Candidiasis - HIV/AIDS Opportunistic Infections
Candidiasis, or thrush as it’s more usually known, is a very common opportunistic infection in people with AIDS.
It’s one of one of the least serious AIDS-related problems but it can still be an utter nuisance and very uncomfortable.
Thrush is a fungal infection, caused by a common type of yeast, which usually infects the mouth, throat or vagina. As with the majority of opportunistic infections, in a healthy person the immune system would keep it at bay. But when someone is infected with the HIV virus and the immune system is low, the helpful bacteria in the body which would normally keep thrush under control are in short supply. These are conditions in which thrush loves to thrive.
In the mouth and throat, thrush appears as white patches (resembling lumps of cottage cheese) or as red spots. It can be very painful making swallowing or eating very difficult. Loss of appetite is very common.
Vaginal candidiasis is an uncomfortable infection. It may be the first sign that a woman is infected with HIV as candidiasis often appears months or even years before other more serious opportunist infections.
Symptoms include severe itching and burning of the vagina and a thick white discharge which again resembles cottage cheese.
Drugs are rarely recommended for the prevention of candidiasis though they are often used to stave off other serious infections. At the end of the day, thrush may be a nuisance but it’s not life threatening and there are some very good drugs on the market to treat it. It’s also quite a clever fungus and could actually develop a resistance to any preventative medicine.
Treatments for oral thrush include mouthwash or lozenges and the antifungal drugs clotrimazole, flucanazole and ketocoazole. These drugs are usually taken in pill form.
For vaginal thrush there are over the counter remedies including ointments containing the antifungal drug clotrimazole which can be applied onto the affected area. The drug DiFlucan, which is taken orally and is widely available at chemists, is also very effective.
The treatments won’t actually get rid of the yeast, as it’s something that lives naturally in the body, but they will bring it under control. Unfortunately it’s one of those infections that can occur time and time again.
If you have AIDS it’s very likely that you may have another opportunist infection or be taking drugs to prevent one. Certain antibiotics, steroids and cancer drugs have been found to cause candidiasis. There is more likelihood of this if then drugs have been taken for a long period of time.
The best thing to do to prevent an outbreak is to ensure that your CD4+ count stays high by boosting the immune system with a combination of anti HIV drugs.