How Has Treatment Improved
Antiretroviral medications can help to slow damage caused by HIV infection and prevent it from developing into stage 3 HIV, or AIDS.
A healthcare provider will recommend undergoing antiretroviral therapy. This treatment requires taking three or more antiretroviral medications daily. The combination helps suppress the amount of HIV in the body . Pills that combine multiple medications are available.
The different classes of antiretroviral drugs include:
- non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors
- integrase inhibitors
Viral-load suppression allows people with HIV to live healthy lives and decreases their chances of developing stage 3 HIV. The other benefit of an undetectable viral load is that it helps reduce transmission of HIV.
The 2014 European PARTNER study found that the risk of HIV transmission is very small when a person has an undetectable load. This means that the viral load is below 50 copies per milliliter .
This discovery has led to an HIV prevention strategy known as treatment as prevention. It promotes constant and consistent treatment as a way to reduce the spread of the virus.
HIV treatment has evolved tremendously since the onset of the epidemic, and advancements continued to be made. Initial reports from a clinical trial in the United Kingdom and a from the United States showed promising results in experimental HIV treatments that could put the virus into remission and boost immunity.
Friday 29 November 2019
How much do you actually know about HIV and AIDS? If most of what you know comes from movies or news stories from the 1980s and 90s, it might be time to update your information.
Did you know, for example, that modern medicines mean that most people in Australia who contract HIV will never develop AIDS, and can go on to live a very normal life? Or that theres medication that can protect people from contracting HIV in the first place?
We spoke with Dr Graham Neilsen,a specialist sexual health physician, and Nathan, a young man who has HIV, about what HIV is, how it can be prevented and treated, and what its like to live with HIV in modern-day Queensland.
Taking Antiretroviral Treatment For Hiv
If youve been diagnosed with HIV then starting treatment as soon as possible is the first step to taking care of yourself and keeping your immune system strong. Although antiretroviral treatment is not a cure for HIV, it does keep the virus under control.
Like a lot of medication, you may experience some side effects in the first few months. If they persist and are affecting your quality of life, you should be able to switch to a different drug regimen.
Once you start treatment, the key to staying well is to make sure that you take it regularly as prescribed which usually means every day at the same time. Skipping doses, or taking it at different times each day, will stop it from protecting your immune system.
If youre having problems taking your HIV treatment, talk to your healthcare professional as soon as possible to get help and support
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Will Having Hiv Affect My Pregnancy
Babies can get infected with HIV during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding thats why its recommended that everyone get tested early in pregnancy. If you have HIV, antiretroviral medications greatly lower your chances of giving HIV to your baby. With treatment, less than 2 out of 100 babies born to women with HIV will be infected. Without treatment, about 25 out of 100 babies will be infected.
Managing Stress And Getting Support
Looking after your mental wellbeing and emotional health is just as important as taking care of your body.
Finding out you have HIV can be a shock, and it may take you some time to adjust. Talking to your friends and family, and other people living with HIV, can really help when things get difficult. You could look for a peer mentoring or buddying service in your area.
Once you adjust to living with HIV, its a good idea to think about what you want out of life. What are your goals? Whats important to you? Maybe you want to study, travel, have a family or change career? Dont let HIV stop you, theres no reason why it should.
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How Is It Treated
The standard treatment for HIV is a combination of medicines called antiretroviral therapy, or ART. Antiretroviral medicines slow the rate at which the virus multiplies.
Taking these medicines can reduce the amount of virus in your body and help you stay healthy.
To monitor the HIV infection and its effect on your immune system, a doctor will regularly do two tests:
- Viral load, which shows the amount of virus in your blood
- CD4+ cell count, which shows how well your immune system is working
After you start treatment, it’s important to take your medicines exactly as directed by your doctor. When treatment doesn’t work, it is often because HIV has become resistant to the medicine. This can happen if you don’t take your medicines correctly.
Is There A Cure For Hiv
No, there is no cure for HIV. However, with good and continued treatment, the progression of HIV in the body can be slowed down and almost stopped. Increasingly, people living with HIV feel good and are productive for many years after infection. There is no reason to believe life ends once a person becomes HIV positive. Many people live long lives after becoming HIV positive.
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How Is Life Expectancy Calculated
Life expectancy is the average number of years that a person can expect to live.
More precisely, it is the average number of years an individual of a given age is expected to live if current mortality rates continue to apply. It is an estimate that is calculated by looking at the current situation of a group of people and projecting that into the future.
However, HIV is a relatively new disease and HIV treatment is a rapidly changing area of medicine. It is therefore hard to know whether our current experience will be an accurate guide to the future.
