Community & Hospital, CDC

Treating HIV

HIV is a treatable condition. If you are diagnosed early, get on antiretroviral therapy (ART), and adhere to your medication, you can stay healthy, live a normal life span, and reduce the chances of transmitting HIV to others. Part of staying healthy is seeing your HIV care provider regularly so that he or she can track your progress and make sure your HIV treatment is working for you.

Today, there are 31 antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat HIV infection. These treatments do not cure people of HIV or AIDS. Rather, they suppress the virus, even to undetectable levels, but they do not completely eliminate HIV from the body.

By suppressing the amount of virus in the body, people infected with HIV can now lead longer and healthier lives. However, they can still transmit the virus and must continuously take antiretroviral drugs in order to maintain their health quality. Ask your doctor today about our free Medication Therapy Management for our patients to help you get the best treatment options for your overall health.

These HIV treatments are currently being investigated:

These are the approved treatments in the USA:

Learn more about your medication at:

Use tool kits and available resources (e-mail and text reminders, etc) to help you remember your med schedule. For more information, see VA’s Tips for staying on your treatment plan.

  • If you feel that your med schedule is getting to be too much for you to handle, talk with your healthcare provider and discuss your concerns.
  • Put your medication in a pill box that can hold a week’s worth of drugs. That will help you keep track of what you have, and haven’t, taken, and it will save you time, since you won’t have to open multiple pill bottles every day. It will also make it easier to take your meds while you are traveling.
  • Use timers or alarms on your cell phone or watch to help remind you to take your meds on time.
  • Try your best to develop a routine. Take your medications at the same time each day—it can help to take them at the same time you do another daily activity (like watching a nightly game show or reading the morning paper). This is a way to connect taking your meds with things you would normally be doing anyway.

Good nutrition is important to all people—whether or not they are living with HIV. But some conditions related to HIV/AIDS and its treatment (including, wasting, diarrhea, and lipid abnormalities), mean that proper nutrition is really important to people with HIV. Eating well is key to maintaining strength, energy, and a healthy immune system. In addition, because HIV can lead to immune suppression, food safety and proper hygiene is a concern to prevent infections.

For more information, see the Department of Veterans Affair’s HIV/AIDS: Why is Nutrition Important?

HIV and many of its treatments can change your body’s metabolism—or the way your body processes nutrients and other substances (like body fat). Some of these metabolic changes can lead to lipodystrophy, insulin resistance, and wasting syndrome, and can affect the way you look and feel.

In addition, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are common conditions associated with HIV and its treatments. These side effects can keep you from eating or cause you to lose essential nutrients. They can also cause you to be dehydrated.

Because HIV progression is often slow, changes in your metabolism and physical appearance may be slow as well. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to your diet and eat properly on a daily basis—it will help you in the long-run.

If you are experiencing metabolic changes, or vomiting and diarrhea, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to discuss these important issues with your healthcare provider. Your provider will need to know what’s happening with your body in order to decide the best way of supporting your nutritional needs. While some of these issues can’t be prevented or treated with dietary modifications alone, healthy eating and proper nutrition are critical parts of the process.

For more information, see USDA’s HIV/AIDS: Diet and Disease, or Project Inform’s Nutrition and Weight Maintenance.