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Infectious Diseases 2023

How to treat HIV

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How to treat HIV
How to treat HIV

Treatment for HIV infection is done through antiretroviral drugs that prevent the virus from multiplying in the body, helping to fight the disease and strengthen the immune system, despite not being able to eliminate the virus of the organism. These medicines are provided free of charge by the SUS (Sistema Único de Saúde) regardless of the viral load that the person has.

There are already many studies aimed at finding a cure for HIV infection, however there are still no conclusive results. However, it is important to follow the indicated treatment so that it is possible to reduce the viral load and increase the person's quality of life, as well as reducing the risk of developing diseases that are often related to AIDS, tuberculosis, pneumonia and cryptosporidiosis.

When to start HIV/AIDS treatment

Treatment of HIV infection should be started as soon as the diagnosis is established, which is done through tests that must be recommended by the general practitioner, infectious disease specialist, urologist, in the case of men, or gynecologist, in the case of women. women. These tests can be ordered along with other routine tests or as a way to check for infection with the virus after risky behavior, which is sexual intercourse without a condom. See how HIV infection is diagnosed.

Treatment for HIV should be started immediately in pregnant women or when the person has a viral load higher than 100,000/ml or a CD4 T lymphocyte rate lower than 500/mm³ of blood in the blood test. Thus, it is possible to control the rate of viral replication and reduce the symptoms and complications of the disease.

If antiretroviral treatment is started when the patient is at a more advanced stage of the disease, it is possible that there is an inflammation called Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome (IRS), however, even in these situations, therapy must be maintained and the doctor may evaluate the use of Prednisone for a week or two to help control inflammation.

How the treatment is done

The treatment of AIDS is done with the use of antiretroviral drugs offered by the SUS that are capable of preventing the multiplication of the HIV virus and, thus, preventing the weakening of the human body. In addition, when the treatment is done correctly, there is an improvement in the patient's quality of life and a decrease in the chance of developing some diseases that can be related to AIDS, such as tuberculosis, cryptosporidiosis, aspergillosis, skin diseases and heart problems.

SUS also makes HIV testing available free of charge so that the viral load can be monitored periodically so that it can be verified whether the patient is responding well to treatment. It is recommended that HIV tests be performed at least 3 times a year, so that it is possible to adjust the treatment, if necessary, avoiding possible complications.

The drugs used in the treatment of AIDS can act by preventing the virus from replicating, entering the virus into the human cell, integrating the genetic material of the virus and the person and the production of new copies of the virus.Usually, the doctor recommends a combination of drugs that may vary according to the viral load, the person's general he alth and professional activity, due to the side effects. The antiretrovirals generally indicated are:

  • Lamivudine;
  • Tenofovir;
  • Efavirenz;
  • Ritonavir;
  • Nevirapine;
  • Enfuvirtida;
  • Zidovudine;
  • Darunavir;
  • R altegravir.

The drugs Stavudine and Indinavir used to be indicated to treat AIDS, however their marketing was suspended due to the large amount of adverse and toxic effects on the body. Most of the time, treatment is carried out with at least three drugs, but it can vary according to the patient's general he alth status and viral load. In addition, treatment during pregnancy may vary, as some medications can cause malformations in the baby.

Main side effects

Due to the large amount of medication, AIDS treatment can result in some side effects such as nausea, vomiting, malaise, loss of appetite, headache, skin changes and fat loss all over the body.

These symptoms are more common at the beginning of treatment and tend to disappear over time. However, whenever they appear, you should inform the doctor, as it is possible to reduce their intensity by changing the medication for another or adjusting the dose.

The cocktail should always be taken in the right dose and at the right time every day to prevent the virus from getting even stronger, facilitating the emergence of other diseases. Food is also very important in the treatment of AIDS because it prevents chronic diseases, strengthens the immune system and even helps to combat the side effects of antiretroviral therapy. See what to eat to help treat AIDS.

When you go back to the doctor

After the first week of treatment, the patient should return to the doctor to check for drug reactions, and after this visit, he should return to the doctor once a month. When the disease stabilizes, the patient should return to the doctor every 6 months, performing exams every six months or year, depending on their he alth status.

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