How is HIV treated?

While there is no cure for HIV infection, there are medications for treating HIV. Antiretroviral drugs (also referred to as HIV medications), when used as prescribed, work to stop HIV from replicating, allowing the immune system to retain (or rebuild) its strength, and keep people healthy. Research shows that HIV treatment works well for women. The recommendations for HIV treatment are the same for people of all genders.

Treating HIV with antiretroviral drugs has proven to save lives and keep people healthy. With current HIV treatment, women living with HIV can expect to have the same life expectancy as HIV-negative women. Advancements in treatment technology have made the drugs much easier to take, however, some HIV drugs may cause side-effects. Certain older HIV medications may interact with hormone treatment among trans women.

Making the choice to start treatment

It can be difficult for a woman to make the decision to start taking HIV medications. In order for HIV treatment to be successful it is best if it is taken each day around the same time, as the doctor prescribes it. Taking HIV medication involves a life-long commitment.
Some women are not in a place to make this commitment. They may not yet have come to terms with their HIV diagnosis, and the thought of taking daily medications makes HIV too present in their minds. They may be occupied with others issues related to their families, their employment (or lack of it), their financial situation or immigration issues. They may be underhoused, worried about their safety, experiencing depression or other mental health challenges, or using substances.
While starting treatment is always recommended, until a woman is in a position to commit to taking her HIV medications as prescribed, she is not ready to start treatment despite what the clinical markers such as viral load and CD4 count may indicate.


For more information on treatment

Treating HIV with antiretroviral drugs has proven to save lives and keep people healthy.

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