HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a progressive and incurable infection that weakens and damages the body’s immune system. If left untreated, HIV can evolve into AIDS and be fatal.
Although there is no cure for HIV, there are treatments available that can help manage the virus—many of which have proven to be successful in suppressing or slowing down growth of the infection and prolonging life expectancy. Your doctor will be able to help you develop a treatment regimen based on your medical history and stage of the virus.
Here is an overview of treatment options that are available for controlling HIV.
Treatment begins with a one-on-one consultation with your doctor. You will be given a physical exam after answering questions about your medical history. Most likely, your doctor will order medical tests in order to judge how your immune system is currently affected by the virus.
A CD4 test and a viral load test, are the two most important tests you will undergo. Medication options vary depending on the individual. Therefore, you will also take a drug resistance test that will help your doctor determine the best options for you.
The recommended and most successful treatment for HIV is antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART treatment is a combination of antiretroviral drugs that work together to suppress the virus. ART has proven to be successful, suppressing the viral load of 77% of people taking the medication combination. ART has reduced rates of death and infection, especially when used in early stages of HIV.
Clinical trials are studies that test new medical treatments and determine whether they are safe and effective for treating HIV. Participants volunteer with the understanding that trials may cause unknown risks and side effects. However, in some cases, volunteers may benefit from a study, even with those risks present. Studies include testing new medicines to treat HIV. A recent clinical study, PRO 140, boasts a 98% success rate.
An HIV diagnosis does not mean your life is over. But because the virus is at this time incurable, treatment requires a long-term commitment. It is possible for treatment to control HIV as a chronic condition instead of as a progressive one that turns into AIDS. However, positive results depend on commitment and consistency.