Treatment Options For Hiv
Treatment should begin as soon as possible after a diagnosis of HIV, regardless of viral load.
The main treatment for HIV is antiretroviral therapy, a combination of daily medications that stop the virus from reproducing. This helps protect CD4 cells, keeping the immune system strong enough to take measures against disease.
Antiretroviral therapy helps keep HIV from progressing to AIDS. It also helps reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others.
When treatment is effective, the viral load will be undetectable. The person still has HIV, but the virus is not visible in test results.
However, the virus is still in the body. And if that person stops taking antiretroviral therapy, the viral load will increase again, and the HIV can again start attacking CD4 cells.
Avoiding Exposure To Relevant Body Fluids
To limit the risk of exposure to HIV, reduce contact with blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and other body fluids that can carry the virus.
Frequently and thoroughly washing the skin immediately after coming into contact with body fluids can also reduce the risk of infection.
To prevent transmission, healthcare workers use gloves, masks, protective eyewear, face shields, and gowns when exposure to these fluids is likely, and they follow established procedures.
Early Symptoms Of Hiv
The first few weeks after someone contracts HIV is called the acute infection stage.
During this time, the virus reproduces rapidly. The persons immune system responds by producing HIV antibodies, which are proteins that take measures to respond against infection.
During this stage, some people have no symptoms at first. However, many people experience symptoms in the first month or so after contracting the virus, but they often dont realize HIV causes those symptoms.
This is because symptoms of the acute stage can be very similar to those of the flu or other seasonal viruses, such as:
- they may be mild to severe
- they may come and go
- they may last anywhere from a few days to several weeks
Early symptoms of HIV can include:
- upset stomach
Because these symptoms are similar to common illnesses like the flu, the person who has them might not think they need to see a healthcare provider.
Whether a person has symptoms or not, during this period their viral load is very high. The viral load is the amount of HIV found in the bloodstream.
A high viral load means that HIV can be easily transmitted to someone else during this time.
Initial HIV symptoms usually resolve within a few months as the person enters the chronic, or clinical latency, stage of HIV. This stage can last many years or even decades with treatment.
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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, its important to take your medicines exactly as directed by your doctor. When treatment doesnt work, it is often because HIV has become resistant to the medicine. This can happen if you dont take your medicines correctly.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- Is there any sure way to avoid acquiring HIV?
- What is the best treatment for me?
- How can I avoid getting any infections that will make me very sick?
- How can I find support groups in my community?
- What diagnostic tests will you run?
- How often will I need to see my doctor?
- Will there be any side effects to my treatment?
- How does this affect my plans for having a family?
- Is it safe for me to breastfeed my baby?
- Will using a condom keep my sex partners from acquiring HIV?
- Should I follow a special diet?
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Different Types Of Antiretroviral Drugs
- Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors , such as Retrovir , Ziagen , and Emtriva , which block reverse transcriptase, an enzyme that the virus needs to copy itself
- Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors , such as Sustiva , Intelence , and Viramune , which bind to and alter reverse transcriptase
- CCR5 antagonists , such as Selzentry , which blocks CCR5, a receptor protein on the surface of CD4 cells to which the virus binds in order to enter the cell
- Fusion inhibitors, such as Fuzeon , which also block HIV’s ability to enter CD4 cells
- Protease inhibitors, such as Reyataz , Norvir , and Aptivus , which block protease, an enzyme HIV needs in order to mature, replicate, and infect new CD4 cells
- Integrase strand transfer inhibitors , such as Tivicay and Isentress , which block integrase, an enzyme the virus uses to integrate its genetic material into its host cell’s DNA
- Attachment inhibitors, such as Rukobia , which prevent HIV from entering CD4 cells
- Post-attachment inhibitors, such as Trogarzo , which belong to the larger groups of drugs known as entry inhibitors
Prevention Access Campaign U=u Partner
Michigan Medicine is a community partner with the Prevention Access Campaign to support Undetectable = Untransmittable . U=U means that people living with HIV can feel confident that if they have an undetectable viral load and take their medications as prescribed, they cannot pass on HIV to sexual partners.
In endorsing the U=U message, Michigan Medicine and HATP believe the following:
- We can comfortably say that a person living with HIV, who is on ART and has an undetectable viral load, cannot transmit HIV to sexual partners .
- We agree that the health and prevention benefits of viral suppression are platforms to underscore the importance of universal access to treatment and care for all people living with HIV worldwide.
