HIV Medication

Health Window logo

If you are HIV positive the best way to help your immune system to stay strong and fight infection is to take your medication as prescribed by your doctor. 

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR HIV?

HIV treatment involves taking drugs that reduce the amount of the virus in your body.

HIV medicine is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). This is not a cure for the disease. However, with proper adherence to treatment the virus can be suppressed. Most people can get the virus under control within six months if they are completely compliant to the treatment plan. Taking ART does not prevent transmission of other sexually transmitted diseases.

WHEN SHOULD YOU START TREATMENT?

Treatment should be started as soon as possible after the initial diagnosis. ARTs are recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long they’ve had the virus or how healthy they seem to be. Talk to your doctor about any medical conditions you may have or any other medication you are taking before starting treatment.

WHAT ARE THE AVAILABLE TREATMENT?

There are different lines of drugs available on the market at the moment. The fixed dose combination (FDC) is commonly prescribed. This is a combination of the drugs tenofovir, emtricitabine and efavirenz in one pill.

WHY SHOULD YOU TAKE TREATMENT?

The amount of virus in the blood is called the viral load. Ensuring that you take your HIV medicine as prescribed will help keep your viral load low and it will also help to increase your CD4 cell (a type of immune cell) count. 

Antiretroviral therapy can make the viral load very low (called viral suppression). Viral suppression is defined as having less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood. When the ARTs are really working well, they can make the viral load so low that a test can’t detect it. This is called a lower than detectable viral load. Your doctor will have to draw blood to monitor your viral load. If your viral load goes down after starting HIV treatment, that means the drugs prescribed to you are working. Continue to take your medicine as prescribed.

If you skip your medication, even just every now and then, the virus can start multiplying fast. This could weaken your immune system and you can potentially become sick. Getting and keeping an undetectable viral load (or staying virally suppressed) is the best way to stay healthy and protect yourself and your loved ones.

 

Written by Dr Ruusa Shivute | Health Window

Reference: Barnhart M, Shelton JD. ARVs: the next generation. Going boldly together to new frontiers of HIV treatment. Glob Health Sci Pract. 2015 Jan 27;3(1):1-11


Content Disclaimer:
You understand and acknowledge that all users of the Dis-Chem website or app are responsible for their own medical care, treatment, and oversight. All of the content provided on the website, are for INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The content is not intended to establish a standard of care to be followed by a user of the website. You understand and acknowledge that you should always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health. You also understand and acknowledge that you should never disregard or delay seeking medical advice relating to treatment or standard of care because of information contained in or transmitted through the website. Medical information changes constantly. Therefore the information on this website or on the linked websites should not be considered current, complete or exhaustive, nor should you rely on such information to recommend a course of treatment for you or any other individual. Reliance on any information provided on this website or any linked websites is solely at your own risk.
Back to top