Treatment Alternatives

  • Antiretroviral medicines. Because HIV is a certain type of virus called a retrovirus, the drugs used to treat it are called antiretroviral medicines. These powerful medicines control the virus and slow progression of HIV infection, but they do not cure it. You need to take these medicines exactly as your doctor prescribes.
  • HAART.The current recommended treatment for HIV is a combination of three or more medicines. This regimen of medicines is called highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).How many pills you will need to take and how often you will take them depends on which medicines your doctor chooses for you. Remember, each HAART regimen is tailored to each individual patient. There is no one best regimen. You can read more about specific HAART regimens at http://aidsinfo.nih.gov/contentfiles/HIVandItsTreatment_cbrochure_en.pdf.HAART may cause some side effects. You and your doctor should discuss potential side effects so that you will know if they occur. If you experience any side effects, even those that may seem minor, you should talk about them with your doctor.
  • Other medicines. Your doctor may also prescribe other medicines for you, depending on your CD4 cell count. Always discuss any side effects with your doctor. Never change the way you are taking any of the medicines without first talking with your doctor. If you don’t take your medicines the right way, they may not be as effective as they should be.
  • Treating other infections. If your HIV infection gets worse and your CD4 cell count falls below 200, you are more likely to get other infections. Your doctor may prescribe medicines to prevent particular infections, such as PCP.

The most important thing you can do after you learn that you have HIV is to work closely with your doctor. because HIV and HIV-related illnesses vary from person to person, your doctor will design a medical care plan specifically for you. To help your doctor make the best choices for you, you must tell your doctor about any side effects or symptoms you have.