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Treatment for HIV

Today, there are many medications that can actually treat HIV!  However, no cure and no vaccine exists to eradicate the virus.  In addition, how much you adhere to your medication and other factors can contribute to the effectiveness of treatment. That means that people who might live on the street or in an area where HIV medications are not covered by their provincial or state drug plans may face difficulties adhering to medications and may experience poor reactions to the medications.

Currently, there are six classes of drugs with over 20 drugs now available. The five classes are:

The most common are the first three classes.

Depending on circumstances, people living with HIV can talk to their doctors to try out a combination that works for them. Most medications have side-effects and can range from negligible side-effects to very severe side-effects.  A person living with HIV and their doctors can discuss the individuals situations to come up with a plan to stay on track with medications and maintain an appropriate quality of life. There is no cure for HIV infection-at least, not yet. However, there are medications for treating HIV, called antiretroviral drugs . When used properly, these medications allow your immune system to maintain/rebuild its strength so you can stay healthy.

HIV treatment means taking the right combination of antiretroviral drugs-usually at least three. These drug combinations are often called ART (antiretroviral therapy) or HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy).

The goal of HIV treatment is to block the viral replication process. When you start treatment, the "assembly line" for building HIV slows dramatically and very little new virus gets produced from that point onward. The overall amount of HIV in your body-your viral load-starts to drop, your CD4 cell count starts to rise, the risk of serious infections drops, and many of the other symptoms that can come with HIV start to go away. Most people's viral loads fall to undetectable levels within months of starting treatment. Remember, though: there is still no cure for HIV infection, and an "undetectable" viral load does not mean that the virus is gone.

Currently, there are 7 classes of drugs with over 30 drugs now available. The 7 classes are:

People living with HIV should work with a health care provider to find a treatment combination that works for them.

Contact the AIDS PEI office for more treatment information. Alternatively, CATIE is a great resource for HIV information. Visit www.catie.ca. - email questions@catie.ca or call 1-800-263-1638.

Contact us for more treatment information or view any resources available at www.catie.ca.


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