Live Healthy with HIV

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Today, living healthy with HIV is a primary goal for HIV-positive individuals. Thanks to advancements in HIV treatment, living a long and healthy life is not only possible, it can be expected in most cases. Follow these steps to begin treatment, achieve viral suppression, and prevent transmission of HIV to others.

Definitions

(These words are bolded in the main text)

AIDS – The most serious stage of HIV infection. AIDS results from the destruction of the infected person’s immune system.

Antiretroviral therapy – Medications that interfere with the replication, or reproduction, of retroviruses and slow the progression of disease. HIV is a retrovirus. You and your doctor will determine the best time to start treatment with these medications, depending on your overall health, the amount of virus in your blood, and how well your immune system is working.

Baseline – An initial measurement made before starting therapy and used as a reference point to monitor the HIV infection.

CD4 count – The number of CD4 cells in a blood sample. CD4 cells are white blood cells that fight infection. HIV destroys CD4 cells, weakening the body’s immune system.

Drug resistance test – A test that determines if an HIV strain is resistant to any anti-HIV medications.

Immune system – The body’s defense system. The immune system’s cells fight off infection and other diseases. If your immune system does not work well, you are at risk for serious and life-threatening infections and diseases. HIV attacks and destroys the disease-fighting cells of the immune system, leaving the body with a weakened defense.

Pap test – A method to examine cells for early signs of uterine cancer.

Viral load test – A test that measures the amount of HIV in a blood sample and shows how well the immune system is controlling the virus.