antiretroviral therapy

While there is no cure for the dreaded human immunodeficiency virus, treatment methods have seen a tremendous improvement in the recent years. Medical advancements have now allowed people to live longer and more actively with HIV. However, before treatment starts, you have to inform your doctor about previous health issues and illnesses. Notify them about alternative or complementary therapies or supplemental drugs that you are taking.

Antiretroviral Therapy (ART)

HIV antiretroviral drug pillAntiretroviral drugs are designed to treat HIV. There are more than two dozen of them and are classified into six types, each fighting the virus in your body in a slightly different manner. According to research, combining drugs is the best way to control HIV and reduce the risk that the virus becomes resistant to the treatment. Doctors may probably prescribe three different medicines from two of the groups. The prescription will depend on various factors such as current or future medical conditions, state of your immune system, or the number of pills you like to take daily. The doctor may also prescribe medicine for any health problems caused by or related to HIV.

Side Effects

Getting treated using ART can have side effects. However, newer medications do not usually have any side effects, which could include the following:

  • Feeling queasy or throwing up
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Skin rashes
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Pain, numbness, or tingling

The good news is that these side effects will go away once your body gets adjusted to the medication. If the side effects become bothersome, consult your doctor. They might change prescription to reduce the impact.

HIV Treatment in Infants and Children

Although there has been a reduction in the rates of children getting infected by their mothers, the United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNIAIDS) estimates the number of children under 15 years old living with AIDS worldwide at 1.8 million in 2016.

The agency is supportive of research efforts for drugs, doses, and formulation deemed safe and effective treatment for pediatric patients whose reaction to medication will depend on their age, size, and organ function.

Treating Co-Infections and Complications

Aside from the treatment targeting the virus, people living with HIV may also be treated for complications and conditions related to well-controlled HIV infection. This may include medication for treating and preventing infections commonly seen in people living with HIV.

Staying on ART Is Crucial

Thanks to antiretroviral treatment, the once fatal infection has been transformed into a manageable chronic condition. Starting antiretroviral therapy in the soonest time possible after getting diagnosed and staying on treatment is essential for controlling HIV. NIAID-assisted research contributed to the optimization of antiretroviral drug regimens as well as in realizing the importance of early treatment and strict adherence.

The Future of HIV Treatment Research

The major objective of NIAID-supported research on HIV treatment is to develop long term therapies. At the moment, antiretroviral treatments could be taken once a week, once a month, or less often. With the long-acting treatment, it might be easier for the patient to stick to daily dosage and might also be less fatal and more cost effective. Currently, there are three types of agents being studied. They are long-acting drugs, broadly neutralizing antibodies, and therapeutic vaccines.