Before I start, let me say little on HIV/AIDS
HIV and AIDS + HAIR LOSS
HIV, which is in full, human immunodeficiency virus, is one of a group of viruses known as retroviruses. It is a virus that got its history decades ago from infected chimpanzees to one that infects humans.
It was said and recorded to have begun to spread beyond the African continent in the late 1970s and recently, it has spread all over the world.
Statistics show that 40 million people are currently affected, 40 million have died and HIV has been particularly devastating in sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for almost 70% of new HIV infections globally.
HIV is a viral infection that attacks the immune system and causes several symptoms and complications. Although people with HIV may experience hair loss, it is not a typical symptom.
Other factors, such as medications and co-occurring conditions, may contribute to thinning hair. Hair loss is common in patients with HIV.
Possible causes of hair loss frequently are present in patients with HIV, including chronic HIV infection itself, acute and chronic systemic infections, local infections, nutritional deficits, immune and endocrine dysregulation, and exposure to multiple drugs.
Alopecia areata and alopecia universal is also have been reported in patients with HIV
Do You Know?
85% of HIV transmission is through heterosexual intercourse and almost half of people with HIV are women. The proportion of HIV/AIDS cases among women in the US more than tripled from seven percent in 1985 to 22 percent in 2011.
That means that about one in four Americans living with HIV is a woman. The good news is that, from 2008 to 2010, women represented a noticeably smaller percentage of new HIV infections (21 percent decrease) after more than ten years of steadily increasing numbers.
Women currently account for one in five new HIV infections in the US.
What The World Health organization Said……The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that almost 18 million adults living with HIV are women. Although women account for approximately half of all people living with HIV worldwide, the percentage of women who are living with HIV varies widely among countries. Estimates suggest that one in three people living with HIV in the United Kingdom are women; almost four out of ten people living with HIV in India are women, and almost six in ten people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are women.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) reports that, in 26 of 31 countries with generalized epidemics of HIV/AIDS, fewer than half of young women in these countries have correct and thorough knowledge about HIV.
HIV, when neglected without adequate treatment, starts to cause symptoms that will lead to illness with impaired immune function. After getting into the body, the virus enters many different cells, incorporates its genes into the human DNA, and hijacks the cell to produce HIV virus. This symptomatic phase has been referred to as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) or HIV disease.
Once you are infected with HIV, It’s a lifelong infection though it’s treatable and can be controlled with medications. But remember, only consistent treatment using highly specialized antiviral medications can treat it.
HIV infection progresses in three very general stages.
Acute HIV infection.
At this stage, you might see its symptom after two to four weeks after HIV infection which will disappear within few weeks like Fever, Headache, open sores or ulcers in the mouth (like canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers), fatigue, weight loss, sweating or night sweats, appetite loss, rash that may come and go quickly, sore throat and swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck and groin.
For some other people, they may not have any noticeable symptoms during this stage.
Clinical Latency Stage (HIV Dormancy)
At this stage, the virus appears to become dormant, and the person feels normal. , the virus is still active, but symptoms are mild or not present.
Without treatment, people may remain in this stage for around 10 years. But ignorantly, the virus continues to multiply actively. At a point, it kills the cells like the white blood cell called CD4 cells or T helper cells (T cells) Even though the person has no symptoms. At this stage, it’s contagious. . But with ART, people can remain in the clinical latency stage for life.
ACQUIRED IMMUNE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME(AIDS)
When the virus overwhelms the CD4 cells(white blood cells that play a vital role in immune function), it count begins to drop, symptoms like Lymphoma (a form of cancer of the lymphoid tissue) can cause fever and swollen lymph nodes throughout the body, A cancer of the soft tissues called Kaposi’s sarcoma causes brown, reddish, or purple lumps that develop on the skin or in the mouth starts to rise. That shows that the HIV infection has elevated To AIDS.
EFFECT OF HIV ON HUMAN HAIR
People with HIV can experience thinning hair, but it may not be related to their illness.
HIV does not typically cause hair loss in people who are receiving treatment and leading a healthy life. However, many people with HIV can experience thinning hair unrelated to the condition
Hair loss is really one of those side effects of early HIV medications such as AZT, Crixivan, and Atripla. Acyclovir (Zovirax), a common medication used to treat genital herpes, can cause hair loss. Healthcare providers sometimes prescribe acyclovir to people with HIV. It can be used to treat or prevent herpes of the skin, eyes, nose, and mouth, which can develop along with HIV infection.
But I guessed, modern-day antiretroviral therapy generally doesn’t cause hair loss.
Let’s discuss some CONDITIONS that cause Hair loss and how it got related to HIV.
- The STD syphilis can also result in hair loss.( Hair loss is a symptom of syphilis), The presence of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may also increase a person’s risk of hair loss
- Telogen effluvium – it occurs when too many hairs stop growing for too long of a period. When new hair finally begins to grow, it pushes the resting hairs out, resulting in shedding. telogen effluvium can result from an infection, chronic illness, physical or psychological stress, and poor nutrition (especially a protein deficiency). These factors are all also associated with HIV.Any of these can “shock” a person’s system and result in hair loss. Telogen effluvium is a form of temporary hair loss that occurs after a stressful or traumatic event, so People with HIV can be especially susceptible to telogen effluvium as a result of physical or emotional stressors, including poor nutrition, an infection, or the challenges of living with a chronic illness.
