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HIV Medications: The Basics
Part of HIV Medications: When to Start and What to Take

December 2010

HIV Medications: The Basics

HIV treatment has come a long, long way. Just 10 years ago, starting HIV treatment meant taking a handful of medications several times a day. It also meant dealing with some potentially serious side effects. But with each passing year, researchers develop new medications and improve on existing ones. As a result, HIV treatment today is safer and more effective than it's ever been. HIV treatment is the single best way to prevent HIV from damaging your body—and to repair some of the damage HIV may have already done.


Nonetheless, determining when it's time to begin HIV treatment and deciding which medications to take are both big decisions. HIV medications may be safer and more effective than ever, but they still bring their own risks. That's why it's important that you arm yourself with as much reliable information as possible. And it's equally important to find an experienced HIV doctor who you can trust to help you make important decisions about your HIV treatment and overall health care. (You can ask an HIV/AIDS service organization or case manager in your area for help finding a good HIV doctor. You can also use our search tool at to find an organization near you.)

At least once every three to six months, you should visit your HIV care provider for a checkup. This will help you both stay on top of your health and make treatment adjustments as needed. As you begin to think about starting HIV treatment, there are many issues to consider. We hope this booklet will help guide you through the process!

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