a combination therapy for HIV treatment called highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) that slows down the progression of the disease and prolongs life has given much hope.
This is a combination of drugs used because the HIV can quickly adapt and become resistant to a single medicine.
The drugs are known as HIV antiretroviral (ARV).
It is usually best to start ARV treatment if the CD4 count is less than 350.
For a small number of people, treatment may begin before the number of CD4 falls below 350.
This may be recommended by your doctor if:
There is a diagnosis of AIDS (for example, Kaposi’s sarcoma) or any other HIV-related disease
You are suffering from Hepatitis B
You have an infection with hepatitis C
It is a high risk of heart attack or stroke (cardiovascular events)
You are pregnant (so that the fetus is infected)
There can be used many types of drugs as part of the ARV therapy.
A combination of drugs that is suitable for one person may not be suitable for another, so the combination will be personalised.
There are five main types of ARVs:
Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) and nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NtRTIs)
Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs
Protease inhibitors (PI)
The fusion or entry inhibitors
Integrase inhibitors (Inis)
These drugs work in different ways, but all block the virus from reproducing inside the cells, slowing its spread and protecting the immune system.
The goal of therapy is to find the best combination of drugs, which decreases the viral load to undetectable levels, while minimizing any side effects.
The most common side effects of drugs against HIV include: - Nausea - Fatigue - Diarrhoea - Skin irritation - Changes in mood - Lipodystrophy (increase of fat in a body part and decrease in another)
Medications used to treat HIV are only effective if taken exactly as prescribed.
To adhere to treatment, you must:
- Take the medicine as recommended
- Take the recommended dose
- Follow all instructions regarding diet (for example, some drugs should only be taken on an empty stomach, while others need to be taken with food)
Many of the medications used to treat HIV can react unpredictably if you take other medications. Always check with the clinic staff or your physician before taking any medicine.
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PPE)
The post-exposure prophylaxis (EPP) is a special prophylaxis that allows you to stop development of the HIV virus in the first 72 hours after exposure. It consists in taking anti-HIV drugs for four weeks. - www.pazienti.net