Being diagnosed with HIV can feel like the worst moment of your life. You go into a panic and you can’t think straight. Most people leave the testing clinic and never come back. This reaction is understandable and expected. However, research has shown that the sooner you get started on medication the longer and healthier life you will live.
To help patients get started, researchers have introduced a new strategy referred to as Test and Treat. This strategy allows doctors to give the first dose of medication to people who test positive to HIV immediately after diagnosis. Patients now don’t have to wait for weeks to get started.
Starting anti-retroviral therapy as soon as you can will lower your viral load improving your immunity. It will also decrease chances of spreading the virus to your partners.
Advantages of Test and Treat
When you visit a HIV clinic and you test positive, ask your doctor about the Test and Treat strategy. This method has several advantages:
- Test and Treat strategy allows patients to start taking ARVs immediately after testing positive. The ARVs begin knocking down the viral load lowering it faster to a level where it’s undetected. The lower your viral load the higher the chances that the virus will not develop to AIDS or suffer life threatening complications.
- Once your viral load goes down you are also less likely to spread the virus to others. Research has shown that low viral load reduces cases of transmission by 95 percent protecting your sexual partner(s) from getting infected.
- When patients start taking medication immediately it increases their chance of keeping up with treatment. This will then keep them healthy for longer. According to research, people will normally stop taking medication and going for reviews the period between diagnosis and confirmation of test results. About 30% of patients never go back to see a doctor after initial diagnosis. This is because of fear, hopelessness or denial. This means that they can continue to spread the virus.
Immediate treatment means that the doctors maintain contact with the patient improving their chances of continuing to take their medicines every day and stay healthy.
Why should You Take HIV Treatment?
The HIV virus attacks your body and kill your T-Cells. This then weakens your immunity system. If you go for long without taking medication, the virus keeps replicating and consequently progress to AIDS. You will not feel sick at first but as your immunity continues to go down you become prone to opportunistic diseases that will make you sick and even cause death.
If you test positive to HIV, make sure that you take the following HIV tests regularly:
- CD4 test: This test shows the amount of CD4 cells in your body.
- Viral load test: This test checks your viral load. That is the amount of viruses in your body.
These two tests are important because they keep a check on your HIV status to make sure that the viral load in your body doesn’t go up.
It’s no argument that starting medication early has lots of benefits and should be encouraged. Prolong your life by protecting yourself from renal and liver disease, major cardiovascular, AIDS-related cancer as well as non-AIDS cancer. If you are worried that you may have been exposed to the virus, Shim Clinic offers HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) that reduces the risk of HIV infection risk. Contact us today to learn more about the treatment.