A positive test result for HIV is an event that changes your life forever. However, new advances in medicine have changed what a diagnosis means. While in the early years of HIV and AIDS a positive result was nearly a death sentence, today drug combinations bring hope for living a more normal life even ten or more years after initial diagnosis. Read on to learn what you need to know about these HIV treatments.
While there currently is no cure for HIV, continuing advances in disease research open a range of possible treatment options for the virus. For example, Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors create faulty blocks that the virus needs to replicate and spread. Protease inhibitors and Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors disable proteins used by HIV to replicate. Entry inhibitors and Integrase inhibitors block the virus from entering CD4 cells. Typically these kinds of drugs are combined in order to have a greater impact on the virus. Using drug combinations also helps ensure that the virus does not adapt as quickly to any one type of medication.
While HIV treatments continue to grow more effective, side effects are still common. Effects will vary depending on the type of treatment used, but may include shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, rashes, bone loss or bone death, abnormal heart rhythms and diarrhea.
When starting treatment, it’s important to work with your doctor to ensure your HIV medications do not interact negatively with prescriptions you may already be taking. The most common issue is with hormone treatments or contraceptives, but interactions may also occur with medications used to treat hepatitis C and tuberculosis.
Because of the list of known side effects related to HIV medications, some choose to wait to start treatment until absolutely necessary. Before making this decision it’s important to understand that the longer HIV is left unchecked, the longer it has to replicate in the body.
Starting treatment sooner helps to control the virus, lengthening the time between infection and progression to AIDS, as well as lengthening your lifespan. In the end, the choice is yours, but it’s generally recommended that you not wait past a CD4 count of under 500. For more information on treatment timing as well as testing for HIV, visit Clovis Urgent Care Medical Testing or a medical provider near you.
The most important thing to know about HIV treatment is that while there is currently no cure, in most cases treatments dramatically lengthen and improve the quality of your life compared to those who do not seek treatment. Additionally, new drug research continues to provide a real hope for the future for those living with HIV and AIDS.