Advice on Treating Patients with HIV

doctors-2If infected by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), there is no cure. Treatments are available to manage symptoms of HIV-associated illnesses and slow down the virus activity in the bloodstream. Many people infected with HIV respond successfully to treatment and live healthy lives.

The sooner an HIV infection is identified, the earlier treatment may be provided to improve quality of life and prevent shortened lifespan. A blood test confirms whether an individual is HIV positive or not. CD4 cells in the blood are measured to determine severity of HIV infection. Infection with HIV can be prevented if emergency treatment is accessed within a 72 hour time-frame.

Emergency Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) Medication

Emergency HIV treatment clinic is available to prevent infection onset within 72 hours. The post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) medication may only prevent viral infection if commenced within 72 hours of exposure to the  human immunodeficiency virus. PEP is available at sexual health clinics, HIV clinics, and hospital emergency units.

Treatments for HIV Infection

HIV infection may set in if PEP treatment is not received within 72 hours. Testing for HIV may be conducted at a sexual health clinic or HIV clinic. If HIV positive is confirmed and impacts the immune system, the following life-long treatments may be provided:

  • Antiretroviral (ARVs) Medications
  • Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) or Combination Therapy

Antiretroviral (ARVs) Medications

ARVs reduce the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus via the bloodstream. A single ARV medication may be used to treat HIV to prevent weakening of the immune system and onset of HIV-associated illnesses.

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Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) or Combination Therapy

Treatments combining multiple ARVs are provided if an individual’s body becomes resistant to one ARV medication. The virus may adapt and negate ARV treatment effects. Combining one or more ARVs reduces likelihood of resistance to treatment.

Pregnant women may be treated with ARVs to prevent transmission of HIV to the infant via body fluids and breast milk. The healthcare provider discusses HIV treatments and effects with the infected individual so that all aspects of care and living with HIV are understood.