Treatment for HIV / AIDS
HIV is a virus that is treatable but not curable.
At your first appointment, your physician will talk with you about your medical history, perform a physical exam and order blood work. This is a good time to ask questions about HIV / AIDS.
Do some research before your appointment. You can find information on HIV and AIDS online or at your local library. Doing research before your appointment will help you prepare specific questions for your physician.
Some questions you might ask are:
- How healthy is my immune system and how will it be monitored?
- How often will I need tests?
- What kind of tests will I need?
- How do I prepare for treatment?
- How do I avoid transmitting HIV to others?
- What are the risks if I forget or don't take my medications?
The goal of treatment is two-fold:
1) to decrease your viral load, or how much virus is visible in your bloodstream
2) to increase your T-cells, a marker of your immune system status
There has been a significant amount of advancement in the knowledge about HIV since the 1980s and now there are newer medicines that have minimal to no side effects. Your provider will discuss these different medication options with you. Together, a plan will be formulated to have you on the best medicines for you and your lifestyle. Starting medicines suggests your lifetime commitment to a healthier lifestyle.
Ask the Doctor
- Dr. Karen Brust
Do I have to start medicines? Can I start medicines immediately?
Dr. Brust: The decision to start medicines will be based on each individual's desire to start and engage in this lifelong commitment. When to start, is also individualized and in part depends on your immune system's status.
What do I tell my family? My boyfriend? My girlfriend?
Dr. Brust: HIV is a sexually transmitted disease and is spread by direct contact with semen and blood. Living together with someone does not put that person at risk of contracting HIV. Safe sex practices will help protect your partner. Please take the opportunity to discuss these issues with your physician.
Dr. Karen Brust's patient emphasis is HIV / AIDS. She also serves as Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine with the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine.