Fact Sheet: Treatment Information
December 1, 2000
There's Good News, But . . .While there is still no cure for HIV/AIDS, new treatment drugs are dramatically prolonging the lives of many HIV-positive people and making them feel healthy. For some, however, the drugs have side effects that may prevent people from taking them. For others, the drugs simply do not work. Also, the long-term effectiveness of new drugs are relatively unknown. In addition, HIV-positive people with no health insurance can not afford these costly drugs.
Drug Combination TherapiesDrug combination therapies are often referred to as "highly active anti-retroviral therapies" (HAART). They are also called "drug cocktails" and include drugs such as protease inhibitors.
Viral Load TestsPhysicians use viral load testing to monitor the progress of the HIV and to help decide if or when to change medications. The goal of treatment is to keep the blood level of HIV at an undetectable level. However, an undetectable level does not mean that someone is no longer infected with HIV. HIV does still remain in the body.
The Risks of Skipping DosesIt can be very challenging to take all the HAART medications in the correct manner. People who follow their drug schedule precisely have the best outcomes. Those who miss doses of any of their drugs put themselves at risk for getting sicker and for developing drug-resistant strains of HIV.
Staying Healthy LongerPeople who are HIV-positive can live healthy, productive lives for many years. Here are strategies to help you stay healthy longer:
Opportunistic InfectionsDepending on the CD4 count, an individual infected with HIV may be at increased risk for developing other diseases due to a weakened immune system. Some possible opportunistic infections include tuberculosis, pneumonia, cytomegalovirus (CMV), toxoplasmosis and cryptosporidiosis.
HIV and Hepatitis CA serious new challenge for AIDS patients is co-infection with HIV and Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C is the most common blood-borne infection in the U.S.. It can lead to liver scarring or cancer. Injection Drug Use (IDU) and hemophilia are the most important risk factors for HCV infection.
HIV and TuberculosisTuberculosis (TB) is a disease that affects the lungs primarily. Because HIV infection severely weakens the immune system, people infected with HIV have a significant risk of developing active TB.
HIV and DiabetesPeople who take the new AIDS drugs have a tendency to develop diabetes, a disease that prevents the body from using insulin to control blood sugar.
This article was provided by American Association for World Health. It is a part of the publication AIDS: All Men -- Make a Difference!.