HIV Treatment & Prevention Options

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HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus and it’s a virus that spreads via certain bodily fluids that attack the immune system, specifically the T cells. With time, HIV will destroy so many cells in the body that it makes it near impossible to fight off infections and disease. The T Cells are a huge part of the bodies system to fight infections. The damage HIV causes over time can completely destroy the immune system and advance to AIDS. Fortunately, there are treatment options to help prevent that and newer treatment options that help prevent HIV entirely. 

HIV Prevention:

There are two types of HIV prevention medication.

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)

Post = after

Exposure = coming into contact with HIV

Prophylaxis = treatment to prevent an infection from happening

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).

Pre = before.

Exposure = coming into contact with HIV

Prophylaxis = treatment to prevent an infection from happening

Post-Exposure Prophylaxis medications are the ones taken after possible exposure to HIV and are normally intended for emergency situations. PEP medications need to be started within 72 hours of possible exposure. The sooner the better. They are designed to prevent and control the spread of the virus and are not meant to be replacements for other prevention methods such as practicing safe sex. PEP medications when prescribed are to be taken every day for 28 days and should only be used incase of emergency.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis is mainly for people at risk of exposure to HIV constantly. These are prevention medications taken daily that can prevent HIV from taking hold in the body and spreading. PrEP meds are highly effective for preventing the transmission of HIV and studies have shown it can reduce the risk of contacting the virus by 99%. The two main PrEP medications are Truvida and Descovy.

Truvida is the most commonly used PrEP medication while Descovy acts as both a PEP and PrEP medication.

HIV Treatment

Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) is the use of HIV medications to treat HIV infections. ART can’t cure HIV but it helps to live a normal life and reduces the risk of transmission and transgression into AIDS.

These medications are designed to prevent the virus from multiplying to reduce the viral load. Having less of the virus in the body allows it a better chance to recover from other infections. Keeping it strong enough to fight off new infections and certain HIV-related cancers. This reduction in viral load also helps reduce the risk of transmitting HIV. The main goal of Antiretroviral Therapy is to reduce the overall viral load in a person’s body to an undetectable level. At an undetectable viral load, that means the amount of virus in the blood is to load to be detected and that person would effectively have no risk of transmitting HIV.

When it comes to the medications used for Antiretroviral Therapy they fall into seven drug classes according to how they are used to fight HIV. An initial regimen would generally included three HIV medications coming from at least two of the HIV drug classes. The drug selection will be dependent on the person because the needs of each persons body will vary and the goal is to fight the virus not help it on aggressive attacks on the body. 

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