Anabolic Steroids Used for Weight Gain of HIV Patients
People with HIV suffer from a condition referred to as HIV wasting. This condition is characterized by involuntary loss of about 10% of the total body weight, often coupled with prolonged diarrhea, fever, or weakness. In HIV wasting, the weight loss is attributed to the loss of lean body mass or muscle mass.
HIV wasting is caused by several factors, one of which is reduced food intake. HIV patients usually consume less food because they have low appetite. Furthermore, the medicines they take also have side effects that make them eat less.
Another factor that causes wasting in HIV patients is that their small intestine, affected by infections brought about by the disease, does not absorb nutrients effectively anymore. Finally, HIV patients experience wasting because their body’s metabolism is altered. The disease affects the way their body processes food and builds up protein.
A study conducted in 2005 showed that HIV patients have a chance to gain the weight they lost to wasting. This can be made possible by treating them with anabolic steroids.
The study involved HIV patients with ages ranging from 24 to 42. A total of 294 individuals were given anabolic steroids, which they took for 6 weeks, while 238 individuals were given the placebo. At the end of the study, those who took the anabolic steroids showed weight gain of almost three pounds.
According to medical experts, this amount of weight gained because of steroid intake is clinically relevant. This positive result has birthed the hope that more of the weight lost because of wasting can be regained by longer treatment of anabolic steroids.
Although more research is needed to establish this principle, the result of the study definitely brings good news to HIV patients. Scientists and medical experts have been trying for a long time to reverse the effect of HIV wasting, which can lead to extreme muscle loss and weakness. Wasting can even cause organs to fail and make the patient die more quickly. People with HIV or AIDS suffer from reduced testosterone levels, and their bodies are unable to build muscle mass.
So what are anabolic steroids? These are synthetic steroids that have the same characteristics as testosterone, which is the male sex hormone. They help the body to grow skeletal muscles.
Anabolic steroids have been made largely unpopular primarily because athletes misuse and abuse these products. However, they do have important medical applications and are being used to treat certain medical conditions like low testosterone level for men and anemia. Now this study involving the use of anabolic steroids for the treatment of HIV wasting proves once again that these substances have a significant role in the field of medicine.
In this study, the patients either took the anabolic steroids orally or through an injection. The side effects reported include acne, mood swings, slight increase in growth of body hair, aggressiveness, abnormal liver function tests, and irritability, which are all common manifestations of using anabolic steroids.
More study is needed to confirm if the weight gain caused by anabolic steroid intake will bring about an improvement in the patient’s quality of life. Experts also still need to determine how much gain weight translates to a successful result of treatment with anabolic steroids.