Friday, August 27, 2010


After few weeks of waiting, i finally got my cd4 result it's 443, not bad, but the doctor said i have to start my treatment because of the new guidelines (if your cd4 goes down to 500 you may start medication right away). She said that it would lessen the risk of having OI (opportunistic infections). She gave me a week to think about it and also to have my x-ray again, because of my cough. Now I'm having fever again, hope its just because of the bad weather, not something serious.
I need to take care of myself more seriously.

Here are some info about CD4 and HIV:

T helper cells (also known as effector T cells or Th cells) are a sub-group of lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell or leukocyte) that plays an important role in establishing and maximizing the capabilities of the immune system. These cells are unusual in that they have no cytotoxic or phagocytic activity; they cannot kill infected host (also known as somatic) cells or pathogens, and without other immune cells they would usually be considered useless against an infection. Th cells are involved in activating and directing other immune cells, and are particularly important in the immune system. They are essential in determining B cell antibody class switching, in the activation and growth of cytotoxic T cells, and in maximizing bactericidal activity of phagocytes such as macrophages. It is this diversity in function and their role in influencing other cells that gives T helper cells their name.

Mature Th cells are believed to always express the surface protein CD4. T cells expressing CD4 are also known as CD4+ T cells. CD4+ T cells are generally treated as having a pre-defined role as helper T cells within the immune system, although there are known rare exceptions. For example, there are sub-groups of suppressor T cells, natural killer T cells, and cytotoxic T cells that are known to express CD4 (although cytotoxic examples have been observed in extremely low numbers in specific disease states, they are usually considered non-existent). All of the latter CD4+ T cell groups are not considered T helper cells, and are beyond the scope of this article.

The importance of helper T cells can be seen from HIV, a virus that infects cells that are CD4+ (including helper T cells). Towards the end of an HIV infection the number of functional CD4+ T cells falls, which leads to the symptomatic stage of infection known as the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). There are also some rare disorders that result in the absence or dysfunction of CD4+ T cells. These disorders produce similar symptoms, and many of these are fatal.

HIV infection

Perhaps the best example of the importance of CD4+ T cells is demonstrated with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. HIV targets cells that express CD4, and can infect macrophages, dendritic cells (both groups express CD4 at low levels) and CD4+ T cells.
It has been proposed that during the non-symptomatic phase of HIV infection, the virus has a relatively low affinity towards T cells (and has a higher affinity for macrophages), resulting in a slow kill rate of CD4+ T cells by the immune system. This is initially compensated for via the production of new helper T cells from the thymus (originally from the bone marrow). Once the virus becomes lymphotropic (or T-tropic) however, it begins to infect CD4+ T cells far more efficiently (likely due to a change in the co-receptors it binds to during infection), and the immune system is overwhelmed.

At this point, functional CD4+ T cell levels begin to decrease, eventually to a point where the CD4+ T cell population is too small to recognize the full range of antigens that could potentially be detected. The lack of full antigen cover results in the core symptoms of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). CD4 T cell depletion during AIDS allows various pathogens to escape T cell recognition, thus allowing opportunistic infections that would normally elicit a helper T cell response to bypass the immune system. While these complete bypass situations only occur when the helper T cell response is absolutely necessary for infection clearance, most infections increase in severity and/or duration because the immune system's helper T cells provide a weaker contribution to a less efficient immune response.
Two components of the immune system are particularly affected in AIDS, due to its CD4+ T cell dependency:

1. CD8+ T cells are not stimulated as effectively during the AIDS period of HIV infection, making AIDS patients very susceptible to most viruses, including HIV itself. This decline in killing of
CD4+ T cells results in the virus being produced for a longer period (the infected CD4+ T cells are not killed as quickly), increasing the proliferation of the virus, and accelerating the development of the disease.

2. Antibody class switching declines significantly once helper T cell function fails. The immune system loses its ability to improve the affinity of their antibodies, and are unable to generate B cells that can produce antibody groups such as IgG and IgA. These effects are primarily due to the loss of any helper T cell that can interact with the B lymphocyte correctly. Another symptom of AIDS is the reduction in antibody levels due to a decrease in Th2 cytokines (and less interactions by helper T cells). All of these complications result in an increased susceptibility to aggressive bacterial infections, especially in areas of the body not accessible by IgM antibodies.