At the moment, there are large numbers of people living with HIV in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and sixties. Current death rates are very low, resulting in encouraging figures for future life expectancy. But we have very little experience of people living with HIV in their seventies or eighties, so we know less about the impact HIV may have later in life.
Also, healthcare for people with HIV is likely to get better in the future. People living with HIV will benefit from improved anti-HIV drugs that have fewer side-effects, are easier to take and are more effective in suppressing HIV. Doctors understanding of how best to prevent and treat heart disease, diabetes, cancers and other conditions in people with HIV is improving. This could mean that people actually live longer than our current estimates suggest.
How Do I Talk With People About Having Hiv
It might feel scary to admit that you have HIV, but talking about things can really ease your mind. You could lean on a close, non-judgmental friend or family member whom you trust to keep the conversation private. Counselors and support groups can also be sources of comfort and they can help you figure out how to talk with others about your HIV. Be careful about who you tell your status to people with HIV sometimes deal with unfair discrimination.
Theres no one right way to talk to your partners about having HIV, but here are some basic tips that might help:
Try to stay calm and remember that youre not the only one dealing with this. Millions of people have HIV, and plenty of them are in relationships. Try to go into the conversation with a calm, positive attitude. Having HIV is a health issue, and it doesnt mean anything about you as a person.
Know your HIV and AIDS facts. There are a lot of myths about HIV out there, so read up on the facts and be ready to answer your partners questions. Check out HIV.gov. Let your partner know there are medications that can help you live for a long time and avoid passing HIV to them. Safer sex like condoms and PrEP can also help protect your partner.
Its really important to also tell your past partners that you have HIV, so they can get tested, too. A lot of health departments have programs that let your partners know they were exposed to HIV without giving them your name unless you want them to.
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How Is Hiv Diagnosed
A doctor may suspect HIV if symptoms last and no other cause can be found.
If a test on urine or saliva shows that you are infected with HIV, you will probably have a blood test to confirm the results.
Most doctors use a blood test to diagnose HIV infection. If the test is positive , a test to detect HIV DNA or RNA will be done to be sure.
HIV antibodies may show up in the blood as early as 2 to 4 weeks after contact but can also take as long as 3 to 6 months to show up in the blood. If you think you have been exposed to HIV but you test negative for it:
- Get tested again. A repeat test can be done after a few weeks to be sure you are not infected.
- Meanwhile, take steps to prevent the spread of the virus, in case you do have it.
You can get HIV testing in most doctors’ offices, public health units, hospitals, and HIV care clinics.
More About Hiv Transmission
When youre born with HIV, the virus was passed to you from your mother. But mother-to-child transmission is not the only way in which HIV is transmitted. More commonly, HIV is passed on via sex or by injecting drugs with shared injecting equipment.
Transmission is dependent on the HIV positive persons viral load if the viral load is undetectable, the virus cant be passed on.
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Aids Or Hiv Life Expectancy Without Medication
How long can you live with HIV or AIDS if you chose not to treat with ART combinations or other prescription drugs? In the absence of such therapy, a patient should expect to see a notable decrease in life expectancy.
In countries where health care and ARTs arent readily accessible, HIV rates are above 20 percent. Shorter HIV life expectancy in these regions, combined with a high incidence of AIDS in younger age groups, boosts their overall mortality rate.
Population studies proved that AIDS patients who did not take HIV medications survived for roughly three years. Once they developed a dangerous opportunistic illness, life expectancy with AIDS decreased to one year or less.
Thats why HIV and AIDS remain a serious threat to public health, and why early detection is absolutely critical to long-term survival.
Symptoms Of Hiv Infection
Most people experience a short flu-like illness 2 to 6 weeks after HIV infection, which lasts for a week or 2.
After these symptoms disappear, HIV may not cause any symptoms for many years, although the virus continues to damage your immune system.
This means many people with HIV do not know they’re infected.
Anyone who thinks they could have HIV should get tested.
Some people are advised to have regular tests as they’re at particularly high risk.
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Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet to keep your immune system strong. A heart-healthy diet can help prevent some of the problems, such as high cholesterol, that can be caused by treatment for HIV.footnote 24
- Learn how to deal with the weight loss that HIV infection can cause.
- Learn how to handle food properly to avoid getting a foodborne illness. For more information, see the topic Foodborne Illness and Safe Food Handling.
- Exercise regularly to reduce stress and improve the quality of your life. Take steps to help prevent HIV-related fatigue.
