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Is there a cure?

At this time, there is no cure for HIV. But there are things you can do.

Because this is the current reality, it is important that people who are not infected with HIV stay negative and that those living with HIV/AIDS stay healthy.

For people infected with HIV, drug development has helped to change the face of the disease. Whereas HIV infection used to mean certain death, drug therapy has helped to prolong and improve the quality of life for many individuals.

HIV is a retrovirus, so drugs that target the virus are called antiretroviral (ARV) drugs. There are many types of ARVs, but they all work by slowing the growth or inhibiting the replication of the virus. Although these drugs do not kill the virus, they effectively reduce the levels of HIV in the blood. Some HIV patients worry that HIV medications will be hard to take because of side effects or will cause their bodies to change. Older HIV medicines did have more frequent side effects and could contribute to fat loss in the face, arm, and legs, and increased fat in the belly. Currently available ART medications are much easier to tolerate, with fewer and less-severe side effects and less-frequent dosing, including combination pills that reduce treatment to 1 or 2 pills a day. It is very uncommon to have body changes with the current ART. Most patients can get on a very well tolerated HIV regimen that is easy to take and causes few, if any, side effects.

In choosing to begin drug therapy to treat HIV, it is important to discuss your options with a doctor. The doctor will perform blood tests to determine your viral load (how much HIV is in your blood) and your T-cell (CD4+) levels (how strong your immune system is). Knowing these test results and the symptoms you have experienced will allow the two of you to decide when to begin treatment and which therapies to use.