If the patient does not respond to (or does not receive) HIV treatmentthey will succumb usually to either cancers or infections; the immune system finally reaches a point where it is no longer coordinated or stimulated enough to deal with the disease.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bob Ong Quote of the Day

Yesterday, I was on facebook and due to boredom I clicked the Bob Ong quote of the day, and this came up:

“Ano namang mapapala mo kakaisip sa nakaraan at sa mga pwede pang mangyari? wala knaman sigurong super powers para maibalik ang nakalipas na. Dapat matuto kang pahalagahan ang mga nangyayari sayo sa kasalukuyan. Isipin mo yung ngayon. I-enjoy mo lang ang buhay. Wag kang emo. Hindi ka talaga magiging masaya kung di mo tutulungan ang sarili mo. Natural lang na makaramdam ng lungkot paminsan-minsan pero ang pagiging miserable? Wag kang hibang choice mo yan.”


Maybe. But I think it's God's way of telling me that I should just enjoy life. I don’t have super powers to turn back time, so I have to accept it. I have to move on. These past few months I’ve been undergoing deep depression. I’ve been thinking about my family...what will be their reaction? Will they accept me? Will they still love me? I’m scared of the future.I don’t know what will happen to me or how long will I live? There are many thoughts and questions wandering in my head. I don’t want to be miserable anymore, it’s too depressing just thinking about this stuff, besides depression is bad for my health. I hope I can overcome all of this so I can live a happy life.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

HIV and AIDS 101

What are HIV and AIDS?

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a retrovirus that causes HIV infection. Its entrance into the body lowers the immunity (body defense system) or the ability to fight off disease.
HIV Infection is the successful entry of HIV in the human host, weakening the immune system and leading to a spectrum of diseases.
AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is a condition characterized by a combination of signs and symptoms, caused by HIV contracted from another which attacks and weakens the body’s immune system, making the afflicted individual susceptible to other life threatening infection.

How does HIV attack the immune system?

1. The human body is protected by the White Blood Cells in the immune system.
2. White Blood Cells in the immune system fight disease and germs for your body.
3. Strong diseases make the body sick, but the white blood cells usually win in the end.
4. HIV is a VERY strong germ that attacks the White Blood Cells themselves, weakening the body's defenses against diseases and makes the body vulnerable to potentially life-threatening infections and cancers. HIV then uses human cells to manufacture more of the virus, eventually killing the host & nearby cells and overwhelms the immune system.
5. After a very long struggle lasting years, HIV kills most of the immune system's White Blood Cells, leaving the body unprotected.
6. Many other (secondary) diseases attack (bringing about the condition of AIDS) and eventually kill the body.

Solid Facts on HIV and AIDS

HIV is transmitted by:
• having unprotected sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal or oral), with someone who is HIV positive. Unprotected, penetrative sex accounts for 80% of total exposures to the disease worldwide;
• having a transfusion with infected blood;
• sharing syringes and needles with someone who is HIV positive for drugs and tattoos or other skin
piercing tools such as razor blades and surgical instruments for circumcision or scarification.
• mothers to their unborn babies and through breastfeeding.

HIV is NOT transmitted through:
• Kissing
• Casual contacts or handshakes
• Sharing living quarters, eating or drinking with an infected person
• Mosquitoes and bed bugs.

HIV is transmitted through the following body fluids:
• Blood
• Semen
• Vaginal/Cervical Fluids
• Breastmilk

Stages of the HIV Disease

o The patient starts experiencing “flu-like” symptoms.
o The patient may remain well for years.
o The patient experiences “mild” symptoms such as lack of energy, nights sweats, etc.
o The patient experiences opportunistic infections from bacterial, mycobacterial, fungal, protozoal, viral and malignant sources that can cause any of the following:
Swollen glands
Mouth infections
Brain infections
Skin diseases
Lung diseases
Loss of weight

HIV Detection and Testing

HIV can be detected through the following tests:
• Antibody test - an indirect test measures the response of one’s body to the presence of HIV
• Antigen test - a test that directly measures the virus

HIV Testing is voluntary, confidential and anonymous, with pre and post-test counseling. The window period for testing is 6 months from the last exposure with HIV.

