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From acceptance to action: managing our HIV
Once we know we are HIV positive, we can take steps to manage our health and give ourselves the best chance to prevent HIV from progressing. Gathering information about HIV and antiretroviral therapy (ART) will help us make the best of our new situation.
HIV can be controlled by taking a combination of medicines every day called antiretroviral therapy, or ART. The term Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) is also used.
There is no cure for HIV, but by taking ART, 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]
There is a lot of information in the SHE toolkit about ART and women with HIV.
Coming to terms with our diagnosis, learning to be confident about our status, and disclosing when we feel it is appropriate, are all things which will make us feel better able to deal with our new life. Taking treatment is a reality for many of us and those of us who are able to be open about our status and enjoy the love and support of people around us find it easier to take our medication as it is prescribed.
[i] MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. AIDS. Available athttp://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000594.htm. Accessed May 2011.
[ii] WHO – HIV/AIDS: Antiretroviral Therapy. Available at http://www.who.int/hiv/topics/treatment/en/. Accessed May 2011.
[iii] FDA. Antiretroviral drugs used in the treatment of HIV infection. Available athttp://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/byAudience/ForPatientAdvocates/HIVandAIDSActivities/ucm118915.htm. Accessed May 2011.
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