HAART HIV Treatment

This article is about the use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in the treatment of HIV. It is intended for those on or about to start HAART and for those who want to learn more about the topic. Details about antiretrovirals and HAART are given along with why HAART is used and where to get the treatment.

What is an antiretroviral?

An antiretroviral drug is used in the treatment of diseases caused by retroviruses. In the case of HIV these drugs are used to slow down its replication to a rate where the immune system is still effective against other threats and opportunistic infections.

The antiretrovirals do this by preventing the virus from replicating, stopping it from infecting immune cells or by stopping it from integrating itself into their DNA. These and antiretrovirals using other methods may be used in combination to form a HAART regimen.

What is HAART?

The HAART method uses multiple (usually three) antiretrovirals in combination to slow down the progression of the disease. More than one antiretroviral is used to reduce the likelihood of the virus developing resistance to the treatment. Drugs using different methods of combating the virus are also used to further reduce this risk. This helps to improve the long term efficacy of HAART.

The HAART regime first used by a patient may be changed at a later date as the virus adapts to the drugs used to combat it. Another reason for changing the antiretrovirals used may be the reduction of side effects experienced by the user.

Why do I need HAART?

The use of HAART for those suffering with HIV is well established as a way to vastly increase their survival rate. If the patient has access to the required HIV medication it makes HIV a chronic but manageable disease for many people. These improvements are part of why many people infected with HIV feel that a HAART regimen is the right choice for them. Without treatment the likelihood of death due to the infection is much increased.

Where to get HAART

If you have tested positive for HIV the usual places to get treatment are your GP, genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics and HIV clinics. If you have tested positive you will usually receive further information about HIV and where to go for further treatment from those doing the testing.

You should also be given information about the various treatment combinations available to you, although you are not required to start taking them until the virus begins weakening your immune system. HAART treatment is available on the NHS in the UK.

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