There is NO vaccine and NO cure for HIV. Anti-retroviral medication (ARVs) may only slow down the replication of the virus.

The A-B-C-D-E of AIDS Prevention

A - Abstinence
B - Be faithful (having a mutual monogamous relationship)
C - Careful Sex (No exchange of body fluids)
D - Don’t share needles/ sterilized needles
E - Education and Information


Frequently Asked Questions:

Situation of the HIV & AIDS Epidemic in the Philippines.

The DOH-NEC noted 4,424 HIV positive cases in the country since the first documented case in 1984 to the end of 2009. For 2009 alone, there were 832 HIV positive cases recorded in the Philippine National AIDS Registry. To date, an average of about two (2) new HIV cases are reported per day in the Philippines. The Health Department warns that this number only represents the tip of the iceberg from the actual number of cases since some may be unaware of their status or some are still not reporting their infection due to the stigma attached to the disease.

Who in the population are most affected?

Anyone who engages in behaviors, such as:
1. Having multiple sex partners.
2. Practice of unprotected penetrative sex (Vaginal, Anal or Oral) without the use of a condom; and,
3. Injecting drug use and sharing injecting equipment are considered most-at-risk and has the highest possibility to contract the disease.

Specifically, population groups who are considered most-at-risk are:
1. People in prostitution and their clients.
2. Injecting drug users.
3. Males having unprotected sex with other males; and,
4. People who are practicing unprotected sex and peculiar sexual practices such as anal sex.
On the other hand, several segments of the populations are considered vulnerable due to the nature of their work and exposure to several unique environments. These are OFWs and young people.

Should the Filipinos be alarmed with this situation?

Yes, the number of cases doubled in about two years. From one (1) new case reported every day in 2007 to two (2) new cases per day in 2009. It is also increasing in parallel to urbanizing communities.

How has the Government addressed the Situation?

1. Emphasize targeted prevention practices (information campaign, safer skills like negotiation skill, access to commodities and services, vulnerability reduction and empowerment)
2. Focus on most at RISK populations (esp. freelance Female Sex Workers and Men having Sex with Men and Person Who Injects Drug)
3. Partner with LGUs develop their local response on STI, HIV and AIDS through the provision of technical assistance
4. Prioritize intervention actions in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao
5. Inform high level PNAC members to formulate appropriate action
6. Formulation of a PNAC Communication and Advocacy Plan
7. Intensify partnership with NGOs and LGUs
8. Conduct a geographic mapping to determine most at risk and vulnerable areas for STI and HIV in the Country

Since 1988, a multi-sectoral approach to HIV and AIDS has been the main mechanism of the country. This means that a systematic interaction between several sectors of the society (including local and international stakeholders – from the line agencies of the government, the civil society, the academe, faith-based groups, and specific sectors of labor, the community of HIV positives, and the international community) are moving to target the multi-faceted concerns of HIV and AIDS prevention and control.

Republic Act 8504 or the AIDS law reinforced this mechanism and formalized these engagements by setting-up structures as part of the national response to HIV and AIDS. Work is continuous at various levels and targeted at specific beneficiaries.

Who else should be involved in addressing the HIV Epidemic?

Intensifying the campaign at various levels of collaboration can help significantly in reinforcing education of the people about prevention and control measures. On the program and services-delivery side, both the national and local government and specific sectors of the Philippine society have mandated duties to fulfill in order to halt and reverse the spread of HIV and AIDS in the country. More importantly, individual responsibility over their health is the most important.

What should Filipinos do in face of this epidemic?

HIV and AIDS are considered as a global pandemic and its impact is both a biomedical as well as a social issue in the country and worldwide. This alarm should be transformed to behavior change and accountability of one’s actions – taking charge of our own sexual health is required from all of us.

Each should take an active part by accessing reliable information from valid sources – such as members of the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) and advocacy and services groups in this line. Becoming more self-aware and responsible in terms of handling sexual relations are also vital to ensure a protected population. The role of family and parental guidance with strong Filipino virtues/values are significant prevention efforts starting from home.

