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Advances in HIV Treatment: Understanding ART

Choosing a Medication

Doctors have quite a few good medications to choose from. So they'll tailor your treatment to you specifically. The right treatment can depend on:

  1. How organized you are. Do you have trouble remembering to take medication? Some treatments are better for people who are more likely to miss a dose now and then.
  2. Your eating habits. You have to take some drugs with food. If you have a very irregular eating pattern, some drugs might not be a good fit.
  3. If you want to get pregnant. Atripla contains the drug efavirenz and isn't safe for women who are breastfeeding, pregnant, or planning to get pregnant.
  4. Other health considerations. Some HIV medications can interact with other drugs, like medications for acid reflux. If you have high cholesterol, heart disease, or other issues, your doctor will opt for the medication least likely to cause problems.
  5. Viral resistance. You'll get a test to show if the strain of HIV you have is resistant to any drugs. If it is, you'll use other medications instead.

 

Staying on Track

Once you're diagnosed, it’s very risky for you to stop taking your medication, Hare says.

There are lots of reasons this happens. You might switch doctors. You might lose your insurance coverage for a time. Some people deliberately go off their medications because they mistakenly think they're cured, Hare says.

But even if you're feeling well, it's crucial that you stay on your medication. Stopping treatment gives the virus a chance to spread and cause serious problems.

HIV is now a manageable disease. But you have to do your part to manage it -- and that means sticking with treatment.

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Reviewed on December 12, 2013

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