be>AIDS: Get Treated

ANTIRETROVIRAL TREATMENTS FOR HIV DISEASE

As compared to the early days of the epidemic, things are much different today: with care and treatment it is possible to live a long, healthy life with HIV. And it's all thanks to a major medical breakthroughs notably the development of combination antiretroviral therapy in the mid-1990s. What is it? Basically, it's the combination of at least three medicines that attack different stages of the process of HIV replication; this combination has shown to dramatically slow the disease process. In fact, when therapy is optimally effective, standard diagnostic tests may not be able to detect HIV in the body. This is what is known as having "undetectable viral load." Note that having an undetectable viral load does not mean that there is no virus in the body. Rather, it means that the amount of virus is so low that the diagnostic test cannot detect it.

And the good news is that the FDA has approved more than 30 different antiretroviral compounds for doctors to prescribe. But not every person responds to the medicines the same way. If a particular combination isn't effective, there are others your doctor can prescribe until you achieve the best results.

GETTING ACCESS TO MEDICAL CARE

To get the most from medical care, you'll need an ongoing and trusting relationship with a health care provider who has experience treating HIV. Antiretroviral medicines are expensive. There are some options for financial assistance for those who need it. One is the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, or ADAP. ADAP is administered by your state health department, and is largely funded through the federal Ryan White program. You can get information about the ADAP program in your state through your local health department or a local AIDS service organization.

ADHERING TO TREATMENT

It's an absolute no-no to miss doses or stop your medicines without counsel of a health care provider. Doing so may make therapy less effective and allow the virus to become more virulent or even resistant to future treatment.

For some people, HIV medicines can be hard to take. Different medications work for different people, and some people do experience various side effects. However, treatment regimens have significantly improved since they first emerged in the mid-1990s. For most people today, antiretroviral regimens are much easier to take with fewer side effects.