That's good! Knowing some HIV facts and understanding what's going on inside your body can help you stay healthy.
HIV causes damage to your body. It starts by attacking CD4 cells in your immune system. CD4 cells defend against germs and infections. HIV attacks CD4 cells and uses them to make more copies of the virus.
Pretty soon, the amount of virus in your body, your viral load, goes up. And your CD4 count goes down. This means you have fewer CD4 cells to help keep you from getting sick.
What's the difference between HIV and AIDS? HIV is a virus and AIDS is a disease.
Left untreated, HIV can lead to infections, certain cancers, and eventually to AIDS. AIDS is the final stage of HIV.
But it doesn't have to happen. Watch the video below to see what HIV can do to your body. And how HIV treatment can help reduce the damage in your body.
Get the basics on what HIV does and how treatment can help.
A doctor can answer your questions about HIV treatment. But know that
medical guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend starting treatment right away.
The START Study followed more than 4,600 people living with HIV. The study looked at the health of each patient over the course of about three years. Some people started treatment right away and some waited.
Those who started treatment right away had a lower chance of developing AIDS, tuberculosis, or certain cancers. Here’s where you can find more information on starting HIV treatment.
HIV treatment is also called antiretroviral therapy. ART for short. ART is usually made up of at least 3 medicines. And many HIV treatments have all the medicines you need to treat HIV in one pill you take once a day.
There’s no cure for HIV. But research shows that starting and sticking to HIV treatment, by taking it every day, helps get a person’s viral load so low that it can’t be measured by a test. So low, it’s undetectable. Your doctor can tell you more about getting to undetectable. And about why treating HIV with at least three medicines has been recommended over the last 20 years.
Did you know? Many HIV medicines can be taken safely with other medicines, including hormone therapy. Find out more.
See why there are usually at least three medicines inside most HIV treatments.
According to current research, sticking to treatment every day, and staying undetectable, basically eliminates the chance of passing HIV on through sex. Yes, you read that right. Which means you can protect your health and the people you care about.
It's called treatment as prevention, or TasP for short. And if it sounds like a big deal, it is! But HIV is still in your body, and being undetectable doesn't prevent other sexually transmitted infections. So stick to treatment every day, use condoms, and practice safer sex.
Can you have a sex life? Of course.
See how starting and staying on treatment can help protect your health and the health of others.
An HIV specialist knows the latest information about the virus and how to treat it. He or she can be your personal expert. Ask questions. Any question is good, no matter how basic or complex. Have your doctor explain anything you don't understand. Your doctor is a great resource for information.
Don't have an HIV doctor yet? This site can help you find HIV care services near you.
Greg didn’t know HIV medications were a thing until his doctor asked if he was ready to start. Hear what happened when he and his doctor talked about how HIV is treated and how Greg felt when he left his appointment.
You and your doctor are partners. And the people in your HIV doctor's office are part of your healthcare team. You should feel safe, comfortable, and respected when you talk with them. They should use your preferred name and pronoun. And your doctor should be sensitive to what's going on in your life and to your specific health needs. Here's more information about who should be on your healthcare team.
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