Testing & Medicine

What is the benefit of an HIV test?
Knowing your HIV status can have three important benefits:
If you learn that you are HIV positive, you can take the necessary steps before symptoms appear to access treatment, care and support, thereby potentially prolonging your life for many years.
If you are diagnosed early, you can start treatment on ART (Anti-Retroviral Therapy), which will prevent the virus from multyplying in your body, and should lead to prolonging your life.
If you know that you are infected, you can take precautions to prevent the spread of HIV to others.

What are antiretroviral drugs (ARVs/ART)?
Antiretroviral drugs/therapy are used in the treatment and prevention of HIV infection. They fight HIV by stopping or interfering with the reproduction of the virus in the body. For those who can cope the side effects of this therapy, it will prolong the life so that the HIV infection could be regarded as a chronic disease instead of a deadly. There is so far no cure that can help a person get rid of the HIV infection.

What is the current status of Antiretroviral Therapies (ART)?
Approximately 8 million people in low- and middle-income countries were receiving HIV antiretroviral therapy at the end of 2010. Until 2003, the high cost of the medicines, weak or inadequate health-care infrastructure, and lack of financing prevented wide use of combination antiretroviral treatment in low- and middle-income countries. But in recent years, increased political and financial commitment has allowed an expansion of access to HIV therapy. In some countries it is still hard for people living with HIV to access or take the medicine due to stigma. 14 million people are in need for treatment.

Is there a cure for HIV?
No, there is no cure for HIV. But with good and continued adherence to antiretroviral treatment, the progression of HIV in the body can be slowed to a near halt. Increasingly, people living with HIV are kept well and productive for extended periods of time, even in low-income countries.

What other kinds of care do people living with HIV need?
In addition to antiretroviral treatment, people with HIV often need counselling and psychosocial support. Access to good nutrition, safe water and basic hygiene can also help people living with HIV to maintain an equal quality of life. Societies need to work on reducing stigma.