if you have just been diagnosed with HIV, you’re probably anxious about it-to say the least! You’ve heard horror stories. You may well be afraid that you’re about to die.
Calm down. It’s not as bad as you think. There is treatment available today that can help you live a long, happy, productive life with HIV. You’re not going to die.
It’s true that there is still no cure for HIV. There is currently no way to eliminate the virus from your body completely. But there are medications available that can keep the virus under control indefinitely. Take your HIV medications faithfully, and you have an excellent chance of living out a normal life span, or something very close to it.
It wasn’t always that way.
In the beginning, HIV almost always progressed to AIDS over time, and, ultimately, it was a death sentence.
The first glimmer of hope came on March 19, 1987, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first-ever drug designed to combat HIV: Retrovir, more commonly known as AZT.
As the years went by, more HIV drugs were introduced. In late 1995 and 1996 there was a real breakthrough. Scientists discovered that combining three HIV drugs into a treatment “cocktail” could stop HIV in its tracks. This approach was called “HAART”-”Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy”-and it was a lifesaver. HAART is still the basis for HIV treatment today.
Since then, HIV drugs have gotten better and better: more effective, easier to take, and easier to tolerate. Many of the early drugs, hailed as “miracles” in their time, have become obsolete because the new drugs are so much better. People used to take 30 pills a day to control their virus. Today, for many people who are newly diagnosed, it is possible to control HIV with just one pill, taken just once a day.
However, there still is no cure for HIV. The drugs available can keep your HIV from reproducing, but they cannot wipe it out. Once you start taking the drugs, you have to keep taking them for life. Even if your viral load is “undetectable,” if you stop taking the drugs, the virus comes roaring back.
Still, the change is remarkable. Today, HIV is a chronic manageable disease, similar in many ways to type 1 diabetes (and much easier to manage!) No one lives forever, but most people living with HIV today will probably die of something else. – hivpostivemagazine.com