NON-PROGRESSORS AND LONG-TIME SURVIVORS
Just because an individual
tests HIV positive, this does not automatically mean they will
get sick and die. There are people who have been infected since
the very beginning of HIV/AIDS, who are NOT sick or on any HIV/AIDS
medications and are happy, healthy and alive. Equally so, people
who are on drug treatments have learned to address the importance
of nutrition, exercise, complementary therapies and supplements,
mind, body and spirit. They are living years, 20 years for many,
with more to come! Many individuals who have tested positive and
many who have never been tested, but are sure they would test
positive, have never taken HIV/AIDS drugs. In fact, there are
some individuals infected with the HIV virus, who have never had
any immunosuppression or virus replicated in their bodies. There
are those who have not developed HIV opportunistic infections
or disease and who may never develop HIV opportunistic infections
or AIDS! There are women who are HIV+ who have never taken any
HIV/AIDS medications and have delivered healthy, happy babies.
HIV infected mothers have become grandmothers!
For years people have been put on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)
just because they tested positive. Depending on where you live, there are still
physicians today who are putting individuals on these medications just because
they test positive for HIV! Over the years, many friends I loved and many others
I came to know are no longer here. People who have died taught us. Many of the
people who are still here know a truer sense of what it takes to understand AIDS.
The focus is often on the treatment and very little consideration is given to the cause.
Having an understanding of HIV is to know that HIV it is not responsible for all illness.
So, we have to look to a broader understanding and determine the causes of illness!
It would be wise to look at the contributing factors of immunosuppression:
- poor sanitation
- lack of proper nutrition causing malnutrition
- lack of proper rest
- lack of exercise
- widespread use of antibiotics
All of these are known to have damaging effects on the immune system.
Contributing to immunosuppression is the fact that we are now into our 3rd
and 4th generations of pharmaceutical use. There are immunosuppressive
effects caused by cigarette smoking. Individuals who stop smoking may
have a positive effect on the immune system with increases upwards of
200 points in their CD4 count! Alcohol, cocaine, crack, crystal meth,
ecstasy, special K, poppers and other recreational or street drugs are
co-factors of immunosuppression.
All the sexually transmitted diseases, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia,
human papilloma virus (HPV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), hepatitis A, B, and C,
mononucleosis, Epstein Barr syndrome and HIV are also co-factors.
Infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa, all
contribute to illness and are co-factors in immunosuppression.
Most AIDS related illnesses are caused by other infections,
such as: tuberculosis, bacterial pneumonia, bronchitis, pneumocystis
pneumonia (PCP), mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) cytomegalovirus
(CMV), candidiasis, cryptococcal meningitis, mononucleosis,
cryptosporidiosis and microsporidiosis.
Immune deficiency is responsible for much of the disease today,
not just in the area of AIDS, but the cause of most illness and disease.
Thomas McKeown, MD, says, "Deficiency of almost any essential
nutrient may have a marked effect on the manner in which a host responds
to an infectious agent."
We are all acquiring an immune deficiency to some degree. There are
many environmental causes of immunosuppression. The air we breathe; the
water we drink and the food we eat are not the quality they once were and
therefore are factors. Also, a toxic digestive system, organ system and
cellular environment are considered primary causes of immune deficiency.
We don't know the immune status of every individual, but we do know
HIV is directly responsible for immunosuppression!
All over the world there are people infected with HIV who are reversing
damage caused by HIV and actually rebuilding the immune system by
replacement therapy! Recognition must be given to the support role
that vitamins and minerals provide. The stomach, digestive track and
organs require their own needs be met.
Joan Priestly, MD says, "People who have been exposed to the
AIDS virus may have definite nutritional deficits secondary to
malabsorption. People, who have the virus in their body, may have
difficulty absorbing a multitude of nutrients, for several reasons.
The AIDS virus inactivates intestinal cells through cell mechanisms.
The AIDS virus also stimulates the person's own white cells to
create autoimmune intestinal disease. AIDS patients have also been
found to be lacking in most minerals, such as calcium, magnesium,
selenium, molybdenum, iron and zinc. Not all these deficiencies are
seen in one person, of course, but various people with AIDS have
been studied by various institutions and they are actually deficient
in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and /or all of these other minerals.
Why? Because they also lack the ability to make enough stomach acid to
absorb proteins and minerals and they also seem to have
The immune system is made up of proteins and cells and these cells
require nutrients. A healthy nutritional diet of protein is necessary
to rebuild muscle. Protein provides the building blocks for new
cells, including muscle and immune cells. Individuals infected
with HIV have much higher protein requirements! Nutritional
needs of those infected with HIV are 10% higher than someone
not infected with HIV. A nutritional diet, which also includes
vitamin-rich fresh fruits and vegetables, has been effective in
boosting the immune system and reducing the side effects of the
HIV/AIDS medications, as well as maintaining and improving health.
Nutrition is a primary defense! However, we don't see or hear this side!
"Food isn;t a magic bullet, it won't stop people
from dying of AIDS," said UN Food and Agricultural
Organizations William Clay, " but it can help them to
live longer, more comfortable and more productive."
