antiretroviral therapy, or artIt is a safe and proven method of treating HIV. Your doctor will ask you to start right away – usually on the same day you are diagnosed. This is called rapid initiation of antiretroviral therapy. Early and effective treatment can help you live a normal life. It can also reduce the chances of transmitting the virus to another person.
The sooner you start ART, the better. This is true even if you feel fine.
“There’s no upside to waiting,” says Shannon Galvin, MD, associate clinical professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Northwestern Medicine. “Everyone who has human immunodeficiency virus They will benefit from treatment, no matter how many T-cells they have.”
Effective antiretrovirals can greatly reduce your viral load the blood The tests will not be able to find it. It doesn’t just make you okay. This means that there is not much chance of sexually transmitting the virus to another person. This is called “undetectable equals undetectable.” If you reach this state quickly, you may feel more in control and hopeful about your condition, says Gregory Hohn, MD, professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Rush University Medical Center.
ART can help you stay healthy. But it is not a cure for HIV. You will need to take your medicine every day. If you have questions about your treatment, talk to your doctor before you begin. They can help you find a plan that works for you.
How does ART treat HIV?
This combo of drugs It can lower the amount of HIV in your blood, which is called viral load. This maintains your CD4 count. The higher this number, the more T cells you have and the better immune system Works. ART also reduces the immune activation associated with HIV. This is it ignition can hurt you heartAnd the brainbones and other organs.
Essentially, ART reduces your chance of contracting HIV. This helps you live longer.
“If you take a 20-year-old with a CD4 count above 500, who starts ART immediately after diagnosis – and they don’t have Hepatitis Bor C or other comorbidities – their life expectancy is the same as a person without HIV.
Who Should Start ART Immediately?
In the past, doctors gave fast-starting ART to people with very low CD4 cell counts. But now, anyone with HIV is more likely to get it. “We have strong data showing that everyone[with HIV]lives a longer, healthier life if they take antiretrovirals,” Galvin says.
ART is more important for certain groups. It includes people who:
- be pregnant. You are less likely to pass HIV to your child if you have an undetectable viral load. If you are already on antiretroviral therapy, keep taking the medication. But if you’re not, talk to your doctor about how to start treatment right away.
- You have a low CD4 count. People with a CD4 count of less than 200 are at increased risk of developing the disease. In fact, this low CD4 cell count means that you have AIDS.
- You have a defined AIDS status. These are infections and precancerous diseases that are especially dangerous for people with HIV.
Should anyone delay ART?
There are very few people who should wait to start ART, Hon says. But sometimes you may need to treat certain infections first.
Your doctor may postpone ART if you have:
Hon says your doctor may also want to treat any serious mental health conditions first. Untreated psychological or substance use problems can make it difficult for you to keep up with treatment.
What if you’re not ready?
It is normal for it to take some time for your condition to be diagnosed. It is still considered a quick start if you start ART within 7 days. The most important thing is to be prepared to stay with treatment as soon as it begins. “There are a few people who have to think about it, and they should be given that opportunity,” Galvin says. “We just want to make sure we’re starting something that we have a plan to follow.”
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