Immune system disorders are major health crises that affect the whole world. These are disorders that occur due to defects in the development and functions of the immune system, exposing one to infections and some cancers (Abbas et al., 2019). These disorders caused by a defect in the immune system are called immunodeficiency disorders. Abbas et al. (2019) suggest two main types of immune system disorders; congenital immunodeficiency, which refers to diseases caused by genetic abnormalities in the immune system components. According to Abbas et al. (2019), acquired immunodeficiency are diseases that occur due to infections, nutritional abnormalities, or medical treatment that cause inadequate or loss of function of various immune system components.
HIV is an acquired immunodeficiency virus that attacks the body’s immune system. It mainly affects white blood cells called CD4 cells, and with time damages them (Story, 2022). Two RNA segments are contained inside a protein core coated by a lipid membrane in a viral HIV molecule. The viral RNA incorporates various enzymes and structural proteins that regulate viral gene synthesis and the viral cycle of life. According to Story (2022), the main envelope glycoprotein, gp 120, attaches to the cell membrane by binding to the CD4+ molecules.
The viral envelope fuses with the host cell membrane after attaching to cellular surfaces. As a result, the HIV RNA and some HIV-encoded enzymes penetrate the cell’s cytol, thus expelling its RNA into the host cell (Story, 2022). The viral reverse transcriptase enzyme then synthesizes a DNA replica of the viral RNA. And by the action of the integrase enzyme, the DNA is integrated into the host cell’s DNA (Story, 2022). In case of activation of the infected T cell by another microbe or cytokines, the cell reacts to the stimulus by activating the transcription of a large number of its genes. This eventually leads to a negative consequence and causing AIDS.
HIV is spread through sexual intimacy, pricks from infected needles transfusion of infected blood, among others. Story (2019) suggests that the virus mainly infects the CD4+ T cells at the entry site through lymph nodes and circulation. Accessory cells may pick up the virus as it goes through mucosal epithelia on its way to the lymph nodes, where it infects T cells. Following infection, the host may present acutely with fever, body aches, and malaise. The effects go on their own after some time and the infection progress to a dormant state. Here few or no clinical signs are present, but ultimately, the CD4+ T cell count starts to drop. This leads to the diagnosis of AIDS.
Currently, the management of AIDS is targeted at regulating the duplication of HIV and preventing opportunistic infections (Abbas et al., 2019). Antiretroviral therapy (ART), involving a combination of medications that obstruct the protease action, integrase, and viral reverse transcriptase enzymes, is presently being administered early in mounting infection (Abbas et al., 2019). Adherence to an antiretroviral regimen can dramatically slow the progression of HIV infection, leading to a long life span. HIV patients are put under septrin, an antibiotic that prevents complications of infectious HIV such as pneumonia and toxoplasmosis. For clients who suffer depression following HIV infection, antidepressant therapies are administered. It is also advisable to eat high protein diets essential in the immune system development during the treatment. Nurses should assess electrolyte imbalances since AIDS can cause chronic diarrhea. Subsequently, this calls for antidiarrheal therapy, which helps prevent dehydration and also replaces the lost electrolytes.
I interviewed a client who had been living with HIV/AIDS for two years. During the interview, my client said to have experienced several signs of the infectious disease; this includes fever, general body malaise, body aches, flu, frequent headaches, and rashes. He also stated that he was anxious about whether he will adhere to the daily medications of HIV infection. He explained that his anxiety was because ART regimen runs for a lifetime.
While interviewing the client, he said he was under the current antiretroviral regimen, including tenofovir, lamivudine, and efavirenz. The drugs above are all reverse transcriptase inhibitors that help inhibit RNA virus replication. These three combinations of drugs are also the first-line drugs of choice for the treatment of HIV. He also said he was under septrin, a prophylactic antibiotic to prevent further infections like pneumonia and toxoplasmosis.
Impact on Lifestyle
During the interview, he said that the disease negatively impacted his life since he was depressed and stigmatized. This disease made him segregate himself from his friends. Even though he says that he can work independently, he further said that he works with less motivation due to stress. Additionally, he states that the treatment regimen he is currently under comes with some side effects like loss of appetite, diarrhea, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and rashes, particularly in the trunk region. He further says the infection has affected his relationship status since he finds it hard to disclose his status to his partner. This consequently led to his divorce from the partner and has since then been emotional.
To summarize, HIV is a worldwide immune system disorder. It can have detrimental effects on health since it attacks the cells responsible for defenses in our system. Hence, a prompt diagnosis should be reached earlier as possible to prevent its progression to AIDS. This calls for frequent HIV testing, where the identified positives are counseled and immediately started on antiretroviral therapy. On the same, the identified negatives patients are as well counseled and advised further on protective measures to prevent acquiring the disease.
Abbas, A. K., Lichtman, A. H., & Pillai, S. (2019). Basic immunology e-book: Functions and disorders of the immune system. Elsevier Health Sciences.
Story, L. (2022). Pathophysiology: A practical approach (4th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Publishers.