T-cells are a marker (measurement) of the immune system. Basically, the more you have the happier your immune system is. (They are a messenger cell put out by the thymus -- hence the name "T" cell -- to tell the bone marrow to make antibodies [which are also called "B" cells...] When you run out of T-cells, you can't mount an antibody defense because the bone marrow never gets the message that the body is under attack.) But, AIDS eats T-cells. (This is a simplified explanation.) Here are some pictures to help tell the story, plus a Project Inform writeup:
- A Life Magazine overview of how the immune system works (126kb).
- A Life Magazine chart of how the immune system and HIV interact (128kb).
- A graph of our very own t-cells -- together on one page for cool comparisons!
- How HIV infects cells -- a protein called CKR5 and another called fusin open the door...
Viral load tests are actual counts of the amount of virus in the blood. (Here's a graph of our viral loads.) This blood test is a better indicator of whether the virus is really attacking the body, only slightly attacking, etc. The reason this is important is because it is a better diagnostic indicator of whether our anti-HIV drugs are working or not.
Wes' bloodwork showed an ongoing decline in mid '96, so we're including Wes' Drug Decision Index to share how he went about deciding how to change drugs. And, how he went about/goes about evaluating further changes. Since Wes' medication regimen changes over time, here's Wes' HIV Medication Regimen .
As a basic primer on treating AIDS today, here is a recap of the XI International Conference on AIDS that Wes & Tom's doctor pulled together after her '96 trip. We're including it here as it is a really nice overview. For further references, please check our AIDS Links.
Also, in late 1997 - early 1999, Wes had some pretty annoying neuropathy in his feet, which then went into his arms and shoulders, and then largely left his feet but remained in the arms. Here's what we learned:
- THE SAGA OF THE TOES
- MORE ABOUT MY NEUROPATHY
- More on "THOSE DARN TOES!"
- Also read the August 1998, November 1998, and January 1999 changes in Wes' HIV Medication Regimen, which really helped with some of the neuropathy.
The onset of neuropathy also had an odd side effect: Wes experienced "slow brain" at times. It felt like his brain was trying to think while walking through molasses. Very strange. So, in March 1999 we had a Quantitative Electroencephalogram performed. It provided a visual picture that something was amiss. For more information about this procedure, visit Siber Imaging.
And lastly, a good e-pal of ours asked us How much does all this cost? After we pulled it together for her, we put it here for you!
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