What is HIV?
HIV is a disease that is most commonly contracted through unprotected sexual intercourse and, to a lesser extent, sharing needles and syringes. People infected with the virus present with various immunological irregularities including immune suppression, chronic inflammation and autoimmune disorders. Classical symptoms of HIV include persistent (i.e. > 1 month) flu-like symptoms; extreme and constant tiredness; anxiety and depression; fevers, chills and night sweats; unexplained rapid weight loss; swollen lymph glands; skin abnormalities; continuous coughing; diarrhoea and reduced appetite.
People with HIV may not have symptoms, but they still carry the virus, and can transmit it to others. Without treatment, HIV can progress to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) over a period of 10-15 years. HIV is typically treated with five main types of so-called ‘antiretroviral’ medication that target different stages of the lifecycle of the virus. Adherence to medication is critical, because if treatments are not taken properly, the virus can become resistant to medication. However, medication is not without side-effects, and this has stimulated interested in complementary treatment strategies such as exercise.