- Don’t smoke. People with HIV are more likely to have a heart attack or get lung cancer.footnote 25, footnote 26 Cigarette smoking can raise these risks even more.
- Don’t use illegal drugs. And limit your use of alcohol.
Whats The Next Step After Youre Diagnosed With Hiv
After you are diagnosed with HIV, its important to see a health care provider who can help you start medicine to treat HIV as soon as possible. ART is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long theyve had the virus or how healthy they are. HIV medicines help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives and reduce the risk of HIV transmission.
Getting and staying on HIV medicine is important because, when taken as prescribed, these daily medications can reduce the amount of HIV in your blood to a very low level. If your viral load is so low that it doesnt show up in a standard lab test, this is called having an undetectable viral load. Getting and keeping an undetectable viral load is the best thing you can do to stay healthy.
There is also a major prevention benefit. People living with HIV who take HIV medicine daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners.
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New Hiv Diagnoses In The Us And Dependent Areas By Race/ethnicity 2019
*Black refers to people having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. African American is a term often used for people of African descent with ancestry in North America.Hispanic/Latino people can be of any race.
The most affected subpopulation is Black/African American gay and bisexual men.
Hiv Virus Infection Stage
Acute HIV infection occurs between 24 weeks of HIV infection. Fever, headache, and rash are common symptoms. HIV multiplies swiftly and spreads throughout the body in the acute stage. The virus assaults and destroys the immune systems CD4 cells . The blood in HIV is exceptionally high during acute HIV infection, increasing the risk of HIV transmission. Starting ART at this period may provide significant health benefits.
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Advice If You’re Pregnant
HIV treatment is available to prevent you passing HIV to your child.
Without treatment, there’s a 1 in 4 chance your baby will become infected with HIV. With treatment, the risk is less than 1 in 100 .
Advances in treatment mean there’s no increased risk of passing the virus to your baby with a normal delivery.
But in some cases, a caesarean section may still be recommended, often for reasons not related to your HIV.
Discuss the risks and benefits of each delivery method with the staff at your HIV clinic. The final decision about how your baby is delivered is yours, and staff will respect that decision.
If you have HIV, do not breastfeed your baby as the virus can be transmitted through breast milk.
Where Can I Get Information About Treatment
If you do not have a healthcare provider or would like information on how to find an HIV-knowledgeable doctor, you can search here for HIV treatment and services provided by Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program medical providers. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program provides HIV primary medical care, drug treatment support, and essential support services to low income people living with HIV.
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Factors That Reduce Life Expectancy
But there are challenges that can take back many of those gains. From an individual perspective, longevity is subject to numerous factors that can either increase or decrease life expectancy in a person with HIV. These factors range from things we can control to things we can’t .
Moreover, HIV is really only part of the long-term concern. Even for those able to maintain an undetectable viral load, the risk of non-HIV-associated diseases, like cancer and heart disease, is far greater than in the general population and can occur anywhere from 10 to 15 years earlier.
So profound are these concerns that a person with HIV is far more likely to die prematurely of a non-HIV-related illness than an HIV-related one.
What Other Kinds Of Care Do People With Hiv Need
Even when antiretroviral therapy is available, people living with HIV need other elements of care. In addition to access to HIV treatment, good nutrition, safe water, and basic hygiene are examples of the behaviors and activities needed to ensure a good quality of life for a person living with HIV. Often people with HIV need psychosocial support and counseling family, friends, peers, and support groups can help people that are HIV positive learn how to take care of themselves and lead a prosperous life. You can find more information on all of this at the CDC website.
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What Do I Need To Know About Dating With Hiv
Some people feel like their love lives are over when they find out they have HIV, but its just not true. People with HIV can have fulfilling romantic and sexual relationships. People living with HIV can have relationships with partners who dont have HIV or with partners that are also living with HIV . HIV treatment helps keep you healthy and helps you avoid passing HIV to someone else. If your partner does not have HIV, they can also take a medicine called PrEP that can help protect them from getting HIV through sex.
Its important to tell your sexual partners about your HIV status. That way, you and your partners can make more informed decisions about safer sex, testing, and treatment that are right for the both of you.
Its normal to be worried about how your partners going to react. And theres no way around it: some people might get freaked out. If that happens, try to stay calm and talk about your plan to stay healthy and how they can stay HIV negative. It might help to give your partner a little time and space to process. You could also suggest they talk with your HIV doctor about ways to protect themselves from HIV.
If you tell someone you have HIV and they hurt you, shame you, or make you feel bad, its not ok. You deserve to be with someone who respects and cares about you, and there are plenty of people out there who will.