HIV Treatment Options

In the mid-1990s, effective treatment for HIV infection became available in Australia. HIV is now considered a manageable condition. Many people now work with their doctor and begin treatment early to ensure the virus does not overwhelm their immune system. This means very few people in Australia now progress to developing AIDS-related illnesses and live long healthy lives.

Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART)

Treatment for HIV involves a combination of drugs that perform different functions in preventing HIV from damaging the immune system. There are different classes of drugs, each with their own function at managing HIV, which may be used in varied combinations.
Treatment can be different for each person living with HIV. The number of pills and treatment may change over time based on other health needs or conditions that may arise. It’s important to work with your doctor to find the combination of treatments that works for you.
Unlike early HIV treatments that caused severe side effects, today’s treatments have very few side effects and there is a wide range of options to choose from to find the right treatments that suit you.

Sticking to your treatment

For treatment to be effective, it’s important to stick to the regimen you and your doctor discuss. All medications have specific instructions on when or how they’re taken. Talking this through with your doctor is important so that you choose the treatment that is right for you.
It’s also important to discuss any issues or concerns you may have regarding your HIV treatment. This may include, but are not be limited to:

• Your working hours
• Meal times
• Ability to remember taking your medications
• Other health conditions and medications you may be taking
• Your financial situation*

Side effects can also impact how difficult or easy it is to maintain your HIV treatment. Some therapies have side effects, which may be minor and pass quickly. Always speak with your doctor about side effects to see how they can be managed and to change your treatment if needed.
It’s also important to try and maintain and healthy lifestyle and maintain your physical and mental health and wellbeing.

*If you are facing financial issues and this is impacting your ability to purchase medication, contact the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation who can offer emergency financial assistance.

If you miss or forget to take medication

It is important to take your medications as prescribed. If you miss too many doses, HIV can start to multiply again, which may lead to developing drug resistance against your current treatment. This may mean that you have to change to more complicated treatment medications.
If you regularly miss or forget to take your medication, have a chat with your doctor who can suggest ways you may be able to make it easier to stick to your schedule.

Starting treatment

The decision on when to start treatment is yours to make, but research from several large scale clinical research studies conducted around the world show that when people start treatment sooner the more likely they are to maintain a healthy life and reduce their viral load level to undetectable. People on HIV treatment with an undetectable viral load cannot pass HIV on!

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