Treatment of HIV

The treatment will reinforce your immune system. Thanks to the treatment you will have more or less the same life expectancy as other people your age who do not have HIV and are otherwise healthy. In addition, there will be very little chance of your passing on your HIV to others.

Treatment

Treatment takes place in an HIV treatment centre. That is usually in a hospital. Don't postpone your first visit by more than one or two weeks after you first hear the diagnosis. The treatment consists of HIV inhibitors: medications that inhibit the replication of HIV.  You will not be cured of HIV, but thanks to the treatment you will have a “chronic HIV infection”, which is something that you can grow old with. Fortunately, side-effects don't last very long in most cases. If the side-effects don't go away, you can always switch medications.

Start immediately

The best advice is to start taking HIV medications immediately, regardless of how strong your immune system is. If your CD4 cell count gets down 500 or less, which means your immune system is severely weakened, your doctor will advise you to start taking HIV inhibitors no matter what. If you want to start getting treatment immediately – for example because you find it hard to use condoms, but you don't want to infect your sex partners – you have a right to receive it.

If you were only very recently infected (less than eight weeks ago), don't wait any longer: get treated immediately! It will be a beautiful opportunity for you to keep your immune system more or less completely intact. That will give you the very best chances of living a long and healthy life with HIV.

At the same time every day

The goal of the treatment is to reduce your viral load (i.e. the amount of HIV in your blood) until it becomes undetectable. Your immune system will recover and your chances of passing your HIV on to others will be practically eliminated.

You will need to keep it that way for the rest of your life by continuing to take medications every day to keep HIV out of your bloodstream. It is important that you take your HIV medications at approximately the same time every day, as prescribed. Closely following the instructions in this way is known as therapy compliance. That is the only way to prevent HIV from causing damage to your body. By complying with the therapy you will also prevent the virus from becoming resistant to your medication.

Blips

In rare cases, the virus may become briefly detectable, before becoming undetectable again. Such a brief change is known as a “blip”. A blip will not necessarily have any consequences for your treatment.

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