Goals of HIV Therapy
Your health care professional is your partner in the fight against HIV. The more openly and honestly you can express your needs, the better the health care professional can start you—and keep you—on a course of HIV therapy that works best for you. In the past, you may have avoided talking about personal matters. Now, you will need to be open and honest about many areas of your life to help your health care professional determine the HIV treatment that best fits your lifestyle needs.
Use a calendar to keep track of important dates that are significant to you and your HIV treatment. Most importantly, keep track of your lab results, like your CD4 count (how strong your immune system is) and your viral load (how much HIV is in your blood).
- Keep your CD4 count high
- Keep your viral load undetectable
Important Blood Tests:
CD4 count—Amount of CD4 cells (immune system cells)
HIV lowers your CD4 count, which makes it easier for you to get sick. A higher CD4 count is better.
- Normal CD4 count: 500–1,600
Viral load—Amount of HIV in your blood
An undetectable viral load is your goal. If your viral load is low enough, it is called "undetectable."
Take your medicines as your health care professional prescribes
Treatment can only work if medications are taken when and how your health care professional tells you. If you're like most people, you may not like to take medication. However, this is the most important action you can take. Anything less may give the virus enough room to get stronger, making it harder to treat. Whether you've just begun treatment or you’re on your second or third regimen, your health care professional can be your best partner as you go on a path to healthier living with HIV.
Find ways to make it work
- Keep a pill organizer on your dresser
- Put Post-it notes on your bathroom mirror
- Ask friends who are also on medication about how they stay on it
- There are even programs that send reminders to your cell phone
Your loved ones have probably recommended herbs or supplements for different types of health problems, which may have worked. But that doesn't mean that those remedies can replace the treatment prescribed by your health care professional.
Sticking to your HIV therapy schedule is one of the best ways of fighting the virus. Tell your doctor how you feel because there may be other treatment options for you. To get the most from improvements in therapy, it's important to talk to your health care professional about your lifestyle needs.