03 Nov Antiretroviral Treatment for HIV/AIDS
Upon finding out that you have HIV, or if you have known for a while, it is vital to start HIV treatment as soon as possible. Today we are sharing some important information that you should know about antiretroviral treatment.
Can HIV be treated?
Yes, HIV can be treated but the current drugs work by keeping it under control and not by killing or curing the virus. When the virus is controlled so is the disease.
Antiretroviral treatment reduces viral load, the amount of HIV in the blood which gives the immune system a chance to recover and fight infections.
Reducing the amount of HIV in the blood also leads to reduced risk of passing the virus to others. For this reason, pregnant or breastfeeding women with HIV should be receiving treatment to prevent transmitting it to the baby. Anyone who has HIV but is in a relationship with a person who does not should also be receiving treatment.
With treatment and appropriate health care, most people living with HIV can lead normal lives, continue to study, have relationships and even families.
When should you start treatment?
Antiretroviral treatment is recommended for all people diagnosed with HIV, regardless of how healthy they are or how long they have had the virus. Failure to receive treatment allows the virus to attack the immune system, leading to illnesses that may eventually progress to AIDS.
Your CD4 count is used to help the health care provider decide the best time to start providing treatment with the urgency to start immediately belonging to those with rapidly falling or extremely low CD4 count.
The health care provider carries out a CD4 count test that checks the number of CD4 cells in a sample of blood. A low count indicates that HIV has extensively damaged the immune system.
After you start the treatment, the health care provider continues to use the patient’s CD4 count to check their response to the medication as well as monitor its effectiveness.
Being ready to start the treatment
Antiretroviral treatment should be undergone every day for the rest of your life. This can make the decision to start receiving treatment quite emotional. Though you may be convinced that you are doing it to stay strong and healthy, it is normal to feel worried.
Take your time to prepare for the daily treatment and consider joining an HIV support network for mentorship. Most clinics have mentors who give support and information. These groups are a great resource and are free.
The best HIV treatment to start with
Antiretroviral drugs are used in combinations called an HIV regimen. The combination helps to prevent drug resistance and it is chosen on the basis of your health, treatment guidelines, potential interaction with drugs you are using, the cost of drugs, and other lifestyle factors.
According to WHO, World health Organization, the best combination for people starting HIV treatment is:
· EFV (efavirenz)
· Either FTC(emtricitabine) or 3TC(lamivudine)
· TDF (tenofovir)
Since every person is different, so you should consult your doctor who will help you determine the best combination of drugs for you. Similar to other drugs, antiretroviral drugs may cause side effects that occur within the first few days of starting treatment. If you experience any side effects, contact your doctor immediately.
Dr. Sue Reddy specializes in the treatment of infectious disease among many other specialties. She understands what is required to live a healthy, active life. Please feel free to take a look around her website and if you feel she provides services you may be interested in, give Dr. Reddy a call. Her staff would be more than happy to set up an appointment and answer any questions you may have.