Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

The most effective form of HIV/AIDS treatment is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). There are a number of ART medications that work directly on the virus and stop it from replicating itself in your body. Most people on ART take a combination of several medications to keep their HIV disease under control. The ART regimen of choice is referred to as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). It is a customized combination of different classes of medications that your doctor prescribes based on factors such as the patient’s viral load (how much virus is in the blood), the particular strain of the virus, the CD4+ cell count (an indication of how healthy the immune system is), and other considerations (e.g., disease symptoms). If the medication therapy is successful, the amount of HIV in your body goes down significantly, and your immune system can stay healthy.

How do I know if my medications are working?

You should receive routine lab works to monitor how your HIV is doing. The viral load (a blood test to measure how much HIV is circulating in your blood at a specific time) is the best indicator of how well your medication is working. The viral load should decrease if your anti-HIV medications are effective. Your CD4 count is also a good indicator for how your immune system is doing to protect you from infections. Effective anti-HIV treatment should help restore your CD4 count.


Supportive Care

To combat HIV, it is important to do more than just take pills every day. Medicine is very important for treating HIV, but in addition, it is helpful to do the following as well:

Eat healthy foods
washed fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and well-cooked lean protein.

Avoid certain foods
unpasteurized dairy products, raw eggs and raw seafood can cause food borne illness in people infected with HIV.

Exercise
with doctor’s approval to maintain your strength.

Stress management
meditation, prayer, hobbies, relaxation techniques, psychotherapy, books on tape, or short walks.

Adequate sleep and rest
avoid sleeping during the day other than a short nap when needed.

Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use illegal drugs
All of these are counterproductive to maintaining a healthy immune system.

Stay hydrated
any beverage that is non-alcoholic and caffeine-free. Water is the best choice of beverage.

Be in charge of your healthcare
Support and coping can be easier if a team effort is used to ensure the medical, emotional, social and financial needs of the person living with HIV/AIDS. Take a written list of questions to each appointment. Be knowledgeable about your treatment and any monitoring requirements.

Family and friends
allow others to be supportive and assist in activities of daily living; shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc. This allows you to conserve your energy for other needed activities. Consider bringing a friend or family member into the treatment room at every doctor’s appointment as well.

Talk to your doctor about getting immunized accordingly
this may prevent infections such as pneumonia and the flu. People who are HIV-positive or have AIDS should not take immunizations containing live viruses because they can be dangerous for those individuals.

Keep all laboratory appointments
the viral load (a blood test to measure how much HIV is circulating in your blood at a specific time) is the best indicator of how well your medication is working. The viral load should decrease if your anti- HIV medications are effective. Other factors that tell how well the medication regimen is working are the CD4 count remaining stable or increasing.


Overcoming Medication Challenges

It is important for you to know the benefits of your medications. Here at Magellan Rx, we understand your concerns and want to help you with any difficulties you may encounter. For additional information on how to overcome medication challenges, please click here: Overcoming Medication Challenges