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HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a viral, sexually transmitted infection (STI) that attacks the body’s immune system, specifically the CD4 cells—also known as T-cells. These cells play a crucial role in the immune response, protecting the body against infections. When the immune system becomes compromised, individuals become more susceptible to various infections and diseases, including those that are typically harmless to a healthy immune system.
HIV is transmitted through the exchange of certain bodily fluids, such as blood, semen, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. Some common ways that HIV can be transmitted include:
- Unprotected sexual contact with an HIV-positive individual
- Sharing needles or other injection equipment
- Mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding
- Accidental exposure to infected blood, such as in healthcare settings
To prevent transmission, practicing safe sex and not sharing needles are crucial steps to take. Additionally, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is a medication that can be taken by individuals who are at high risk of contracting HIV to lower their chances of infection.
In recent years, advances in medical research and technology have led to significant improvements in the treatment and management of HIV. Let’s look more closely at what HIV treatment entails.
HIV Treatment Options
While there is no cure for HIV, there are several HIV treatment options available to help manage the virus and improve the quality of life for those living with the virus. The primary form of treatment is antiretroviral therapy (ART), which involves taking a combination of medications to suppress the virus, protect the immune system, and prevent the progression to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). There are two main types of ART: pills and shots (long-acting injectable medications).
ART Pills – Pills are the most common form of ART and are recommended for most people living with HIV. They are typically taken daily, as part of a combination therapy consisting of at least three antiretroviral (ARV) medications. These medications target different stages of the HIV life cycle, preventing the virus from replicating and reducing the viral load in the body. The specific combination of medications prescribed depends on factors such as the individual’s medical history, the strain of HIV they have, and any potential drug interactions.
ART Shots (Long-Acting Injectable Medications) – Long-acting injectable medications—or shots—are a relatively new form of ART that may be considered for some people living with HIV. These injections are typically administered by a healthcare professional every one or two months, depending on the specific medication. They offer an alternative to daily oral medications and can be especially beneficial for individuals who have difficulty adhering to a daily pill regimen. These medications are used in combination and are suitable for individuals who have achieved viral suppression through the use of oral medications and have no history of treatment failure or drug resistance.
Regular medical checkups and blood tests are essential for individuals living with HIV. These tests help monitor the effectiveness of ART, assess the overall health of the immune system, and detect any potential side effects or complications.
Strict adherence to the prescribed ART regimen is critical for the success of HIV treatment. Skipping doses or not taking medications as prescribed can lead to drug resistance, reduced effectiveness of treatment, and an increased risk of illness.
Managing HIV often requires ongoing support and counseling to address the emotional, social, and psychological challenges associated with living with the virus. This may include individual or group therapy, peer support groups, and educational programs.
The Importance of Comprehensive HIV Care
Comprehensive care is essential for people living with HIV, as it encompasses not only medical treatment but also mental health support, social services, and preventive care. By addressing the various aspects of living with HIV, comprehensive care helps individuals maintain their overall well-being and manage their condition effectively.
At Community Care Resources of Florida (CCRSFL), we are dedicated to delivering the highest quality of care to those in our community by providing excellent medical services, therapy, and outreach to individuals affected by sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, hepatitis C, and/or substance abuse. We strive to deliver healthcare with compassion and affordability to all.
Since our foundation, our goal has been to serve our Altamonte Springs, Hallandale Beach, and Haines City communities by providing access to care and resources that help our patients become healthier through safer practices with their partners. We have qualified technicians available to serve you. If you’re interested in our services, you can book an appointment on our website or call us at 1(877) 287-2520!
Contact any of our offices if you need testing and treatment.
106 Boston Avenue Suite 204
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701
280 Patterson Road, Suite 3
Haines City, FL 33844
1008 West Hallandale Beach Boulevard
Hallandale Beach, FL 33009