- We agree that treatment is a personal choice, that treatment is first and foremost for personal health, that there are unjust barriers to accessing treatment, that not all people living with HIV will achieve an undetectable viral load, and there is no place for stigmatizing anyone living with HIV at any viral load.
U=U offers freedom and hope. For many people living with HIV and their partners, U=U opens up social, sexual, and reproductive choices they never thought would be possible. Michigan Medicine and HATP are proud to share the message of U=U with our patients and the wider community.
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How Do The Medicines Work
HIV treatment aims to prevent the reproduction of the virus and thus the attack on the white blood cells . The virus needs several biochemical processes to enable it to penetrate the white blood cells, multiply and then exit the cells to infect new ones. HIV medication prevents or disturbs these processes.
HIV treatment exploits different attack strategies to prevent HIV from multiplying. Some medicines block the virus from the immune cells and others destroy or prevent the virus production within immune cells, or prevent them from leaving in a form where they can attack new cells.
Get Tested And Get Help
There is no cure for HIV, but there are effective treatments that can increase life expectancy. Early diagnosis and treatment of the virus is important to achieve the best possible outcomes. Get tested for HIV, especially if you engage in high-risk behavior. AIDS.gov provides a listing of many government resources for those living with HIV, including locations for testing. The CDC provides similar resources at gettested.cdc.gov or 800-CDC-INFO .
- AIDS.gov: âTesting Sites & Care Services.â
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: âGet Tested: National HIV, STD, and Hepatitis Testing, âHIV/AIDS,ââNational Vital Statistics Reports â Deaths: Final Data for 2014.â
- Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Medicine: âOrigins of HIV and the AIDS Pandemic.â
- HIV.gov: âFast Facts.â
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Hiv Symptoms In Men: Is There A Difference
Symptoms of HIV vary from person to person, but theyre similar in men and women. These symptoms can come and go or get progressively worse.
If a person has been exposed to HIV, they may also have been exposed to other sexually transmitted infections . These include:
While not related to HIV symptoms, another risk for women with HIV is that the virus can be transmitted to a baby during pregnancy. However, antiretroviral therapy is considered safe during pregnancy.
Women who are treated with antiretroviral therapy are at very low risk for transmitting HIV to their baby during pregnancy and delivery. Breastfeeding is also affected in women with HIV. The virus can be transferred to a baby through breast milk.
In the United States and other settings where formula is accessible and safe, its recommended that women with HIV not breastfeed their babies. For these women, use of formula is encouraged.
Options besides formula include pasteurized banked human milk.
For women who may have been exposed to HIV, its important to know what symptoms to look for.
AIDS refers to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. With this condition, the immune system is weakened due to HIV thats typically gone untreated for many years.
If HIV is found and treated early with antiretroviral therapy, a person will usually not develop AIDS.
Symptoms of AIDS can include:
- recurrent fever
HIV does NOT transfer through:
When Is It Time To Start Taking Hiv Medicines
People with HIV should start taking HIV medicines as soon as possible after an HIV diagnosis. It is especially important for people with AIDS-defining conditions or early HIV infection to start HIV medicines right away.
Women with HIV who become pregnant and are not already taking HIV medicines should also start taking HIV medicines as soon as possible.
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How Should I Take My Antiretroviral Treatment
When and how you take your ART will vary depending on the specific antiretroviral drugs you take. Most antiretroviral drugs are taken once a day, with or without food. However, some drugs are taken twice a day. If this might be something you find difficult, talk to your doctor about your options.
Once you start ART its very important that you take it properly and dont miss or skip doses, as this can lead to something called HIV drug resistance, and may mean that your drugs dont work as well for you in the future. If youre finding it hard to take your treatment at the right times and in the right way, speak to your healthcare worker. They can offer you support and give you advice on how to make taking your treatment easier.
How Are Hiv And Aids Treated
The most effective treatment for HIV is antiretroviral therapy . This is a combination of several medicines that aims to control the amount of virus in your body. Antiretroviral medicines slow the rate at which the virus grows. Taking these medicines can reduce the amount of virus in your body and help you stay healthy.
After you start treatment, it’s important to take your medicines exactly as your doctor tells you. 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.
Other steps you can take include the following:
- Keep your immune system strong by eating right, quitting smoking, and learning how to avoid infection.
- Monitor your CD4+ counts to check the effect of the virus on your immune system.
- See a counselor to help you handle the strong emotions and stress that can follow an HIV diagnosis.
