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There is no cure for HIV, but by taking antiretroviral therapy (ART), a powerful HIV treatment, HIV is controlled and made inactive. ART, when taken correctly and without interruptions, prevents HIV from causing damage to our bodies, including the immune system allowing us to stay strong so that we can live long and healthy lives.[i] ART is usually a combination of at least three different medications.[ii] Sometimes more than one medicine is combined in a single pill, which means there are fewer tablets to swallow.
There are more than 25 medications (including pills that combine more than one medication) now available to treat HIV. With help from our doctor and the healthcare team, we should be able to find the best combination to suit each one of us.[iii]
Making the most of our visits with our doctors is crucial to maintaining good health and living a happy, healthy life. There are a few things we can do to make sure our visits with the doctor are productive and effective.
If we are trying to find a family doctor in our area who understands HIV and women’s issues and is supportive of people with HIV, we could ask our HIV clinician for advice. Alternatively, we could ask a local HIV organisation. National support organisations might also have a list of good family doctors.
Knowing how to access healthcare is important for us to maintain happy and healthy lives. It is important to know which doctors and other healthcare providers to see, what to discuss and ask, what information to gather and know, and what to do with that information.
[i] MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. AIDS. Available at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000594.htm. Accessed March 2014.
[ii] WHO – HIV/AIDS: Antiretroviral Therapy. Available at http://www.who.int/hiv/topics/treatment/en/. Accessed March 2014.
[iii] FDA. Antiretroviral drugs used in the treatment of HIV infection. Available athttp://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/byAudience/ForPatientAdvocates/HIVandAIDSActivities/ucm118915.htm. Accessed March 2014.
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