I Choose Life Health and Wellness Center

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What Advancements Have Been Made in the Treatment of HIV?

As of 2015, advancements in HIV treatment include the development of a one combination pill such as Stribild, Complera and Atripla instead of complicated cocktails. Additionally, HIV-positive people now have more than 30 drug options to choose from. Therefore, patients choose drugs that cause them reduced side effects. Modern HIV medication works for decades without the need to switch to a new medication. Current HIV medication is easy to tolerate because of reduced side effects. Common side effects include stomach pain and diarrhea that quickly fade. Improvement of antiretroviral therapy makes HIV a manageable chronic disease. With good management, HIV-positive people now live long and healthy lives. Antiretroviral therapy reduces viral load to undetectable levels to prevent the manifestation of symptoms. Long-term risks of HIV medication include high cholesterol and weakened bones. HIV-positive patients can now start medication immediately after diagnosis depending on their doctors’ recommendation.

Doctors choose a patient's HIV medication depending on how organized a patient is, eating habits and viral resistant. Atripla medication contains efavirenz, which is unsafe for women attempting to get pregnant, expectant women and breast-feeding mothers. Some HIV drugs react with acid reflux medication. A doctor also considers health conditions such as high cholesterol and heart ailments before prescribing HIV medication. Which bring us to PrEP. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is when people at very high risk for HIV take HIV medicines daily to lower their chances of getting infected. A combination of two HIV medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine), sold under the name Truvada® (pronounced tru vá duh), is approved for daily use as PrEP to help prevent an HIV-negative person from getting HIV from a sexual or injection-drug-using partner who’s positive. Studies have shown that PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV if it is used as prescribed. PrEP is much less effective when it is not taken consistently.

For those at very high risk for HIV, PrEP can significantly reduce your risk of HIV infection if taken daily.  Daily PrEP use can lower the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90% and from injection drug use by more than 70%. You can combine additional strategies with PrEP to reduce your risk even further. PrEP can be prescribed only by a health care provider, so talk to yours to find out if PrEP is the right HIV prevention strategy for you. You must take PrEP daily for it to work. Also, you must take an HIV test before beginning PrEP to be sure you don’t already have HIV and every 3 months while you’re taking it, so you’ll have to visit your health care provider for regular follow-ups. The cost of PrEP is covered by many health insurance plans, and a commercial medication assistance program provides free PrEP to people with limited income and no insurance to cover PrEP care. Visit the PrEP Locator to find a PrEP provider near you.