Percentage of Latinos living with HIV who have achieved an undetectable viral load*
(*) Low amount of HIV in the blood so can not be detected
Starting and Staying in Treatment
If you are HIV positive, treatment is your best option.
Should I start HIV treatment?
Yes. Starting treatment is one of the most important steps you can take. Starting treatment will help keep the virus from growing and multiplying in your body and bring viral load to a level where it is cannot be passed through sex. In addition to improving health, treatment will also help prevent the spread of the disease. While there is no cure for HIV, treatment reduces the amount of virus in your body. While you will always have HIV, you can live a long and healthy life.
What will be my treatment goal?
Your goal will be achieving an undetectable viral load. Taking HIV medicine every day can lower your viral load to the point you can have undetectable viral load -when the amount of HIV in the blood is so low it can’t be detected. That is why it is important to be adherent and take HIV medicine every day as prescribed. Being undetectable will eliminate the risk of passing HIV to a sexual partner. This is known as U=U.
Will I get side effects by taking HIV meds?
Almost all medications, including HIV medications (called ARVs for antiretrovirals), have side effects. When you first start treatment for HIV, you may experience headaches, an upset stomach, fatigue, and/or aches and pains. For most people, these side effects usually go away after a brief adjustment period. Your doctor can help you determine the best treatment plan for you.
How soon should I start HIV treatment?
Given the benefits, it is advised that you begin treatment as soon as diagnosed. Early diagnosis and treatment improves health, extends life and can eliminate the risk of passing the virus to other sexual partners. If you test positive for HIV, make starting treatment a priority. Talk with your doctor about the best course of care for you. Remember, treatment means you are taking care of your health.
How much does HIV treatment cost?
Many insurance plans cover prescription drugs, though coverage for HIV varies by plan. Medicaid, the state-run health program for lower-income persons, covers all FDA-approved prescription antiretrovirals (ARVs). For people who do not have insurance, the federal “AIDS Drug Assistance Program” (ADAP), administrated by state health departments, may be an option for you.
For how long do I need to be on HIV treatment?
Once you start HIV treatment, it is important to continue taking your medications as directed by your doctor, even if you feel good. Many doctors today recommend that patients with HIV remain on treatment even when their viral loads are low. Some patients’ viral loads go way up when they stop their medications and others develop resistance to certain medications if they aren’t taken consistently.
5 steps that can help you start treament and keep going.
HIV Treatment Works
Treatment campaign by the CDC for people living with HIV
Let’s Stop HIV Together
HIV awareness and anti-estigma campaign by the CDC
Learn more about HIV treatment
- preventionaccess.org – Social Marketing Campaign behind the Undetectable = Untransmittable campaign (preventionaccess.org)
- greaterthan.org – Stay Healthy, Protect Others (greaterthan.org/treat/)
- CDC – Living with HIV (cdc.gov/hiv/basics/livingwithhiv/index.html)
- hiv.gov – HIV Treatment as Prevention (hiv.gov/hiv-basics/hiv-prevention/using-hiv-medication-to-reduce-risk/hiv-treatment-as-prevention)
- hiv.gov – Taking Your HIV Medications Every Day (hiv.gov/hiv-basics/staying-in-hiv-care/hiv-treatment/taking-your-hiv-medications-every-day)
- Avert.com – Living with HIV (avert.org/living-with-hiv)
- helpstopthevirus.com – 3 Ways HIV treatment can help(helpstopthevirus.com/hiv-treatment)
- thebody.com – Starting HIV treatment (thebody.com/content/63257/starting-hiv-treatment.html)
- greaterthan.org – Affordable Care Act and HIV (greaterthan.org/campaigns/health-coverage-hiv-you/the-affordable-care-act-and-hiv/)