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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - AIDS

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

HIV / Blood Transfusions [posted 8/5/98]
Question: My students asked a question in response to an introductory lesson our science department was mandated to teach to the students regarding how HIV infects the body. The question had to do with blood transfusions. If blood is donated, is it tested for HIV? If the blood tests negative, is it useable immediately or does the incubation period have to elapse? Does blood that is in cold storage incubate the HIV if it is present?

Answer: The blood test has to do with the antibody response of the individual being tested. Consequently, this would not change after being withdrawn from the body, regardless of the storage of the fluid. The blood is usable immediately if seronegative. Whether the virus multiplies in the blood is not clear, but would be limited by the temperature.

Question: I'm 25 years old, and I have a prescription for AZT. Please counsel me about taking this drug.

Answer: By the laws of most states, this needs to be done by your physician. Sorry, but legal restrictions concerning HIV are very strict.

Question: How many different ways can you contract AIDS from someone?

Answer: The AIDS virus is transmitted from person to person by body fluids. This is particularly blood and semen. So, come up with a list of different ways to transmit blood, blood products, and semen. It would be fairly large.

Treatment Theories
Question: 1) Can you extract white blood cells (T cells) from a young person and clone them? Then, if the patient ever got aids in the future, they could receive daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly injections of their own cells. 2) Could you extract antibodies, enhance them, expose them to HIV, have them fight it off, and then inject them into a patient. If they ever were stricken with HIV, they would have antibodies which new how to fight off aids. 3) Could there be some kind of machine created like a dialysis machine that could be hooked up to a patient several times a week.

Answer: Good ideas. Question 1. Sure these are possible. Question 2 Possibly the cells that produce antibodies; but, if that worked the infection would be easily treated currently. Antibodies aren't the problem. Question 3. Machine for what?

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