Home Remedies For HIV/AIDS

HIV/AIDS, a disease of the immune system caused by a virus (usually blood-borne), really requires its own book because there are just so many issues involved. I address many HIV/AIDS-related problems in other sections, including depression, nausea and vomiting, peripheral neuropathy), and osteoporosis

Regardless, I believe the “less is more” theory applies here with supplements because conventional drug treatment for this disease—specifically, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)—is one of the greatest medical achievements of my generation. In fact, researchers are just beginning to learn that megadoses of a variety of supplements could reduce the efficacy of some conventional medicines, including HAART, or increase their side effects.

What are HIV and AIDS?

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks cells that help the body fight infection, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases. It is spread by contact with certain bodily fluids of a person with HIV, most commonly during unprotected sex (sex without a condom or HIV medicine to prevent or treat HIV), or through sharing injection drug equipment.

If left untreated, HIV can lead to the disease AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).

The human body can’t get rid of HIV and no effective HIV cure exists. So, once you have HIV, you have it for life.

However, by taking HIV medicine (called antiretroviral therapy or ART), people with HIV can live long and healthy lives and prevent transmitting HIV to their sexual partners. In addition, there are effective methods to prevent getting HIV through sex or drug use, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

First identified in 1981, HIV is the cause of one of humanity’s deadliest and most persistent epidemics.

AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection that occurs when the body’s immune system is badly damaged because of the virus.

In the U.S., most people with HIV do not develop AIDS because taking HIV medicine every day as prescribed stops the progression of the disease.

A person with HIV is considered to have progressed to AIDS when:

the number of their CD4 cells falls below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood (200 cells/mm3). (In someone with a healthy immune system, CD4 counts are between 500 and 1,600 cells/mm3.) OR they develop one or more opportunistic infections regardless of their CD4 count.

Without HIV medicine, people with AIDS typically survive about 3 years. Once someone has a dangerous opportunistic illness, life expectancy without treatment falls to about 1 year. HIV medicine can still help people at this stage of HIV infection, and it can even be lifesaving. But people who start ART soon after they get HIV experience more benefits—that’s why HIV testing is so important.

Home Remedies For HIV/AIDS

Multivitamins

In Third World countries, multivitamins can help prevent immune suppression and might reduce disease progression in HIV, and I think the benefit exceeds the risk in other countries as well (though it hasn’t been tested). 

Nutritional deficiencies are not uncommon in HIV/AIDS, so it’s worth discussing with your doctor or a dietitian. (Always get nutritional testing before supplementing with higher doses of nutrients, though. An older study of mega-doses of vitamin A showed a higher rate of toxicity in HIV-infected pregnant women.)

Protein powder

Whether you’re trying to gain or lose weight (conventional HIV treatments can cause weight gain), protein powder supplementation can help. 

A well-done study from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine found that although taking 40 grams of whey protein powder daily did not have an appreciable impact on weight, it appeared to significantly improve CD4 cell counts (an important marker of immune status) in HIV patients. 

I believe taking higher dosages (more than 40 grams) could improve the odds of normalizing weight and improving muscle mass, but this comes with a higher risk of gastrointestinal side effects, too. Divide your dose during the day and use a whey protein isolate that has almost no lactose.

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