While there is no cure for HIV, there is treatment that can help you live long and stay healthy.
How is HIV treated?
Once you test positive for HIV, you will be put on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). ART is a combination of medicines that slow down the effects of HIV in your body. The treatment can also lower or even stop your chances of passing HIV to someone else if taken correctly. You will need to take your medication every day for the rest of your life, and you need to make sure you take it correctly to stay healthy.
HIV being undetectable
Treatment for HIV lowers the amount of HIV in your body. This is known as your viral load. The ART can work so well that HIV sometimes won’t show up on standard blood tests. If your viral load is so low that certain tests can’t see it, it’s called “undetectable.” When someone has an undetectable viral load, they can’t spread HIV to others during sex or when they give birth.
It’s important to remember that even with an undetectable viral load, HIV is still present in your body. If you stop treatment or stop taking it properly, your viral load can go up, making it possible to pass HIV to others. Stopping treatment can also lead to your HIV developing into AIDS.
Staying healthy on treatment
Paying attention to your lifestyle can help you stay healthy too and help the treatment do its work. This means eating well and having more fruits and vegetables in your diet, drinking more water, getting enough sleep, exercising, learning how to deal with stress, and avoiding alcohol, smoking, and drugs. Make sure you work with your healthcare provider on maintaining your HIV care and treatment plan.
Learn more about HIV treatment adherence from Karabo in this AMAZE video!
Wondering how to support a friend who is living with HIV? Read this.
If I have HIV, can I still have sex? Get your answer here.