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HIV Treatment - Basics!

Written and reviewed by
Dr. Ketan Ranpariya 94% (5403 ratings)
MBBS, PG Diploma (HIV Medicines)
HIV Specialist, Surat  •  13 years experience
HIV Treatment - Basics!

HIV Treatment's Basics

(1) Options of treatment - Non-anti-retroviral Therapy.

 Along with retroviral therapy, non-anti-retroviral therapy can also be useful for the healthy life of a patient. This includes nutrient diet, yoga, pranayama, exercise & DE addiction from the intoxications.

 Nutritional elements like vitamins, minerals & amino acids are supplied in the form of tablets, syrup, injections, etc. Mainly, Zinc, Vitamin-c & Omega-3 fatty acid is helpful in increasing immunity.

 Some elements are useful to maintain health & to protect against the diseases. The woman who is to deliver a baby & is given folic acid properly, the new baby shall be free of the spinal cord troubles.

 This is to remember that while starting any other medicine along with retroviral medicines, the expert doctor must be consulted.

Meditation, Yoga & Pranayama -

 Meditation, Yoga & Pranayama are useful for the physical & mental health of the patient.

 Before accepting any type of native, Ayurvedic or homeopathic medicines, the doctor providing the retroviral medicines should be consulted. The intake of native or Ayurvedic or homeopathic medicines can sometimes interfere the effect of retroviral medicine which will cause damage to HIV patient.

 Various chants of various religions can be useful for the mental health of a patient.

(2) To stop the medicine or change it - Sometimes the medicines are required to be changed due to two reasons.

 The severe side effect of the medicine, or

 Non-effect of medicines. The side effect means the changes in the system of a patient which is adverse & is troublesome for the normal life of a patient caused by medicines. Non-effect of the medicines means in spite of medications, the increase in viral load & decrease in C.D.-4 cells. Main reasons for non-effect of the medicine.

 Irregular intake of medicine.

 Seriously sick.

Infection of serious virus naturally.

 Intoxication or any other addiction.

 Side effect of other medicine or medicine itself interferes the effect of HIV medicine.

 Presence of any other serious disease. If the doctor intends to change HIV medicine, the patient should discuss the following points.

HIV treatment availed in the past.

 The readiness of a patient for new medicines.

 Possible side effects of the new medicines.

 Punctuality of the new medicines to be observed by the patient.

 Monthly expenditure for the new medicines.

(3) To stop the medicines - Generally, HIV medicines are never discontinued. A patient has to take the medicines for the whole of his life. These medicines are rarely discontinued for a short period in the cases where the serious side effects are observed in the patient. HIV medicines should never be started or stopped without consultation otherwise the same medicine shall not be effective in the future which is dangerous for the patient. Thus, HIV medicines are not to be discontinued & shall be continued for whole life for best results.

(4) Punctuality for the medicines & Resistance of HIV medicine - Whenever a person is detected to have HIV, there are high numbers of virus present in the body. This virus is attached to the C.D.-4 cells. If a person has never been under the medication for this virus, it is called a wild virus. When we start the medicine, the growth of the virus is obstructed. If the medicine is not continued, the virus starts growing in the presence of this insufficient medication with the change in its normal form to the dangerous form which is known as Mutant Virus. The current medicine does not affect this virus & this is called Drug Resistance. To confirm this, the reports of viral load, C.D.-4 cells & drug resistance are required to be undertaken.

(5) To maintain the effect of medicines - 

 Discuss the regularity of the medicine intake.
 Be punctual for medicinal intake.
 Never miss a single tablet.
 Be in touch with your doctor every month if possible. If not possible than at least once in 3 months.
 Get the blood tested for viral load & C.D.-4 every 3-6 months.
 The test will help to know the effect of medicines. If required the new medicines may be started after drug resistance report.
 Keep the records & files carefully.

(6) The first step to start the medicine - It is quite normal to be worried while starting the medicines. The doctor shall ask few questions, shall carry out some tests, and shall carry out some lab tests also. This is the best time for a patient to clear his doubts. The stage of the disease shall be judged from the reports. At the time of starting of medicine, cash manager or assistance shall be helpful to the patient for the following services.
 Supportive care organization
 Services for mental fitness.
 Support Group
 Diet
 Medicines.

(7) The regularity of medicines - The regularity means HIV patient should take the medicines regularly & punctually without skipping a single dose as per the advice of a doctor. Regularity is highly important to control the disease. Regularity will reduce the viral load & increase the C.D.-4 cell strength. At the time of detection of HIV, the viral load is very high. i.e. there is high no. of the virus in 1 ml of blood. These viruses damage C.D.-4 cells. If no medication is done for HIV then they are known as the wild virus. When the medication is started, its goal is to reduce the growth of the HIV virus. Irregular medication will result in high growth of virus & as the virus changes its form, the old medicine will not be effective on the virus. To reduce the chances of drug resistance & to facilitate the proper effect of medicine, the following points are required to be taken care of.
 One should have the medicine which can be taken regularly which shall be prescribed by the doctor.
 The medicine should be taken regularly & at a fixed time.
 The medicine should be as less as possible.
 The doctor should be consulted every three months.
 The report of viral load & C.D.-4 cells shall be obtained every six months. If the medicine is found to have no effect, the medicine can be changed at the early stage & HIV can be controlled.
 All the reports & prescriptions of the medicines shall be preserved carefully as they can be used to make the changes in the medicines.

