The most effective treatment for
antiretroviral therapy (ART), a
combination of several medicines that aims to control the amount
of virus in your body. For more information, see Medications.
Other steps you can take include the following:
- Keep your
immune system strong by eating right, quitting smoking, and learning how to avoid infection. For more information, see Home Treatment.
- Monitor your
CD4+ (white blood cells) counts to check the effect of
the virus on your immune system. For more information, see Exams and Tests.
- See a counselor to help you handle the strong emotions and stress that can follow an HIV diagnosis. For more information, see Other Treatment.
- Reduce stress so that you can better manage the HIV illness. For more information, see Other Treatment.
Medical experts recommend that people begin treatment for HIV as soon as they know that they are infected.1, 2 Treatment is especially important for pregnant women, people who have other infections (such as tuberculosis or hepatitis), and people who have symptoms of AIDS.
Research suggests that
treatment of early HIV with antiretroviral medicines has long-term
benefits, such as a stronger immune system.6
But you may decide not to get treated at first. If you put off treatment, you will still need regular checkups to measure the amount of
HIV in your blood and check how well your immune system is working.
You may want to start HIV treatment if your sex partner doesn't have HIV. Treatment of your HIV infection can help prevent the spread of HIV to your sex partner.6
- HIV: When Should I Start Taking Antiretroviral Medicines for HIV Infection?
Treatment to prevent HIV infection
Health care workers
who are at risk for HIV because of an accidental needlestick or other
exposure to body fluids should get medicine to prevent infection.7
Also, medicine may prevent HIV infection in a person who
has been raped or was accidentally exposed to the body fluids of a person who
may have HIV.8 This type of treatment is usually
started within 72 hours of the exposure.
And studies have shown that if you are not infected with HIV, taking antiretroviral medicines can protect you against HIV.9, 10, 11 But to keep your risk low, you still need to use safer sex practices.