Options for Treating HIV

The following article is useful for anyone seeking information on the current common treatment options for HIV. It gives details on the common treatments used in both the early and later stages of HIV infection.

What treatments are available for HIV?

Unfortunately there are currently no known cures for a person who has caught HIV. Claims of a cure should be treated with extreme caution as con artists regularly tout cures which have no effect or are actively detrimental to a patients health.

Early treatment may involve the use of post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment to prevent an HIV infection from developing after exposure to the virus. After this, treatment with antiretroviral drugs is standard practice to slow the progression of the infection. Combinations of at least three different antiretrovirals are used in a treatment called highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). 

PEP HIV treatment

PEP is a course of drugs that can be taken within 72 hours of being exposed to HIV in the hope that it will prevent the disease from developing within the patients body. It is given to those who are confirmed to be HIV negative after an HIV test and who are deemed to be at a high risk of developing the disease after taking part in risky activity.

The course of PEP drugs is taken over a period of 28 days. The sooner they are taken after exposure the more effective the treatment is in preventing the disease. This means that PEP treatment should be sought out and started as quickly as possible after exposure.

PEP treatment is available from some accident and emergency departments within the UK and is also available from sexual health clinics. A history will be taken to determine the likelihood of your exposure leading to HIV infection. Questions about topics such as your sexual history, precautions taken such as condom use and possible needle stick injuries will be asked to try to determine this.

HAART HIV treatment

HAART treatment consists of the use of at least three different antiretroviral drugs in combination with each other. This has the effect of reducing the HIV levels in the body to such an extent that the immune system is still capable of fighting off disease. A combination of drugs are used to prevent the virus from developing immunity to them.

If the virus becomes resistant to the prescribed combination of drugs or if the side effects of the current treatment are bad enough a different combination of antiretrovirals may be used. This will improve the efficacy of the treatment and may have the effect of reducing side effects for the patient.

HAART treatment can be obtained from your GP, local genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic or HIV clinic. It is only likely to be recommended after the virus has begun weakening your immune system, but is available on the NHS.

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