The immune system provides a natural defense against pathogens and against abnormal cells that might lead to cancer. This system differentiates between self-cells and non-self cells by protein on the surface of the cell. Abnormal self-cells are considered non-self cells. Microorganisms are antigens and considered non-self cells and cause the immune system to generate antibodies that neutralize and destroy the antigen.

There are three processes to produce immunity: inflammation, antibody-mediated immunity (humoral immunity), and cell-mediated immunity (CMI).

Human immunodeficiency (HIV) is a retrovirus that destroys the immune system. When the retrovirus becomes active, the patient exhibits acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) is the use of antiretroviral medications designed to slow or inhibit reverse transcriptase and protease enzymes which replicate HIV. The patient must adhere to HAART therapy or the virus becomes resistant and the antiretroviral agents lose their therapeutic effect. There are four classes of medication approved by the FDA for treatment of HIV: NNRTI, NRTI, PI, and Fusion Inhibitors.

A vaccine contains a small amount of a pathogen that is enough to stimulate the production of antibodies, but not sufficient for the patient to acquire the disease. Once antibodies for a specific pathogen are generated, the immune system can quickly regenerate the antibodies when the pathogen invades the body again.

In the next chapter we look at medications that are used to treat gastrointestinal and digestive diseases.

How To Bolster Your Immune System

How To Bolster Your Immune System

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