- Reduce stress so that you can better manage the HIV illness.
Medical experts recommend that people begin treatment for HIV as soon as they know that they are infected. Treatment is especially important for pregnant women, people who have other infections , and people who have symptoms of AIDS.
Research suggests that treatment of early HIV with antiretroviral medicines has long-term benefits, such as a stronger immune system.
Treatment to prevent HIV infection
Other treatments for HIV
Treatment for AIDS
Living with HIV
If your partner has HIV:
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When Do We/i Know If A Child Is Infected
When a child is born, antibodies are transferred from the mother. The standard HIV test that detects antibodies will initially give a positive result. In a child who is not infected, the antibodies will gradually disappear from the blood by two years of age. Testing the childs blood for viruses earlier with a PCR test will give a good indication of whether or not the child is infected. The first sample is taken a few weeks after birth. If there have been three negative PCR tests by 4-6 months of age, infection can be ruled out and the monitoring can stop.
Is There A Cure For Hiv And Aids
There is no cure for HIV, although antiretroviral treatment can control the virus, meaning that people with HIV can live long and healthy lives.
Most research is looking for a functional cure where HIV is permanently reduced to undetectable and harmless levels in the body, but some residual virus may remain.
Other research is looking for a sterilising cure where HIV is removed from the body completely, but this is more complicated and risky.
Trials of HIV vaccines are encouraging, but so far only offer partial protection.
There is no cure for HIV yet. However, antiretroviral treatment can control HIV and allow people to live a long and healthy life.
For some people, treatment can reduce the level of HIV in their body to such a low amount that they are unable to pass it on . Having an undetectable viral load can keep you healthy, but its not a cure for HIV. To maintain an undetectable viral load a person must keep adhering to their antiretroviral treatment.
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When To Start Hiv Treatment
Its now recommended that everyone diagnosed with HIV starts treatment straight away after being diagnosed.
In the UK, national guidelines set out standards for HIV treatment. They currently recommend that anyone with HIV who is ready to commit to treatment should start it regardless of their CD4 count .
What Are Complications Of An Hiv Infection
Complications of HIV infection most often stem from impairment of the immune system, especially CD-4 lymphocyte-mediated immunity. As HIV enters stage 3, the immune impairment predisposes patients to AIDS-defining conditions such as infections and cancers. With effective treatment, many patients will not progress to stage 3 infection. There is increasing evidence of direct HIV effects on various end organs and indirect effects via HIV-associated inflammation. End-organ damage may occur at all stages of infection. Although ART is effective in prolonging life and reducing the risk of disease progression, all treatment regimens have side effects, which range from minor problems like fatigue to more serious problems like liver damage.
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What Is Hiv Treatment
HIV treatment involves taking medicines that slow the progression of the virus in your body. HIV is a type of virus called a retrovirus, and the combination of drugs used to treat it is called antiretroviral therapy . ART is recommended for all people living with HIV, regardless of how long theyve had the virus or how healthy they are. ART must be taken every day, exactly as your health care provider prescribes.
Initial Combination Regimens For Antiretroviral
An initial antiretroviral regimen generally consists of two nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors in combination with a third active drug from one of the following classes: non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor , protease inhibitor , or an integrase strand transfer inhibitor .
Selection of a regimen should be individualized based on virologic efficacy, potential adverse effects, pill burden, dosing frequency, drug-drug interaction potential, the patient’s resistance test results, comorbid conditions, drug availability, and cost. Clinicians should also discuss patient’s intentions toward pregnancy and perform a pregnancy test before initiating therapy.
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How Do I Know If I Have Hiv
The only way to know for sure if you have HIV is to get tested. Testing is relatively simple. You can ask your health care provider for an HIV test. Many medical clinics, substance abuse programs, community health centers, and hospitals offer them too. You can also buy a home testing kit at a pharmacy or online.
To find an HIV testing location near you, use the HIV Services Locator.
HIV self-testing is also an option. Self-testing allows people to take an HIV test and find out their result in their own home or other private location. You can buy a self-test kit at a pharmacy or online. Some health departments or community-based organizations also provide self-test kits for free.
Read the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations fact sheet on the OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, the only FDA-approved in-home HIV test.
The coronavirus pandemic has made it more difficult for some people to access traditional places where HIV testing is provided. Self-testing allows people to get tested for HIV while still following stay-at-home orders and social distancing practices. Ask your local health department or HIV service organization if they offer self-testing kits.