HSO | Basic Information about HIV and Treatment
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Basic Information about HIV and Treatment


HIV treatment involves medication that slows the progression of the virus in the body. HIV is a virus which is called a retrovirus. The drugs used to treat it is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART is advised for everyone living with HIV, regardless of how long they have had the virus or how healthy they are.

Why Is Treatment Important?

HIV treatment reduces the percentage of HIV in your blood to a very low level. This keeps you healthy and prevents illness. There is also a significant prevention benefit. People with HIV who take HIV medication every day as prescribed and maintain an undetectable viral load usually have no risk of sexually transmitting the virus to their HIV-negative partners. This is known as treatment as prevention.

HIV can attack your immune system and can allow different types of infections and cancers to develop if left untreated. Your health care provider might prescribe medicines to counter certain infections. HIV treatment will be successful only when you know what to expect and take your medicines exactly as prescribed.


When To Start HIV Treatment?

A person with HIV should begin ART as soon as he/she is diagnosed. Starting ART slows the progress of HIV and keeps you healthy. If you delay the treatment, the virus will keep harming your immune system and put you at greater risk for developing opportunistic infections that can be dangerous.

Does ART Cause Side Effects?

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) can cause several side effects. However, not everyone will experience the side effects of ART. HIV treatment today have fewer side effects and are less harsh than in the past. The side effects can vary for each type of medicine and from person to person. Some of the side effects can show up once you start medication and may only last a few days or weeks. Some other side effects may start later and last longer. If you are experiencing severe side effects, talk to your health care provider before you miss any doses. Skipping doses can lead to drug resistance, which can harm your health and limit your future treatment options.

Some side effects of ART that are generally reported include:

  • Nausea
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Diarrrhoea
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Pain

Get in touch with your health care provider immediately if you experience problems or if the treatment makes you sick. If side effects make you want to stop taking them altogether, talk to your doctor right away to find solutions.

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