25 Things You Need to Do if You Have HIV
19. When you start antiretrovirals (HIV medications), pick one of the combinations recommended in guidelines.
HIV experts recommend certain HIV medications for initial combinations based on careful studies of their strength and safety.1 Virtually everyone starting HIV medications for the first time can take one of the preferred, alternative, or acceptable combinations listed by these experts. Which combination you start will depend on the side effects of different regimens, your tolerance of certain side effects, and whether you are infected with HIV resistant to some antiretrovirals.
20. Get a viral load test when you start care and regularly thereafter, regardless of when you start antiretroviral therapy (HIV medications).
US authorities on antiretroviral therapy strongly recommend viral load testing before antiretroviral therapy begins and routinely during treatment.20 The panel notes that "viral load is the most important indicator of response to antiretroviral therapy ... [It] serves as a surrogate marker for treatment response and can be useful in predicting clinical progression."
21. Talk to your HIV provider about whether you need certain vaccines, including human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, influenza vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine, tetanus vaccine, and varicella vaccine.
Your HIV provider will review which vaccines you've had and which you need to protect you from diseases like human papillomavirus (HPV) infection (which can lead to genital warts, cervical cancer, anal cancer, and other cancers), influenza, pneumonia, tetanus, and varicella zoster virus (VZV) infection (which causes chickenpox and herpes zoster).1,2
For more information on HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection, see the Centers for Disease Control's Genital HPV Infection Fact Sheet at www.cdc.gov/std/. For CDC information on varicella (chickenpox and shingles) see www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases/list_varicl.htm.
As noted in point 14 above, HIV-positive people not already exposed to hepatitis A or B should have vaccines for those infections.
This article was provided by The Center for AIDS Information & Advocacy. Visit CFA's website to find out more about their activities and publications.
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