Thanks to medical science, being infected with HIV is no longer a death sentence. With proper care HIV patients can have a normal life expectancy. Importantly, new cases of HIV should be treated as early as possible with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). HAART reduces the number of viral particles in the body so that the immune system is weakened by virus and is still able to fight off other infections. Most deaths from AIDS (the late stage of untreated HIV infection) are not directly caused by HIV, but by other types of infection called opportunistic infections. Therefore preventing other infections is key.
HAART drugs fall into the following categories:
- Reverse transcriptase inhibitors prevent viral particles from reproducing
- Protease inhibitors cause newly-formed viral particles to be harmless
- Integrase inhibitors prevent viral DNA from entering the human cell’s chromosomes, preventing viral reproduction
- Fusion inhibitors prevent viral particles from entering immune cells
- Chemokine receptor antagonists prevent viral particles from entering immune cells
Various combinations of the above types of drugs can lower a viral load appreciably in 6 months. The following are typical starting regimens:
- Emtricitabine (reverse transcriptase inhibitor) with Biktarvy (integrase inhibitor)
- Tivicay (integrase inhibitor) plus Truvada (reverse transcriptase inhibitor)
- Isentress (integrase inhibitor) with Truvada (reverse transcriptase inhibitor)
- Triumeq (combination integrase inhibitor, two reverse transcriptase inhibitors)
Different types of medications are prescribed to attack the virus at different points in its existence. When the optimum combination of medications for an individual patient is found, the viral load can be lowered to undetectable levels in less than six months.
Did you know? QuickMD can refill your HIV medications remotely via telemedicine and prescribe Truvada or other anti-HIV medications online. We can also remotely order labs for you to monitor your kidney and liver functions while on HIV medications.