- Hair loss is a natural part of aging for many people. People with HIV receiving medication now have a near-normal life expectancy. Many may experience hair loss as they grow older.
WHAT ARE MEDICATIONS AND TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR HIV/AIDS?
There was a time, HIV/AIDS medication wasn’t available but recently with the help of therapist under the supervision of physicians, there is now a treatable medication that has greatly reduced HIV-related complications and deaths. These drugs have been called highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). More commonly, they are simply referred to as ART.
ART drugs are needed to suppress the virus from replicating and boost the immune system. it is important to receive medical treatment for HIV/AIDS, patients may use home remedies or alternative medicine along with standard HIV treatment to improve overall health.
It is important to talk to your doctor before trying alternative therapies as some can interfere with the effectiveness of or cause negative effects with HIV drugs.
Some of the active antiretroviral therapy that will prevent the virus to make a copy of itself:
Nucleoside or nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs): These include medications such as zidovudine (AZT, Retrovir), didanosine (ddI, Videx), stavudine (d4T, Zerit), lamivudine (3TC, Epivir), abacavir (ABC, Ziagen), emtricitabine (FTC, Emtriva), tenofovir (TDF, Viread), and tenofovir alafenamide (TAF).
Combination NRTIs include tenofovir/emtricitabine (TDF/FTC, Truvada), emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide (TAF/FTC, Descovy), zidovudine/lamivudine (Combivir), abacavir/lamivudine (Epzicom or Kivexa), and abacavir/zidovudine/lamivudine (Trizivir).
Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) are commonly used in combination with NRTIs to help keep the virus from multiplying. Examples of NNRTIs are efavirenz (Sustiva), nevirapine (Viramune), delavirdine (Rescriptor), etravirine (Intelence), rilpivirine (Edurant), and doravirine (Pifeltro).
Complete HIV treatment regimens that combine two NRTIs and one NNRTI in one pill taken once a day are available for convenience; these include Atripla (efavirenz/TDF/FTC), Complera (rilpivirine/TDF/FTC), Odefsey (rilpivirine/TAF/FTC), and doravirine/TDF/lamivudine (Delstrigo).
Protease inhibitors (PIs) interrupt virus replication at a later step in the HIV life cycle, preventing cells from producing new viruses. Currently, these include ritonavir (Norvir), darunavir (Prezista), and atazanavir (Reyataz). Using PIs with NRTIs reduces the chances that the virus will become resistant to medications. Atazanavir and darunavir are available in combination with cobicistat as atazanavir/cobicistat (Evotaz) and darunavir/cobicistat (Prezcobix). Cobicistat and ritonavir inhibit the breakdown of other drugs, so they are used as boosters to reduce the number of pills needed. A PI-based one-pill regimen is darunavir/cobicistat/TAF/FTC (Symtuza).
Older PIs no longer commonly used due to pill burden and side effects include lopinavir and ritonavir combination (Kaletra), saquinavir(Invirase), indinavir sulphate (Crixivan), fosamprenavir (Lexiva), tipranavir (Aptivus), and nelfinavir (Viracept).
Fusion and entry inhibitors are agents that keep HIV from entering human cells. Enfuvirtide (Fuzeon/T20) was the first drug in this group and was given in injectable form like insulin. Maraviroc (Selzentry) can be given by mouth and is used in combination with other ARTs.
Integrase strand transfer inhibitors (integrase inhibitors or integrases, INSTIs) stop HIV genes from becoming incorporated into the human cell’s DNA and are very well tolerated. Raltegravir (Isentress) was the first drug in this class. Elvitegravir is part of two fixed-dose combinations (elvitegravir/cobicistat/TDF/FTC, Stribild) and (elvitegravir/cobicistat/TAF/FTC, Genvoya) taken as one pill once daily. Dolutegravir (Tivicay) is also available in a once-daily combination pill with two NRTIs, abacavir and lamivudine, called Triumeq. The newest INSTI is available in a one-pill combination as Biktarvy (biktegravir/TAF/FTC).
An INSTI/NNRTI combination is available as Juluca (dolutegravir/rilpivirine) and can be used to replace a three-drug regimen after six months of successful suppression of HIV virus that has no resistance.
ART may have a variety of side effects depending on the type of drug. An expert in infectious diseases and HIV treatment should be consulted if the patient needs concomitant treatment for opportunistic infections, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C. Some medications used to treat these conditions will negatively interact with ART drugs.
Birth defects are associated with both efavirenz and dolutegravir. Both should be avoided for PEP or treating HIV-infected women of childbearing age who are not using effective birth control.
HIV PREVENTION STRATEGIES:
- Abstain from oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
- Have sex with a single partner who is known to be uninfected.
- Use condoms the right way every time you have sex.
- Do not inject street drugs.
- If you do inject drugs, never share your needles or works. Use only sterile needles.
- Use sterile water to fix drugs.
- Clean skin with a new alcohol swab before injecting.
- Be careful not to get someone else’s blood on your hands or your needle or works. ETC.