Hearing the word ‘HIV’ often alarms people and being diagnosed with the virus is often perceived as a death knell. However, major scientific breakthroughs in recent years and tested medical practices have proven that HIV today can be managed just as easily as any other disease or disorder like High BP or Diabetes.
What is HIV?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a retrovirus. A retrovirus spreads by making its way into a host’s body and then replicating itself in the body’s cells. As time passes and the virus keeps making copies of itself, the person’s immune system gradually deteriorates.
HIV usually targets those white blood cells that usually help a person’s immune system fight diseases, infections, and illnesses. If untreated, the virus goes on to completely destroy these white blood cells, causing immeasurable harm to a person’s immunity.
What is ART (Antiretroviral Therapy)?
Anyone who has contracted HIV must opt for treatment immediately. Treatment of HIV involves medication called Antiretroviral Therapy. While there is no known cure for HIV, ART makes the HIV infection manageable as well as substantially reduces the risk of spreading the virus to other people.
Standard treatment involves HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy) which is basically a combination of drugs that suppress HIV replication. This combination of various drugs is prescribed to increase the potency of the medication and to substantially lessen the chances of the virus developing any resistance.
What Does Antiretroviral Therapy Do?
ART allows your immune system to recover by stopping HIV from rapidly progressing. While ART does not remove HIV from your body, it helps to stop the constant onslaught of HIV replicating, which gives your body a breather and lets your immune system recover from the damage inflicted by the virus and generate more useful white blood cells.
Gradually, through ART, the body’s immune system may become strong enough to fend off infections as well as some HIV-related cancers. Reducing the load of the virus in the body also makes it less likely to pass on the virus to others.
What is Viral Suppression?
Viral Suppression is said to take place when the person’s count is less than 200 copies of HIV per mm of blood. Viral load being this low means that the virus is present in only trace amounts in the blood and hardly detectable which is also known as an ‘undetectable viral load.’
From this, we can infer that if the viral load is this less in the system, then the virus is no longer a major threat to the immune system and neither is there a major risk of spreading the virus to other people. Using Antiretroviral Therapy, most patients reach a stage of viral suppression in about 6 months.
HIV treatment and ART is geared towards reaching this stage of viral suppression and maintaining this undetectable viral load. It is the best-case scenario for HIV patients and a living reality for most HIV patients today.
With regular medication and professional medical care, patients can easily manage HIV and lead high-quality lives while minimizing the risk of spreading the virus to others.
DrSafeHands provides confidential testing, consulting, treatment as well as counseling. If you have any queries regarding HIV or ART, feel free to get in touch with one of our well-qualified and trained doctors.
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