World AIDS Day: Can Osteopathy Help with AIDS?
World AIDS Day, observed every December 1st, serves as a reminder that the fight against HIV has not gone away. It’s a very serious disease that still affects more than 33 million people around the world, including five million young people, and approximately 2,400 people around the world become infected every day. It’s a disease the must be stopped, and there has been major progress in AIDS research and improved health care over the last few years. So much so, that the UN is pushing for governments around the world to contribute to “getting to zero… zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths – by 2015.”
We have all heard about the development of vaccines and anti-retroviral treatments related to AIDS, but the use of Osteopathic Manual Therapy to treatment may not be something you have heard before, so please bear with us. First, a few sentences about AIDS and how it affects the body. Then, a look at how Osteopathic Manual Therapy may help.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a disease of the human immune system caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). AIDS is the late stage of HIV infection, when a person’s immune system is severely damaged and has difficulty fighting diseases and certain cancers. Currently, people can live much longer (even decades) with HIV before they develop AIDS, because of combinations of medications that were introduced in the mid 1990’s. Before then, people with HIV could progress to AIDS in just a few years. However, these medications come with costs and side effects, and need to be taken for the rest of a person’s life.
HIV is an infection resulting from 1 of 2 similar retroviruses (HIV-1 and HIV-2). A retrovirus is an RNA virus that is duplicated in a host cell, using the reverse transcriptase enzyme to produce DNA from its RNA genome. HIV primarily infects vital organs of the human immune system such as CD4ymphocytes (a subset of T cells), macrophages and dendritic cells. HIV infection leads to low levels of CD4+ T cells through three main mechanisms:
- Direct viral killing of infected cells
- Increased rates of apoptosis in infected cells
- Killing of infected CD4+ T cells by CD8 cytotoxic lymphocytes that recognize infected cells
When T cell numbers decline below a critical level, cell-mediated immunity is impaired, increasing risk of certain infections. Risk of subsequent manifestations related to immunodeficiency, is proportional to the level of lymphocytes. Manifestations range from asymptomatic carriage to AIDS, which is defined by serious opportunistic infections or cancers or a CD4
How does an Osteopathic Manual Therapist treat their patient to truly make a positive impact on the overall vitality of the patient? Hollis D.O. reminds us that Osteopathy is nature’s method of curing disease. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association reported a study that demonstrated that a layperson taught a couple of techniques in Osteopathic Manual Therapy produced a beneficial impact on white blood cells in AIDS patients. It could be deduced that this result would be greatly improved by a highly skilled and fully trained Osteopathic manual therapist.
Dr. Karen Sandler, D.O. is a member of the American Association of HIV Medicine and is considered an HIV/AIDS specialist. She performs OMT on all of her patients. On her website she presents numerous cases where OMT has specifically helped her AIDS patients.
Andrew Taylor Still laid down all the principles we will ever need to understand how we need to address any disorder or disease. “I found mechanical causes for disordered functioning, or poor work of the head, neck, thorax, abdomen, pelvis, or extremities. I adjusted the bony framework and secured such good results that I was encouraged to keep on and on until now I can truthfully say that I am satisfied that Osteopathy is the natural way by which all of the diseases to which the human family is heir can be relieved, and a large majority of them cured.”
Regardless of the disease or ailment the patient is suffering, it is the responsibility of the Osteopathic operator to properly evaluate the function of each anatomical structures. All perversions in the structure will affect, with no exceptions, the normal function of the physiology below.
“When all the parts of the human body are in line we have health. When they are not the effect is disease. When that parts are readjusted disease gives place to health,” wrote Dr. Still. He was the first to study this phenomenon over and over again to only find that there was no deviations available to this truth. “I was many years philosophizing, comparing and noticing results which followed taking off strains and pressures. I was surprised to see that fever, congestion and all irregularities gave way, health returned, and the results were good and satisfactory.”