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Aggressive Treatment for an FIV+ Cat

Bud Beats the Odds - Thanks to His HIV Connection

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Bud, an FIV+ cat, has been kept alive with a combination of drugs used to treat HIV and OTC supplements. The result has been total measurable viral suppression, to the extent that in his latest test, the viral load was so low that FIV was not detected. Read his remarkable story by Joel Kehler, Bud's human caregiver.

My fourteen year-old red tabby, Bud, may have a deadly disease, but in one important respect, he is a very lucky cat. Other chronic viral diseases are also visited upon unfortunate felines with lethal results: feline leukemia virus, for instance, and feline infectious peritonitis, thought to be caused by a mutation of the otherwise less destructive feline coronavirus. Neither of these viruses, however, has first cousins in the world of human diseases that scientists around the world have spent hundreds of millions of dollars and untold hours of research to find therapies for.

Bud is infected with the feline immunodeficiency virus, the kitty counterpart of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Bud and the constantly evolving therapy that keeps him alive have appeared in this venue several times in something over a year’s time. His first appearance on About.com chronicled the use of HIV drugs to keep him alive. These are the medicines that most people think of as the fruit of the vast, ongoing research to treat HIV infection. His second appearance announced a test result from September 2003 that continues to astonish me to this day: total measurable viral suppression using over- the- counter supplements.

Now, having already confounded the odds once, Bud has done it again. In early February of this year, at the eight-month mark of his program of supplements, he tested negative a second time for FIV, This does not mean that he has thrown off the disease, but rather that the virus in his bloodstream has been reduced to numbers too low to detect either as free virus or as “provirus” (that is, virus already integrated into his DNA for eventual replication). The moving force of this happy event is a mix of herbal and nonherbal agents whose use was suggested not by veterinary but by human medicine–specifically, the exhaustive search going on worldwide for ammunition in the war against AIDS. This is Bud’s “HIV Connection.”

HIV research has shown that very ordinary and widely available substances can have a measurable impact on the virus. A recent study of a group of women in Africa, for instance, confirmed that supplementation with vitamins C and E, on average, delayed progression to the AIDS -stage of HIV infection. Now it is true that HIV and FIV, though near relations, are distinct diseases, and that cats and humans are different creatures, with distinct biochemistries. But part of this result has been documented by Japanese veterinary researchers, who showed that vitamin C significantly inhibited FIV replication. Both vitamins are potent antioxidants, substances which HIV research has shown have the ability to inhibit activation of embedded provirus and better enable the immune system to regulate its internal workings in the face of the virus’s ability to turn it against itself.

Visitors to Bud’s website, where his therapy is detailed and constantly updated, contact me from time to time and express interest in a success achieved with what they see as entirely “natural” products and dismay at the sheer number of them that it seems to be taking to produce the result! Well, Bud has been remarkably accommodating in that regard. But most cats, I would think, could be induced in some way to take in an appropriate daily dosage of a few vitamins--and perhaps a few other antioxidants. HIV research has also suggested the value of such antioxidants as carnatine, an amino acid, and n-acetylcysteine (NAC), a form of the amino acid cysteine. Both have shown an ability to promote production of a vital cell-protective substance called glutathione peroxidase, as well as prevent the loss of otherwise healthy immune cells to “apoptosis,” a form of cellular suicide provoked by viral particles or by virally skewed immune response. The effectiveness of NAC in lowering FIV populations has been demonstrated by the same research that affirmed the value of vitamin C, and at least one German veterinary researcher has given a strong endorsement of carnatine.

Could regular supplementation with such agents delay progression of FIV infection to the AIDS stage? I can’t say with any certainty. I can say that I very much sympathize with the person whose cat’s disease is still in its asymptomatic stage and who is routinely told by veterinarians that there is nothing that will stave off the development of AIDS. Such certainty when so little has even been tried in any systematic way!

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