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What is HIV treatment?

HIV is treated with antiretroviral therapy (ART). Most treatments require you to take one or two tablets a day. There are different medication options and you should work with your HIV doctor to find the right one for you.

What does HIV treatment do?

HIV treatment reduces the amount of HIV in your bloodstream. For the vast majority of people, this can reduce the amount of HIV to the point where it cannot be detected by a blood test. This is called ‘undetectable viral load’ (UVL) and means your immune system can recover and remain healthy. The medication must be taken as prescribed, as stopping and starting, can lead to drug resistance.

The benefits of treatment include:

  • longer life span, similar to if you did not have HIV
  • not passing HIV onto sexual partners (if you have UVL)
  • more energy and better mood

Are there side effects?

HIV medications have greatly improved in recent years and most people find modern HIV medications easy to take. Side effects are usually non-existent or manageable and should be discussed with your doctor.

When should I start treatment?

Starting treatment as soon as possible will have the most benefit to your health. However, taking HIV medication is a lifelong commitment, so it’s best to start when you are ready. Take time to ask your doctor questions and make sure you have all the information you need to make your decision.

Wondering how much this is all going to cost?

In Australia, HIV treatment is subsidised (low or no cost) if you have a Medicare Card. If you are not eligible for a Medicare card, you can still access treatment –talk to your HIV doctor.