People in Africa have been dying of malnutrition, dysentery and numerous
bacterial infections for years and this continues. Providing nutrition
and a safe clean environment for them would have an even greater impact
on wellness and mortality and similarly, on the number of cases worldwide!
The nutritional aspect of HIV/AIDS has been ignored for a long time.
The attention has always focused on drugs.
Viruses, bacteria, fungi and cancers, thrive in low oxygen.
Anything we do to improve the amount of oxygen in our body
and our blood stream will help to interfere with an environment
in which they thrive. A healthy nutritional diet, exercise, and
vitamin supplements, herbs and botanicals are all key in creating
more oxygen in the body.
Included and well documented as a co-factor in immunosuppression is
Mind/Body unity or psychoneuroimmunology, from the mind to the
nerves to the immune system, (example: 'When the Body
says NO' by Dr. Gabor Mate). Although researchers are still
learning about the mind-body connection, we do know that how we
think and feel plays a key role in the manifestation of dis-ease and disease,
emotional or physical. Worry, fear, guilt, anger, loss, and stresses
can suppress the immune function and contribute to or cause sickness.
Our own mind plays a deciding factor in our health!
It is most important to continually
'Show Up For Life'
with a positive attitude!
"Just as it can now be scientifically insinuated that
negative thoughts produce a negative chemical reaction, it has
been scientifically shown that positive thoughts can reverse
any such process and circumstantial evidence for this is overwhelming.
We are talking about harnessing the limitless power of positive mental
attitude and it makes no difference how you articulate this idea to
yourself: positive thinking, good attitudes, faith in God, faith in yourself."
Dr. Robert W. Bradford and Michael L. Culbert, D.Sc. authors of 'Now That You Have Cancer'
My illness showed me how uniquely destructive AIDS is. I discovered
that the emotional distress that accompanies AIDS could be almost as
debilitating as the illness itself. One of the most important facts
I learned is that the belief that everyone with HIV infection dies
of AIDS is not true! HIV can cause death, but more often, it is
now thought to be similar to a chronic illness, manageable and treatable.
The truth is that there are people living to whom HIV has not caused
illness and death. This information brings joy and hope to the heart
of any person who has ever dreaded the onset of AIDS.
Initially, we only saw the deaths of those infected with HIV.
Science, medicine and the pharmaceutical companies looked for
answers, but fear set the standard that HIV infection was a
fatal disease. Many cried out for answers. Pressure led to the
release of drugs and the direction was set! High dosages and
problems with toxicity played a major role in many of the
lives considered plagued with HIV. Although science was looking
at the virus for answers, many viewed the situation to be much broader,
suggesting many other contributing factors (co-factors that cause weakened
immunity and in turn cause illness and disease).
What I do know is this. When it was announced HIV causes AIDS,
there were scientists around the world looking at this health
problem differently and looking into various areas of treatment.
With the announcement, funding was then directed primarily to scientific
study of how HIV causes AIDS. What has happened is that the pharmaceutical
companies have manipulated the shape of AIDS. They provide the medical
profession with treatment information and dosages. As well, they are
providing funding and treatment information to the AIDS organizations
and in return AIDS organizations are promoting the treatment information
provided by the pharmaceutical companies.
AIDS conferences and treatment information seminars are held and funded
by the pharmaceutical companies. Even treatment activists wanting drugs
fast-tracked often have their airfare and hotel expenses for conferences
paid by the pharmaceutical companies. Having activists at AIDS conferences
ensures pressure on government to approve drugs. These drug companies know
they have a vulnerable market! Drugs are promoted to combat HIV when the
suppliers know that many AIDS drugs may be unsuccessful. Whether it's
over a short or long term, many do fail. HIV strategies evolve and outwit
the immune system. Therefore, some individuals are in constant need of
new drugs when their drugs fail and resistance develops. The more
HIV/AIDS drugs that an individual takes, the greater the risk of
drug resistance occurring.
Another thing, which ensures many individuals choose the drug treatment,
is the continual fear promoted by the pharmaceutical companies and the
medical profession to influence an individual into believing they will
progress to disease and/or die without combination therapies. Often, a
physician tells patients that those individuals who do use supplements
and complementary therapies: 'they die! Individuals voicing
anything other than the pharmaceutical companies ideology of HIV/AIDS
and treatments are discredited. This is all too clearly understood
by many people throughout the world.
Even the media has not told the true story but only conveys
the information provided by the pharmaceutical companies.
It is the responsibility of the media to investigate and
then report! Interestingly enough, when the media reports on
new HIV/AIDS pharmaceuticals, information on the side effects
are often left out of the report. It is important and necessary
to recognize the need for voices from all walks of life to be
heard, thus helping to create change. There are no shortages
of scientists and physicians as well as individuals living with
HIV, who have realized another understanding of how HIV and other
diseases can be affected.
Nature, (our immune system) is the greatest disease fighter
on the planet and it is inside of each and every one of us!
HIV has shown us that it is reacting differently from person to
person. However, we began by trying to treat everyone infected with
HIV alike. Each one of us is physically different with what is happening
in our body. In the treatment of any disease, we must be careful
not to have tunnel vision, or rely totally upon science, medicine
and in particular, pharmaceuticals to maintain our health. The responsibility
is ours, not something we pass on for someone or something to fix.
There is much we can do in the fight against disease!