Once a person is diagnosed as having HIV they are advised to start antiretroviral treatment (ART).
These drugs treat HIV, allowing patients to live an improved quality of life. However, the treatment is not a cure as there is currently no cure for HIV.
Reasons to Start and Stay on treatment (ART)
The benefits of starting and staying on treatment are numerous:
- ART works by keeping the level of HIV in the body low (viral load). This lets the immune system recover and stay strong.
- Keeping the viral load low also helps to prevent HIV being passed on.
- With good healthcare and treatment, many people with HIV are living just as long as people who don’t have HIV.
- HIV infected people can continue to have relationships, to work or study, to make plans and to have families.
- Effective treatment also means that some people living with HIV are achieving an undetectable viral load. This means that the virus exists in such small quantities in their blood that it does not affect their health.
But stopping the medication results in the viral load going back up again.
- Antiretroviral treatment also lowers your viral load, which makes it less likely that HIV will be passed on. For this reason, it is important that all women with HIV who are pregnant or breastfeeding, take treatment to prevent HIV being passed on to their babies.
Anyone living with HIV who is in a relationship with someone who does not have HIV (a mixed-status relationship) should also consider treatment to prevent HIV transmission.
Source: Avert (Global information and education on HIV and AIDS)