HIV / AIDS Treatment

HIV Treatment / AIDS Treatment - Cocktail Therapy

Although the cure for HIV infection is not yet available, the treatment can keep the virus under control and allow the immune system to restore its function. 
People on HIV treatment can live a healthy and productive life. If HIV is diagnosed late, there is a higher risk of developing complications, and treatment outcome may be poorer.

The treatment available to an HIV-infected individual serves two main purposes:

  1. The use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) to stop the virus from reproducing. This allows the immune system to strengthen and fight infections effectively.
  2. Prophylaxis and treatment for opportunistic infections as a result of immunodeficiency.

With the introduction of HAART (Highly Active AntiRetroviral Therapy), people infected with HIV may now lead a near-normal lifespan with good quality of life. HAART, also called the cocktail therapy or the combination therapy, is the standard HIV treatment at present. It is a combination of 3 or more antiretroviral drugs selected from 2 or more classes of drugs. With combined pills, taking the daily medications has become a lot more convenient than before.

There are 5 main classes of drugs for HIV Treatment:

  • Nucleoside/Nucleotide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs)
  • Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs)
  • Protease Inhibitors (PIs)
  • Entry Inhibitors
  • Integrase Inhibitors (INSTIs)

Benefit of HIV/AIDS Treatment

An effective ART can:

  • Stop the virus from reproducing, which will in turn allow for a recovery of the CD4 count and allows the immune system to stay strong.
  • There is now clear evidence that the sooner you start to take HIV treatment, the sooner you can benefit from it.
  • There has been growing evidence of the benefits of HIV treatment as a prevention method. It can reduce HIV transmission by 96%.
  • Contribute to fewer opportunistic infections and HIV-associated cancers.
  • Trim down the risk of serious health problems that occur more frequently in HIV-positive people, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, liver disease, neurological complications and various non-AIDS-related cancers and infections.

Possible Side Effects

  • The side effects of drugs can be a problem, especially when they are taken over a long time.
  • Some regimens can cause inconvenience in daily life such as diarrhea and drowsiness.
  • Potentially serious toxicities may be present and the long-term durability of the treatments is currently unknown.
  • Read more about Antiretroviral Drugs 

When to Start HIV/AIDS Treatment

  • ART should be initiated in all adults and adolescents living with HIV, regardless of clinical stage and at any CD4 cell count, to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with HIV infection.
  • On a case-by-case basis, ART may be deferred because of clinical and/or psychosocial factors, but therapy should be initiated as soon as possible.