Although there is no for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), it is possible for an infected person to live a normal life for many years with the right treatment. The goal of the treatment is to slow the progress of the virus and to avoid the complications that come with a weakened immune system. After all, HIV-infected person will not die from the virus itself but from other opportunistic illnesses that the body cannot fight off.

Below is an overview of the treatments for HIV you might be able to get if you tested positive for the virus.

What are the types of drugs for treating HIV?

Currently there are five classes of medication to treat HIV. The method is collectively called antiretroviral therapy which indicate the main purpose of the drugs. Since HIV is a retrovirus, it means that the RNA of the HIV inserts it DNA copy into the host cell to replicate. ART will then block the virus from doing this to slow down its progress.

Which medication should you take?

Most doctors will recommend that a person who has tested positive for HIV should start taking medication immediately regardless of the CD4 T cell count. A combination of three medications from two classes is the standard in most hospitals in order to prevent the virus from creating a drug-resistant strain.

What are the classes of ART?

NNRTI or non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors prevents copying by turning off a protein; PI or protease inhibitors will inactivate the protease so the virus can’t make copies; NRTI or nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors have incorrect copies of the HIV; integrase inhibitors disable integrase, the protein that is inserted into the CD4 T cells; and entry/fusion inhibitors blocks the entry of the virus into the CD4 T cells.

Do you need to take medications for HIV?

Antiviral medication must be offered regardless of the CD4 T cell count, especially if it is under 350. If you also have complications or other conditions that might be aggravated by a weak immune system, you must get treated right away. Without the medication, you are vulnerable to opportunistic infections.

Are there any side effects?

Because the medication is a lifetime commitment, you have to expect that there will be side effects. Majority of the people getting the treatment suffer only from mild side effects, so correct combinations must be determined.

Regular checkups with the doctor should be observed to monitor the progress of the virus and treat other side effects such as high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol levels, weakened bones, and possible heart diseases. You CD4 T cell count and viral load must also be checked every six months.

Can a pregnant woman get treatment?

To prevent transmission of the virus from mother to child, the mother must be treated as early as possible. The baby will also receive treatment for up to six weeks after birth. Most medication for HIV are safe for pregnant women and studies show that there are no risks for birth defects.

Ever wondered what those wart-like protuberances are on your skin, especially on the neck and armpits? They are known by many names, but most dermatologists in Singapore refer to them collectively as skin tags.

Causes of Skin Tags

Some of the names for skin tags include soft fibromas, filiform, acrochordons, papillomas, fibroepithelial polyps, and pedunculated. These names also describe the distinct features of some of the skin tags. They may look like warts but are not, and are made from blood vessels and collagen fibers covered by either a thin or thick layer of epidermis.

Generally, they have the same color as the person’s skin and can be as small as 1 mm in diameter, while the largest can grow as much as 5 cm in diameter. It is not yet clear what causes skin tags, but they are generally harmless.

Some factors, however, might increase a person’s chances of getting them; such as, irritation and chafing, that is why most skin tags are found where skin rubs against skin (groin, neck, and armpits); insulin resistance or the disease known as syndrome X; human papillomavirus (HPV); and elevated levels of growth factors during hormonal change or if the person suffers from gigantism. They are also more common among people who are overweight or obese or those who have type 2 diabetes.

Treatment and Removal

Other skin diseases might look like skin tags, such as viral warts, molluscum contagiosum, and seborrheic keratoses, that is why you need to consult a doctor if you want to have them removed. Skin tags are not signs of a deadly disease nor will it cause any harm to your body, but they appear nasty and disgusting to some people.

Skin tags can sometimes form clusters, making the appearance even more horrifying. Besides the aesthetic concerns, skin tags can get irritated or infected and must be removed before it can lead to a more serious medical concern. Before a skin tag can be removed, the doctor needs to examine them to determine if they are skin tags or not. Some might recommend a biopsy to rule out the possibility of cancer if the skin tag is unusually large in size.

There are various ways to remove skin tags safely; such as, surgical excision using scissors, electrosurgery or diathermy, cryotherapy or freezing, and ligation or tying a suture on the skin tag. Some people, however, prefer over-the-counter solutions to skin tags because they are more affordable, but this is generally frowned upon by medical practitioners because you need to rule out the possibility of other diseases.

Some remove the skin tags by tying them off to cut off the blood flow using a string or a dental floss. The skin tag will fall off eventually after a day when you leave the string on. There are also some approved skin tag removal devices sold at pharmacies for removing more than one skin tag at a time.