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Effect of Pranayama & Yogasana on HIV/AIDS -1

By : Acharya Balkrishna, Avnish Upadhyay , Ruchita Upadhyay

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS or Aids) is a collection of symptoms and infections resulting from the specific damage to the immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in humans,[1] and similar viruses in other species (SIV, FIV, etc.). The late stage of the condition leaves individuals prone to opportunistic infections and tumors. Although treatments for AIDS and HIV exist to slow the virus' progression, there is no known cure. HIV, et al., are transmitted through direct contact of a mucous membrane or the bloodstream with a bodily fluid containing HIV, such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre seminal fluid, and breast milk.[2][3] This transmission can come in the form of anal, vaginal or oral sex, blood transfusion, contaminated hypodermic needles, exchange between mother and baby during pregnancy, childbirth, or breast feeding, or other exposure to one of the above bodily fluids.

Most researchers believe that HIV originated in sub-Saharan Africa during the twentieth century;[4] it is now a pandemic, with an estimated 38.6 million people now living with the disease worldwide.[5] As of January 2006, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that AIDS has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized on June 5, 1981, making it one of the most destructive epidemics in recorded history. In 2005 alone, AIDS claimed an estimated 2.4–3.3 million lives, of which more than 570,000 were children.[5] A third of these deaths are occurring in sub-Saharan Africa, retarding economic growth and destroying human capital. Antiretroviral treatment reduces both the mortality and the morbidity of HIV infection, but routine access to antiretroviral medication is not available in all countries.[6] HIV/AIDS stigma is more severe than that associated with other life-threatening conditions and extends beyond the disease itself to providers and even volunteers involved with the care of people living with HIV.

AIDS is the most severe acceleration of infection with HIV. HIV is a retrovirus that primarily infects vital organs of the human immune system such as CD4+ T cells (a subset of T cells), macrophages and dendritic cells. It directly and indirectly destroys CD4+ T cells. CD4+ T cells are required for the proper functioning of the immune system. When HIV kills CD4+ T cells so that there are fewer than 200 CD4+ T cells per microliter (µL) of blood, cellular immunity is lost, leading to the condition known as AIDS. Acute HIV infection progresses over time to clinical latent HIV infection and then to early symptomatic HIV infection and later to AIDS, which is identified on the basis of the amount of CD4+ T cells in the blood and the presence of certain infections.

In the absence of antiretroviral therapy, the median time of progression from HIV infection to AIDS is nine to ten years, and the median survival time after developing AIDS is only 9.2 months.[7] However, the rate of clinical disease progression varies widely between individuals, from two weeks up to 20 years. Many factors affect the rate of progression. These include factors that influence the body's ability to defend against HIV such as the infected person's general immune function.[8][9] Older people have weaker immune systems, and therefore have a greater risk of rapid disease progression than younger people. Poor access to health care and the existence of coexisting infections such as tuberculosis also may predispose people to faster disease progression.[7][10][11] The infected person's genetic inheritance plays an important role and some people are resistant to certain strains of HIV. An example of this is people with the CCR5-Ä32 mutation are resistant to infection with certain strains of HIV.[12] HIV is genetically variable and exists as different strains, which cause different rates of clinical disease progression.[13][14][15] The use of highly active antiretroviral therapy prolongs both the median time of progression to AIDS and the median survival time.

According to ancient traditional Indian texts, AIDS is primarily a disease of low ojas (immunity), the vital sap of the body. Ojas provides the physical and mental strength to resist disease. With a lowered immune system the body is susceptible to a host of opportune infections and disorders. There are millions of bacteria and viruses in our environment, many of which are contagious, that the body successfully fights off everyday. But in a condition of low ojas or immunity level, these organisms are allowed to remain in the body, reproduce and cause disease. Most of the symptoms associated with AIDS are similar to a disease known in Ayurveda as ojaskshaya and detailed etiology and treatment methods are available.

Ineffective metabolism of food produces toxins that pollute the system and reduce body immunity (ojas). Stress, worry, overwork and excessive sexual indulgence also decrease ojas. If this diminished state of vitality is allowed to continue, coupled with high-risk exposure to infection, the body stands no chance of resisting disease. When all seven dhatus or body tissues are deteriorated and ojas is reduced-disorders symptomatic of AIDS can occur.

The disease is caused by the dominant kapha dosha along with the other doshas tends to block the path for the flow of rasadi dhatus in their respective locations thus resulting in the deterioration of saptha dhatu Rasa(plasma), Rakta (blood cells),Mansa ( muscular tissue), Meda (adipose tissue), Asthi (bony tissue), Majja (bone marrow) and the Shukra (reproductive tissue) thus resulting into the disease.[16]

The symptoms of AIDS are primarily the result of conditions that do not normally develop in individuals with healthy immune systems. Most of these conditions are infections caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites that are normally controlled by the elements of the immune system that HIV damages. Opportunistic infections are common in people with AIDS. [17]
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