It is important to understand
the immune system and what it needs to be able to carry out all
its functions. Knowledge is necessary of the cells, the nutrients
and all they require to be up and running to maximum capacity.
The digestive system and organs all require their own needs be
met. The immune system knows how to run the body and keep it healthy.
On the other hand, we as human beings may not have been as conscientious.
This creates far more for the immune system to handle, when the
immune system does not have the proper requirements to provide
balance and harmony throughout.
Funding, education and implementation of supplements and complementary therapies
in health care is paramount. Nutritional supplements can be introduced into health
care quickly and effectively, having positive effects on individuals with illness
and disease. As a bonus, there are no toxic side effects and they will not cause
immunological problems. We must look to what is causing illness and disease and
incorporate natural healing with traditional methods. Understand the immune system,
all the workings of the body and when the body conveys immune deficiency!
Pharmaceuticals have played an important part in the evolution of how
we understand disease and treatment. With the uncertainty of long-term
effectiveness of experimental approaches and deaths associated with
pharmaceuticals, it is time we validated the successes of people
using natural supplements in the fight against HIV and all illness
and disease. Supplements can have a major impact on health and can
add years to one's life. However, the multi-national pharmaceutical
industry is providing information about HIV/AIDS to make money and ensure
continued financial success. How long will we continue in this direction
and at what cost? Will the cost be the risk of causing illness in healthy people?
There is great hope and inspiration for those able and wanting to try these
new treatments but nothing available to people who cannot tolerate the
severe side effects of triple and quadruple drug combinations. What about
these people? What about the people, and there are many, whose viral
loads do not go below undetectable? What happens when viral loads in
some go below undetectable and then start to climb right back up again?
Others with chronic liver problems due to the toxicity of these
drugs are no longer able to tolerate them at all. There is no
mention that these people exist and of the limited treatments
available to them. What about discovering treatments that would
help people for whom these drugs can potentially cause severe side
effects, illness and death? This is an area seldom discussed or resolved.
What about people who are not having any form of traditional drug
therapy? What about their success with maintaining and improving
their health? Society's focus is shifting from the problem,
to the search for a solution and prevention. I strongly recommend
that the world community embrace this shift and redirect the focus
from the negative health condition to the positive solution.
Provide education and direct attention to the cause.
There are too few individuals who are unafraid to relate that
they have been infected with HIV and who are working to create
awareness and education in the many issues surrounding HIV/AIDS.
If not in total agreement with the pharmaceutical companies and
the medical profession's direction for treating HIV with
medications, then, very little attention is given to those who
advise nutrition and complementary methods in managing HIV/AIDS!
Even the voice of AIDS activists has been lost since many
AIDS organizations are receiving funding from both government and
pharmaceutical companies. To speak out in support of alternative
choices in treatment would upset those who provide the funds and
possible removal of support! Specifically, the pharmaceutical
companies are affected when too few ways exist for them to make
money from many of the complementary methods of treatment.
I was never in agreement with the "hit them hard, hit them
early" theory! For years, I wrote letters to all levels of
the Canadian government, including all federal and provincial
health ministers, and contacted the media in this regard. Along
with countless others, I voiced that this was the wrong way to
address the HIV situation. Our concerns and opinion were not
accepted because science and medicine begged to differ. Now,
the "hit them hard, hit them early" is no longer
believed to be appropriate or accepted as a line of defense.
However, this depends on where you live, because there are
still physicians who are putting people on HIV/AIDS drugs
just because they test positive for HIV.
There is much debate and concern in regards to combination
therapy and protease inhibitors. The pharmaceutical companies
promote viral load testing to show that a lower viral load
obtained with these combinations actually improves immune
function. In some patients, reducing the viral load was successful,
but the cd4 count did not go up. Evidence has and continues to
show that these drug combinations are toxic to the body. They
can suppress immune function and advance progression to full-blown
AIDS even while viral load drops to undetectable levels.
Some people with AIDS, who take these combinations and have a
lowered viral load, are developing life-threatening problems.
Dr. Jon Kaiser says, "Each antiviral drug carries the
risk of severe side effects, including nervous system damage,
diarrhea, anemia and liver inflammation. These effects can become
cumulative over time, exhausting the immune system and risking
liver failure. And there's still no proof that any of these
drugs completely vanquish HIV, which may continue to "hide out"
in lymph nodes and other sites in the body. Most importantly,
in its infinite cleverness HIV can gradually become resistant
to most antiretroviral drugs, including the prodigious
With known drug resistance occurring in any or all combinations,
this allows the virus to mutate. This has resulted in the development
of a virus for which there is no treatment! Resistant HIV!
Lead researcher Hawke Walter said,"There are an
increasing number of patients with multi-drug-resistant
viral strains and the therapy options for these patients
are extremely limited, in particular due to the high level
of cross resistance."
Pharmaceutical companies would have us believe that
individuals are living longer solely due to antiretrovirals
and protease inhibitors. This is only partly true.
