You Were Diagnosed With HIV, Now What?
Hearing the news that you have HIV is not easy. Those three letters can resonate in your head with such force that they cloud your judgment for a few moments. the fact that you now know that you live with a chronic infection and all the implications that this new life can have, can shake you to the core.
But after the initial shock, the really important thing is to take action, so that you start to take care of your health and keep it in the best possible state for a long time. For this, it is important to start antiretroviral treatment early.
How Does the Treatment Work?
HIV is an infection that, so far, has no cure, but it is possible to keep it under control. This is achieved through specific medications, called antiretrovirals.
Once the virus enters the body, it attacks defense cells and uses them as a host to multiply, destroying them in the process. Thus, the body is exposed to other harmful agents (such as bacteria and other viruses). The role of antiretrovirals is to prevent HIV from invading and destroying defense cells.
With no way to multiply, the amount of HIV in the body decreases and stays low. The ultimate goal of treatment is to keep the amount of virus so small that it cannot be detected with the available tests, which is called an undetectable viral load. This does not mean that the virus has been eliminated, but that it is so scarce that it cannot harm the defense system.
By being undetectable you also prevent transmitting the virus to your partners, since having such a low load of it in your blood and fluids, which is, as the word says “undetectable”, reduces the possibility down to practically zero of you transmitting it. However, people who are undetectable, like all people, should keep using condoms as their primary method of protection.
If I Feel Fine, Should I Take Treatment?
All people who have been diagnosed with HIV must take antiretroviral treatment. This is because it has been scientifically proven that drugs keep the virus under control, and even improve the condition of someone who is already in the AIDS stage (the syndrome that represents the most serious phase of infection).
For this reason, entering treatment is a crucial step on the path that a person with HIV follows. It is important for you to know that antiretroviral treatment is free in all Latin American and Caribbean countries, so no matter where you are, there will always be a health institution that will provide you with the medications you need.
It does not matter if you feel healthy or if you have been infected for many years, treatment is useful to achieve and/or maintain an optimal state of health, very similar to that of a person without HIV.
In addition, taking antiretrovirals properly not only benefits you but also the person or people with whom you have sex, since someone with an undetectable viral load cannot transmit HIV to others in this way.
Don’t think twice and take action, at AHF Latin America and the Caribbean we help you know where and how to start your antiretroviral treatment. Locate the closest center in your country or contact us through WhatsApp.