What is the HIV test? How could one avail of the test?

HIV can be detected through the HIV Antibody test - an indirect test measures the response of one’s body to the presence of HIV. This test is given for free in government health service delivery units. There are also private initiatives supporting this line of advocacy.

By Law (R.A. 8504), HIV TESTING IS VOLUNTARY, CONFIDENTIAL AND ANONYMOUS. The test requires pre and post-test counseling. A test may yield negative during the first three (3) - six (6) month after the infection due to the phase of HIV infection where the body has not produced adequate anti-body against the virus to be detected by such test. To this end, anyone who underwent HIV testing must repeat the test after six (6) months. During this period, the person must refrain from practicing any risky behaviors.

There is NO vaccine and NO cure for HIV. Anti-retroviral medication (ARVs) may only slow down the replication of the virus.

Who should be tested for HIV?

Anyone may submit for HIV testing, particularly those who engage in behaviors, such as:
1. Having multiple sex partners;
2. Practice of unprotected penetrative sex (vaginal, anal or oral) without the use of a condom; and/or
3. Injecting drug use and sharing injecting equipment.

What will happen to people who find out they're HIV positive?

An HIV positive individual must take cooperate with support groups and service providers to ensure that his/her health and immediate family and community are well-protected from complications and mitigate the disease’ impact in his/her life. Person Living with HIV and AIDS (PLHIV) must seek assistance from designated health facilities and support groups who can assist the individual and his/her family copes with the disease. The overarching goal of the national response is to aid the PLHIVs continue on with their lives as normal as possible, still be productive, and not to be discriminated against in Philippine society.

Where should people go for more information on HIV and AIDS?

They can access local information online via; Department of Health, members of PNAC, and support groups and advocates nationwide. They can also call the following numbers for support and related information:

-San Lazaro Hospital 743 3776 – 8 loc 212
-STI and AIDS Cooperative Laboratory (SACCL) 309 9528 – 9 loc 206
-PNAC Secretariat 743 8512
-Department of Health- National STI, HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Program (NASPCP)
743 8301locals 2350 – 2352

Or the nearest Social Hygiene Clinics, Treatment Hubs, and Information and Counseling Centers by government and civil society organizations.

How could mass media help in addressing the HIV epidemic?

Dissemination of accurate information is vital for the success of the campaign, to demystify the myths and to fight spread of stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV. Behavior change can also be achieved by educating the public and the specific sectors of society and enabling them to take charge of their own health. Collaboration with the specific service delivery units is also vital for the success of the prevention and control program.

Source: PNAC Feb 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

New Life

I’m young and reactive with HIV-1.

I’m still at the state of accepting my condition though sometimes denying it and hoping that my result is negative. There were instances that I thought of ending my life, but  I knew for a fact that this won’t solve anything. I realized I have to hold on because I have to be strong for myself, my family and for my boy friend for 8 months now. I'm just worrying so much for him and wishing that he would be negative. I am praying that in these coming months he comes out negative. I'd rather have him negative than go through what I am experiencing right now.

Every day I pray for forgiveness, strength, and guidance. I need to straighten my act. No matter how bad things are for me, I needed to live and life must go on. Through this I want to enjoy life more and see what is more important with the limited time that I have. Things happen for a reason and I believe in God. If this is what He wants for me then I would accept it. As of now, I’m not ready to tell anybody else yet. I don’t want to add another burden to my family. They had enough heart breaks last year so let’s give them more time.

For others like me, let us not be ignorant, learn the disease, manage the disease and conquer it. Always think that it’s not the end, treatments will help us live. We still deserve a second chance because for us, this will be our second chance to life. We’ve already been wounded but it’s up to us to prevent that wound from getting worst. Things will get better.

Be strong, be tough and beat the bitch!!

I think I will be OK and so will you... Good luck to us!

 and remember... just breath... you’ll be OK.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Heart is still beating

This is not the way I wanted my life to turn out, but this made me appreciate my life more.
I was diagnosed with a disease, an incurable one.
I don’t know what the future holds for me but I won’t let this condition slave me.

I will...

Fight Harder!
Be Stronger!
Live Better!

My life isn't over because...