| Youssef Habib
| Bio 11
[The Use of AZT as Medication for Patients with HIV/AIDS
Observing and researching the ethical and social views on the controversial issue of using AZT as a medication for the patients that have HIV and/or AIDS
History of AZT as a treatment for HIV
* AZT was first discovered (first synthesized) by Jerome P. Horwitz, Who works for the Michigan Cancer Foundation in Detroit. * AZT was discovered in the early 1960’s when the ‘war on cancer’ first began. Doctors would just pick random drugs off the shelves to see if they would work, and eliminate the cancer cells. * AZT was approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as a drug to help combat AIDS and HIV in 1987. * Right after the drug was releases, deaths resulting from AIDS skyrocketed because the dosage that was being given to the patients was believed to be too high. Thus the dosage was changed from 1200mg to 300mg. * The great debate about AZT’s being effective or not began in 1993, with some saying that AZT saves the lives of HIV patients and others saying that it’s a useless drug. * In 1996 it was discovered that when a pregnant mother that has HIV takes AZT, it reduces the chances of the HIV being transmitted from the mother to child. * In the Late 1990’s Scientists Discovered that AZT is most affective when it is given with another antiretroviral drug. This kind of therapy is known as HAART therapy. * Today since there are many opposing views, regarding AZT. Many people just prefer to not to take the drug rather than deal with the drug’s possible side effects.
How AZT Works as a Treatment for HIV
AZT is a drug that is used to slow the development of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) in people who are infected by HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). AZT is a part of a group of drugs called antiretrovirals that were originally being used as treatment for cancer in the 1960’s. Aids is a disease that reduces the effectiveness of the immune system. It destroys a type of defense cell called CD4, thus leaving individuals exposed to infections and tumors. Similarly HIV is a condition which causes failure in a human’s immune system, the system which kills any harmful viruses that are found in the human body. Which means that when HIV causes the immune system to fail it leaves humans in life threatening conditions once they are exposed to a disease.
AZT is only effective in HIV treatment when the virus is replicating into proviral DNA. This is because active compound that is found in the AZT have a high similarity with an enzyme called reverse transcriptase, which is an enzyme that transcribes single stranded RNA into double stranded DNA. Even though AZT is selective for HIV reverse transcriptase, it also functions to partially block the activity of some human polymerase enzymes, those are enzymes that add nucleotides to new forming strands of DNA. AZT does not serve to destroy the HIV infection, however it main purpose and function and is to delay the progression of the HIV disease and the replication of the virus. AZT’s are prescribed to pregnant mothers who have HIV because many studies have found that it decreases the chances of the HIV disease from being transmitted from the mother to the child.
The main problem with AZT’s is that when it is given in large doses to patients that have HIV, the HIV often is able to become resistant to this treatment. Therefore many doctors recommend that the drug be taken with other reverse transcriptase inhibitor and an antiretroviral from another drug group, This kind of therapy is known as HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy) therapy and it began in 1996. There are also many side effects that are attributed to the use of AZT and this includes: headaches, bone marrow depression, nausea, muscle pain and a reduction in the number of white blood cells. Some more serious side effects are anemia and decrease in the amount of...
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