There ARE people who cannot tolerate or have not taken any
antiretroviral drugs. They are living long and healthy and
are full of vitality without the drugs! The mortality rate
has come down and the benefits of science and medicine
cannot be argued. A major reason for the change in mortality
is due to those people who have opted out of standard
treatments for HIV. Also, there are large numbers of
individuals who are infected but with no illness. These two
groups of individuals are ignored by the pharmaceutical
companies and left out of studies. Others have undertaken the
drug combinations along with incorporating a healthy lifestyle
that involves boosting the immune system, often with a
positive result. In the richer countries of the world,
where food and supplements are plentiful and accessible,
individuals are living longer! When infected with HIV and
living without the necessities of life, such as clean water
and quality food, we have progressive illness and many more
deaths. With the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS creating
so much fear, we do not have people coming forward to have
their voices heard in these matters.
Who is to say that individuals did not benefit from the
drugs as much as they did from the hope offered and that
they started to take charge of their lives and incorporate
generally healthier habits?
"The human being is becoming more and more concerned
with immediate remedies, and therefore, having lost interest
in finding the cause of his problems, he prefers taking a pill
to solve them." Psychiatrist, Arther Kaufman.
For many, it is not until there are no medical resources
left, do they then look to see what else can be done
and then actively participate in their own treatment.
Science, pharmaceutical companies, the medical profession,
government and media are ignoring much of what many people
living with HIV and AIDS have to say, which is a major
contribution in understanding HIV/AIDS. Myself and
countless others who are long time thrivers have learned
from each other along the way. All the years that I was HIV
positive but not sick, I witnessed every aspect of HIV
related illness - every sickness! I watched too many people
get sick and too many people die. I came to know individuals
who were infected but who were not sick.
A study published by Dr. David Ho of the Aaron Diamond research
Center at New York University Medical Center
reported, "5% (1 in 20) gay men who had a confirmed
exposure to HIV for at least ten years were not showing any
indications of HIV disease progression."
From the time I was told that I had "six months to
live" by an AIDS specialist in 1985, I learned from
other people infected with HIV and included supplements
and complementary therapies. These kept me healthy and
were responsible for allowing me to address health issues,
boost my immune system and avoid going on HIV/AIDS
medications for over a dozen years.
It was not that I did not get sick or need medical
attention throughout the years, because I certainly did.
There were countless doctors' appointments, blood tests at
the hospital to keep watch on how my body was reacting to
having this virus and more times than I can count trying to
fix whatever complications appeared. Throughout these
years, large numbers of infected individuals went from
a weakened immune system, to no immune system, to one
sickness after another, after another. With the advent
of newer and better HIV/AIDS medications and a much
broader understanding of this illness, individuals have
been able to bounce back and have wellness restored with
the aid of combination therapies. Equally, throughout
everything, sick or well, complementary therapies are a
mainstay to address: diarrhea, nausea, neuropathy, irritated
skin and rashes, wasting, fatigue, loss of appetite,
immunosuppression and more, when it comes to living with HIV.
We have learned a much broader understanding of this illness!
After approximately 13 years since diagnosis of infection
with HIV, I did become seriously ill. In July of 1998,
I developed pneumocystis-carinii-pneumonia, known as PCP.
I did not tolerate the medication given me to treat the PCP.
My health deteriorated and it looked as though I might die.
My only recourse was to try an HIV/AIDS drug combination to
boost my compromised immune system enough to fight off the
pneumonia. That is exactly what happened. On December 1st,
World AIDS Day, 1998, I started my first ever HIV/AIDS drug
combination treatment. After just four weeks on the medication,
my cd4 count of 40 went up a couple of hundred points; eradicated
the PCP and the viral load of several million viral particles went
down to thousands. With a reduced viral load, I could once again
absorb nutrients. I regained the weight I lost and started to
strengthen my body through nutrition, exercise and
People who knew me were very surprised that I started HIV/AIDS medications.
They knew I was very involved in addressing HIV infection through
alternative and complementary therapies. Although I was fortunate
to have lived 13 years without highly active antiretroviral
therapies (HARRT), I was not opposed to them. I was very successful
addressing my health concerns without them, but I was aware of the
benefits of pharmaceutical treatments and kept myself well informed.
I knew there was a possibility of having to go on them one day.
It was my hope that I could maintain good health without them,
or by the time I needed them that they would be much improved
from drugs used in earlier years. It worked out for me in the long run.
Without the drug combination therapy, I would not have survived.
They saved my life!
Without the availability of these drugs, there would be
far more suffering and deaths. Some individuals do not
tolerate these medications, as they can be toxic. This is
true of the treatments for many people who live with cancer
and other illness, but you do not see activists denouncing
the use of these life saving drugs. Myself and countless others
have gone on to enjoy life, aided by these medications and it
is very important to recognize the enormous benefits provided!
With any illness, not everyone benefits from the treatments
After two years, my HIV/AIDS drug combination began to fail.
A genome test showed I was resistant to all the HIV/AIDS
medications, even though my only drug usage consisted of
AZT for 9 months (years earlier) and the current drug treatment.
In 2000, with a resistance to all the existing HIV/AIDS
medications, I enrolled in a drug study for a new protease
inhibitor, Kaletra. Within the first four weeks on the drug,
my cd4 count climbed to 340 and my viral load was undetectable
(less than 50 viral particles). Obviously, we are moving
forward in the development of more effective drug treatments.