Latest Progress on HIV Treatment

Although there is no for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), it is possible for an infected person to live a normal life for many years with the right treatment. The goal of the treatment is to slow the progress of the virus and to avoid the complications that come with a weakened immune system. After all, HIV-infected person will not die from the virus itself but from other opportunistic illnesses that the body cannot fight off.

Below is an overview of the treatments for HIV you might be able to get if you tested positive for the virus.

What are the types of drugs for treating HIV?

Currently there are five classes of medication to treat HIV. The method is collectively called antiretroviral therapy which indicate the main purpose of the drugs. Since HIV is a retrovirus, it means that the RNA of the HIV inserts it DNA copy into the host cell to replicate. ART will then block the virus from doing this to slow down its progress.

Which medication should you take?

Most doctors will recommend that a person who has tested positive for HIV should start taking medication immediately regardless of the CD4 T cell count. A combination of three medications from two classes is the standard in most hospitals in order to prevent the virus from creating a drug-resistant strain.

What are the classes of ART?

NNRTI or non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors prevents copying by turning off a protein; PI or protease inhibitors will inactivate the protease so the virus can’t make copies; NRTI or nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors have incorrect copies of the HIV; integrase inhibitors disable integrase, the protein that is inserted into the CD4 T cells; and entry/fusion inhibitors blocks the entry of the virus into the CD4 T cells.

Do you need to take medications for HIV?

Antiviral medication must be offered regardless of the CD4 T cell count, especially if it is under 350. If you also have complications or other conditions that might be aggravated by a weak immune system, you must get treated right away. Without the medication, you are vulnerable to opportunistic infections.

Are there any side effects?

Because the medication is a lifetime commitment, you have to expect that there will be side effects. Majority of the people getting the treatment suffer only from mild side effects, so correct combinations must be determined.

Regular checkups with the doctor should be observed to monitor the progress of the virus and treat other side effects such as high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol levels, weakened bones, and possible heart diseases. You CD4 T cell count and viral load must also be checked every six months.

Can a pregnant woman get treatment?

To prevent transmission of the virus from mother to child, the mother must be treated as early as possible. The baby will also receive treatment for up to six weeks after birth. Most medication for HIV are safe for pregnant women and studies show that there are no risks for birth defects.