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When to Start HIV Medicines

The US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has issued guidelines that advise when to start HIV medicines. HIV medicines are recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of CD4 count. In addition, HIV medicines are strongly recommended and should be started as soon as possible if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Have an AIDS-defining illness (an illness that is very unusual for someone without HIV)
  • Have HIV-related kidney disease
  • Have hepatitis B
  • The DHHS also notes the importance of starting HIV medicines if you are over the age of 50. 

There are many benefits to starting HIV medicines. HIV medicines may help you:

  • Preserve your immune system by keeping your CD4 count up  
  • Lower your viral load and keep it low to the point that it is undetectable
  • Live longer  
  • Reduce inflammation, which can harm your vital organs
  • Prevent your liver disease from getting worse, if you have hepatitis B or C
  • Prevent the spread of HIV through sexual activity
  • Prevent the spread of HIV during pregnancy
  • Prevent HIV-related illnesses, including: Heart disease , Kidney disease, Liver disease, Cancer, Conditions that affect your brain.

Potential limitations of starting HIV medicines early:

  • Risk of short- and long-term side effects and unknown problems related to HIV treatment, especially if you have no HIV symptoms
  • Risk that your HIV medicines may no longer work as well if you do not take them correctly, because the virus could adapt
  • Difficulty staying on lifelong treatment
  • Yearly cost of treatment

Starting HIV medicines promptly is an important step on the path to wellness with HIV. Talk with your healthcare provider to find out more about starting HIV medicines. For more information about HIV and its treatment, visit TreatHIVNow.com

Current HIV medicines do not cure HIV infection.