(8) HIV treatment - The first medicine for HIV was invented in 1987 & more than 30 medicines are available today & more are under research. ART i.e. Anti- Retroviral Therapy consists of mainly six groups of medicines. Every group prevents HIV differently. Generally, 3 types of medicines from two different groups are prescribed. Presently no medicine is available to abolish HIV completely however medicines are available which will control the HIV & will help in leading healthy & long life. It is very dangerous to have a single type of medicine or two types of medicines as this will stop to affect & hence at least three types of medicines are prescribed. These three types of medicines are mixed to form a single tablet & hence the patient has to swallow a single tablet only.

(9) Which type of medicine is useful to which patient?
HIV expert will decide the medicines on the basis of various points.

 The readiness of a person to take the tablet, one, two or more.
 The health of a patient.
 The strength of C.D.-4 cells.
 Possible side effects.
 Medicines availed by the patient in the past.
 The on-going medicines for other diseases.
 The doctor decides the medicines taking into consideration the mental health of the patient too. The patient should discuss the questions arising in his mind with the doctor.

(10) Other medicines along with HIV medicines - The patient having immune strength of C.D.-4 cells less than 250 are given medicines known as prophylaxes to protect against other diseases like PCP, Toxoplasmosis, & intestinal infection. Over & above, the medicines for curing the side effects like vomiting, nausea & dysentery. If HIV patient has a permanent disease like blood pressure or diabetes, he should continue the medicines along with the HIV medicines under the guidance of the doctor. This will help to have a healthy life. It is highly necessary to have medicines regularly & punctually.

(11) Why the medicines for HIV shall be taken? - Which one & when? There does not exist any emergency for HIV medicines. The meaning is that there may be some time consumed in getting various reports & checking the presence of other diseases. This does not make any difference in the treatment & status of the patient. It is highly important to get various reports of the patient. The HIV medicines can be started after confirmation of the reports only.

(12) The medications shall not be delayed if any of the following situations are observed.
 If the patient has severe troubles & in a dire state.
 If the patient is suffering the opportunistic infections.
 If the strength of C.D.-4 cells is less than 500.
 If a woman is pregnant.
 Having a serious effect of HIV on kidney or other organs. Once the medication is started, it is important to take the medicines regularly & punctually as per the guidance of the doctor. Medicines shall never be discontinued without consulting the doctor as it creates the risk of drug resistance.

(13) To start HIV medicines is to start a new life - Once the patient understands what is HIV & AIDS & avails necessary medicines, the positive effect of medicines is very high. For some people, to start the medication is like a great change in their lives. Everybody should be aware of the benefits & disadvantages of the treatment & what should be expected as per the time period. The changes in one‟s life is related to the medication as one has to take the medicine or medicines at some fixed time/ after or before meal/ early or late in a day etc. The success will depend on the regularity & punctuality of the medication. If other medicines are going on, the need may arise to change the timings or the medicines itself as the medicines at the same timings shall affect the success of the medicines & treatment along with the chances of side effects. This is as important for a patient to be aware of the above facts as the punctuality of medicines.

(14) What is the side effect? Whenever medicine is applied, the troubles to the patient arising due to the medicines along with its positive effect is called side effect. Every medicine imposes more or less side effect. However, it is not advisable to avoid the medication/treatment due to the fear of side effects. Avoiding medicines sometimes lead to death. The main target of HIV medicine is to control the disease with required medicines in required quantity & in the required time with minimum side effects. One should discuss the side effects of the medicines. There are two types of side effects.

(1) Short time &
(2) long time.

(14-a) Short time side effects - Every medicine has its side effect in more or less amount. HIV medicines also have side effects. When medicine starts its work for control over the disease, the side effect comes into the scene like   Reduction in haemoglobin.  Dysentery  Vomiting  Nausea  DizzinessFatigue  Headache  Skin patches  Muscular/joint pain

(14-b) Long-time side effects - HIV medicines are found to impose long time side effects also. Treatment for some of them is available & some cannot be treated. Hence whenever a patient develops some troubles, he should immediately consult his doctor. The doctor can change the medicine or can adjust the doses to reduce the trouble. Mostly some of the following side effects are seen in the patients.  The imbalance of the lard is seen in a body. Some portion will be having high lard while some portion will have less.  Reduction in insulin level which results in rise in blood sugar.  Increase in cholesterol level.  Reduction in bone density.

(14-c) Reduction of side effects - When the medicine for HIV is started, some people may suffer vomiting, nausea, fatigue, body & headache, etc. but this is not serious as this vanishes with time. Even if the side effect persists, one should not change, stop or alter the dose of the medicine without consulting the doctor. Any change in medicine without consulting doctor can result in serious damage. It is highly important to continue medicine without any change for a healthy & long life.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
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