It’s important for people living with HIV to take a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV treatment regimen) every day. The treatment for HIV is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). Sustained, regular HIV care, including initiating and maintaining ART, helps people living with HIV achieve longer, healthier lives; it also reduces the risk of HIV transmission.
The main goal of HIV treatment is to reduce a person’s viral load to an undetectable level. This means that the level of HIV in the blood is too low to be detected by a viral load test. People with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex.
Recent research shows that people living with HIV who received ongoing, regularly scheduled care had significantly lower viral loads, higher CD4 cell counts (an indicator of a robust immune system), and reduced sickness and mortality than those who missed even one medical visit over a 2-year period. Other benefits of regular, ongoing HIV care included lower rates of progression to AIDS, decreased rates of hospitalization, improved overall health, and increased safer sexual behaviors.
People living with HIV are at high risk of developing serious COVID-19 if they have a low CD4 cell count and are not on ART. This is why continuing HIV care is vital during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are tips on how people living with HIV can protect themselves from COVID-19:
The Department of Health encourages people living with HIV to coordinate with their health care providers in their HIV treatment hubs and primary HIV care facilities for their supply of HIV drugs, and adhere to their treatment regimen.
Shop for your medicines at Watsons.
References: https://hivinfo.nih.gov/understanding-hiv/fact-sheets/hiv-treatment-basics#:~:text=treatment%20for%20HIV%3F-,The%20treatment%20for%20HIV%20is%20called%20antiretroviral%20therapy%20(ART).,HIV%20live%20longer%2C%20healthier%20lives. Accessed 11 November 2020 https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/clinicians/treatment/care-retention.html#:~:text=Other%20benefits%20of%20regular%2C%20ongoing,hospitalization%2C%20and%20improved%20overall%20health. Accessed 11 November 2020 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/hiv.html. Accessed 11 November 2020 https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html. Accessed 11 November 2020 https://www.doh.gov.ph/press-release/HIV-DRUGS-SUPPLY-IS-STABLE-DOH. Accessed 11 November 2020
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