health care institutions to fight against HIV. Drug treatment is considered to be an effective treatment among all the HIV treatment being carried out in South Africa. This research papers will discuss the significant drugs used to cure the symptoms of HIV. This literature review presented in the paper focus on finding significant data regarding effective HIV drug used for treating the patients of HIV. It also highlights the side effects of these drugs and mention ways of making the HIV drug treatment as safe as possible.
HIV is an important health concern as about a million of people are infected annually by this pandemic. Africa is disproportionately bearing the weight of HIV/AIDS epidemic. The population of Africa forms 11 percent of the world’s total population and about 67 percent of the people infected by HIV are living in Africa. About 22.4 million population of Africa is infected by HIV virus and about 1.9 million new HIV cases were reported in the year 2008. About 10 million African children lost their parent because of HIV, in the last year.
The countries located in the north of Africa have the lower prevalence HIV rate. However according to statistics South Africa is the worst HIV affected part of this continent. About 10 percent of the population of Zambia, Swaziland, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana and Zimbabwe, is affected by HIV virus. In the sub- Saharan part of Africa the HIV patients acquire half of the beds present at any hospitals. Health care professionals have been highly affected by this pandemic. In the years 1990-2005 about 17 percent of the health work force was lost because of this killer virus.
In response to this major health risk a number of initiatives have been taken to educate the population of Africa, in order to reduce the potential risk of HIV. In 2013, a special report was issued by UNAINDS. According to this report the number of people receiving anti-retroviral treatment in the current year is seven times more than the patient receiving treatment five years back.
Education is the main source by the help of which develop Africa fight against HIV/AIDS. There are several institutions that offer training to the individuals to eliminate the misconception about HIV this help them to make informed decision related to their health.
There are several programs being offered in Africa one of which is “sensitization program”. This program helps in spreading awareness related to the cause, symptoms and treatment of HIV. This program also support research that later on help in reducing the number of new HIV infections found. The other significant aim of this program is to correct the misconception of people regarding HIV.
Although the cure of HIV has not been found but there are enough treatments present that support people in living long and productive life with the HIV virus. There are varieties of treatment related research that goes on, in order to finding a cure or ways through which the effects of HIV can be eradicated or simply minimized. Drug Trials, HIV clinical research, developing treatment guidelines and HIV best practices, and creating and implementing treatment that would stop new HIV infections are some of the clinical practice being carried out by medical researchers.
Significance of the topic
This research topic has been the focus of attention of about thousands of researchers. This topic is quite significant as it is directly related to the health of the people of South Africa or the world as a whole. HIV has been the reason of immense suffering in South Africa. Some of the most obvious effects of HIV include illness and death. The impact of HIV has not been restricted to health sector but it has also affected other areas such as household, workplace, educational institutions and economies.
The affects if HIV on households has been very severe in the last few. Household are considered to be the poorest section of the society; thus it is most vulnerable to the harmful effects of HIV. In severe cases HIV causes this feeble institution of the society to dissolve because as the parents die, their children are sent to orphanages or relatives for support and upbringing. Before HIV dissolves this institution of society, it strips families of their assets as most of the family’s income is spent on the expenditure related to treatment.
Older people are also at the same exposed risk as middle age or young ones. It is difficult not to overemphasize on the hardships and trauma that the orphans face, after losing their parent to this pandemic. As the parents or the elder members of the family become affected by the disease; the responsibility of earning is then passed to the children, who then have to earn their living, prepare food and look after their family. The number of children been orphaned because of HIV is more in South Africa than any other place in the world; therefore it is important to study the topic and find the treatment that can be effective for the South African population in the war against HIV.
Objective of Research
The main objective of this research is:
• To reduce the legal, economic, social and political barriers that makes the population of South Africa vulnerable to HIV virus.
• To increase the access of the people of South Asia to treatment, care and support.
• To increase the access of people to the intervention, in order to get prevention against HIV by the help of different programs.
The data for this research will be collected through secondary sources by reviewing different research papers on related topics. Other sources of data collection involve journals, books and website. The research methodology involves the analysis of the existing data collected from reliable source. An effective conclusion will then be drawn based on the findings of this research.
The cure of HIV has not been found; however in South Africa a variety of drugs in combination are used to treat the patients affected by HIV. Some medications have been effective enough to disable the ability of HIV to replicate itself. Each class of anti HIV drugs has the ability to block HIV virus in their own separate ways. For treating HIV patients the combination of three class of HIV drug are used, so that the growth of HIV strains can be stopped. The reason behind using the different classes of drugs as combination is that the HIV strain is immune to the drug belonging to a single class. Following are the classes of anti HIV drugs:
Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)
The drugs belonging to this class are used to disable the protein needed by the HIV virus to replicate itself. The drugs are Etravirine (Intelence), Efavirenz (Sustiva), and Nevirapine (Viramune).
Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs)
These drugs are the faulty version of building block required by HIV to make its further copies. These drugs include, the combination drugs Tenofovir (Truvada) and Emtricitabine, Abacavir (Ziagen) and Lamivudine and Zidovudine (Combivir).
Protease inhibitors (PIs)
This class of drugs are used to disable protease, which is another protein required by HIV to replicate itself. The drugs that fall into this class are Darunavir (Prezista), Atazanavir (Reyataz), Ritonavir (Norvir) and Fosamprenavir (Lexiva).
Entry or fusion inhibitors
The task of these drugs is to restrict the entry of HIV virus into the CD4 cells. The examples of drugs are Maraviroc (Selzentry) and Enfuvirtide (Fuzeon).
Raltegravir (Isentress) disables the activity of integrase, which is a protein that is used as a tool by HIV for inserting its genetic material in CD4 cells (Treatments and drugs, 2012).
The treatment of HIV should begin as soon as the patient develops the symptoms of HIV. The treatment regime of HIV can somewhat be difficult as the person has to take combination of pills as a single dosage, for almost every day for rest of his or her life. the common side effects of these medicines can be Vomiting, nausea and diarrhea, shortness of breath, abnormal heartbeat, weakened bones, skin rash and death of bones most probably the one present in hip joints.
The response of a patient to the drug treatment can be measured by the CD4 count and the viral load. The viral load of the patient is tested at the staring of the drug treatment and then regularly after three or four month during the drug therapy. The effectiveness of the drug treatment can be seen if the viral load within a patient reaches a level that it is undetectable. This doesn’t means that the patient has become HIV free but it is the indication that the viral load isn’t sensitive enough to be detected by the machine. HIV virus still can be transmitted to other by the patient, even if the viral load is undetectable (HIV Virus, 2013).
HIV Virus (2013), [Online], Available: http://www.ucsfhealth.org/conditions/hiv/treatment.html [2 November 2013].
Treatments and drugs (2012), [Online], Available: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hiv-aids/DS00005/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs [2 November 2012].