Are you HIV positive? A full and healthy lifestyle is within your reach. Take charge. If you are HIV-positive and not on treatment, you should reach out to your Pharmacist or Pharmacy Nurse who can initiate and prescribe ARVs for you.
Taking ARVs as prescribed can dramatically reduce the amount of virus in your blood (viral load). Viral suppression is defined as having less than 50 copies of HIV per millilitre of blood.
ARVs can reduce the virus in your body such that a test can’t detect HIV. This is an undetectable viral load. Maintaining an undetectable viral load is the best thing you can do to stay healthy. Also, if your viral load stays undetectable, you have almost no risk of passing HIV to an HIV-negative partner.
If a person with HIV does not get medical care, HIV will attack the immune system and eventually lead to full-blown AIDS. AIDS can cause different life threatening infections and cancers to develop, which can be fatal. A cure for HIV does not yet exist but taking ARVs as prescribed can keep people with HIV healthy for many years and help reduce your risk of passing the virus to others.
Speak to the Pharmacist about Treatment
"When I was first diagnosed, in the mid-90s, life was very different. Treatment was awful, with around 20 tablets a day at high strengths. Times have changed and so have treatments. There really is no reason why you should not live a normal life."
- Man, aged 44, diagnosed in 1996
What other reasons are there to start treatment? Antiretroviral treatment lowers your viral load, which makes it less likely that HIV will be passed on. It is important that all women with HIV who are pregnant or breastfeeding take treatment to prevent HIV being passed on to their baby.
Anyone living with HIV who is in a relationship with someone who does not have HIV (a mixed-status relationship or discordant couple) should also consider treatment to prevent HIV transmission.
Does antiretroviral treatment have side-effects? As with all medications, starting to take ARVs can cause some side-effects, particularly in the first few days of treatment. Speak with your health care worker, as it might affect your choice of medicine. Your treatment will be monitored and may be changed if it is not working for you.