Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV and AIDS)

Naturopathic medicine can play an important role in the successful management of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

HIV interferes with your body’s ability to protect itself against viruses, bacteria and fungi and renders you more susceptible to infections and certain cancers. AIDS is a chronic, life-threatening condition caused by the HIV.

HIV is an infection that is transmitted via body fluids (e.g., through sexual contact, sharing of needles for intravenous drug use, organ or tissue transplants, breastfeeding or birth [from an infected mother to child]). Late-stage HIV infection is called AIDS.

Complications of HIV and AIDS include increased susceptibility to any number of infections (bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic) and certain cancers (Kaposi’s sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), weight loss, depression, anxiety and dementia complex.

Seek professional healthcare if you suspect you may have been infected with HIV.

Symptoms of HIV and AIDS

Possible symptoms of “primary” infection, occurring within one to two months of contracting HIV include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes — often one of the first signs of HIV infection
  • Fever and chills
  • Night sweats
  • Rash
  • Headache 
  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • Sore throat
  • Mouth or genital ulcers
  • Diarrhea

Possible symptoms of early HIV infection include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes — often one of the first signs of HIV infection
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea

AIDS usually develops approximately 10 years after initial infection with HIV. Possible symptoms of AIDS include:

  • Shaking chills or fever higher than 38 °C (100 °F) persisting for several weeks
  • Swelling of lymph nodes lasting longer than three months
  • Persistent, unexplained fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Soaking night sweats
  • Persistent headaches
  • Blurred, distorted vision
  • Persistent white spots or unusual lesions on your tongue or your mouth
  • Dry cough and shortness of breath
  • Chronic diarrhea

In children, possible symptoms of HIV infection include:

  • Delayed mental development
  • Difficulty gaining weight
  • Difficulty walking
  • Severe childhood infections (e.g., ear infections, pneumonia, tonsillitis)

Treatment of HIV and AIDS at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine

At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, the goals of HIV and AIDS treatment are to optimize the function of your immune system, manage symptoms of opportunistic infections and conventional treatments and ultimately prolong and improve life and quality of life.

Naturopathic treatment of any chronic health concern must be recognized as a process that involves:

  • Identifying specific treatment goals
  • Development by your naturopathic doctor, of a thorough understanding of all factors affecting your health, including physical, psychological, emotional and lifestyle factors
  • Development of a comprehensive treatment plan
  • Implementation and maintenance of that plan through periodic monitoring and adjustment

At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, a typical approach to treating HIV and AIDS may be to:

Where appropriate, a number of therapeutic options are available, to be used alone, or more often in a complementary fashion, including:

Treatments provided by naturopathic doctors and registered massage therapists are covered by most extended healthcare plans.

References

HIV/AIDS [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; [cited 2010 Jan 16]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hiv-aids/DS00005.

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