Monday, February 13, 2012

The AIDS Alphabet: O is for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

The AIDS Alphabet: O is for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

"Identity" by Alina Oswald

While learning about HIV/AIDS, we also learn to use letters rather than words, letters that stand for one or more words. It starts with AIDS itself:

AIDS: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

As the studying continues, we also becomes familiar with terms like PCP, KS, CMV, and many others:
"Black Skies" Copyright 2010 by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

PCP: pneumocystis carinii pneumonia a.k.a. AIDS pneumonia, later renamed pneumonia jiroveci, associated with a deteriorated immune system; T-cell count under 200 (per unit of blood)

CMV: cytomegalovirus which can attack the eye (retina), the digestive system or more in patients with a weakened immune system (T-cell count under 50)

KS: Kaposi's sarcoma cancer is usually associated with the late stages of AIDS.

PCP, MAC (macrobacterium avium complex), Toxo (toxoplasmosis), candidiasis (thrush, one of the first signs of a compromised immune system) are also known as opportunistic infections (OIs). OIs are caused by viruses that normally live in the body but do no harm. When the immune system become weakened, deteriorated, depending on the degree of deterioration, certain infections (opportunistic infections) can occur, caused by these viruses. An immune system can become compromised because of HIV or chemotherapy (in patients with cancer, for example).

To learn more about what it's really like to live with (and survive) opportunistic infections, check out books like Hope: A Story of Triumph, by Joel Rothschild, Caregiver, by Rick R. Reed, My Dream to Trample AIDS, by Don Carrel, Journeys Through Darkness by yours truly (photographs by Kurt Weston). In one way or another, they all tell stories of AIDS survivors, AIDS warriors, which, in turn help us survive life, ourselves. 

Hope you'll enjoy the reads. As always, thanks for stopping by.

Alina Oswald
Author of Journeys Through Darkness: A Biography of AIDS

Alina Oswald

No comments:

Post a Comment