Treatment, Management and Care of HIV Patient
Being HIV-positive does not mean that one should start, medication.
Treatment of HIV depends on several factors such as CD4 count and viral load.
HIV experts usually recommend an HIV-positive person to start medication if any of the following applies :
- A person experience severe symptoms of HIV.
- A person is an opportunistic infection.
- A patient’s CD4 count is 350 Cells/mm3 or less.
- If the patient is pregnant.
- If a person has HIV-related kidney disease.
Once medication is administered to a person, it’s important that the patient schedule regular visits to the healthcare providers as well as follow strictly the prescription of the medication given.
Failure to observe the medication guide, may lead to one developing drug resistance and that could make HIV medication to stop working.
For treatment of HIV to be successful, a patient should know what to expect in the treatment program and should committed to following the plan which has been provided by the healthcare.
Starting HIV treatment means making a significant shift of the patient’s lifestyle, therefore, it is important for the patient to know what he/she is getting into.
Some of the lifestyle changes a patient has to make are related to the way the HIV meds work hence are inevitable. For instance some HIV needs may require that a patient eat meals at certain times of the day while other HIV meds have to be taken more than once a day at specified times and taking them with meals may make them more less effective.
If a patient has any other health conditions/ailments in addition to HIV, and the patient takes drugs for the conditions, the patient might have to learn to take the drugs at different times of the day or change them altogether. This is because some drugs might alter the way the body processes other medications when taken together. The drugs can make some medications ineffective or they can increase the amount of medication in a patient’s body.
All these issues should be discussed with the healthcare provider before the treatment of HIV is administered.
HIV Treatment: Basics
Anti-retroviral Therapy (ART)
Antiretroviral therapy is the use of HIV medicines to treat HIV infection. It involves taking a combination of HIV regimen daily. It can’t cure HIV, but it helps people with HIV live longer and healthier lives hence its highly recommend to HIV –positive patients.
How HIV Meds Work.
HIV virus attacks and destroys the infection-fighting CD4 cells of the human immune system. The reduction of the CD4 cells poses threats for the body as it makes it hard to fight off infections.
HIV meds prevent HIV from multiplying itself thus reducing the number of HIV in the human body.
Having a low number of HIV is favorable to the human body, since it enables the immune system to recover. Even though HIV is still present in the human body, it is scarce thus enabling the immune system to get strong enough to fight off infection.
Also be reducing the HIV amount in the human body, risks of HIV transmission to sexual partners is also reduced.
Risks of taking HIV meds.
Potential risks of ART are seen in the form of side effects of the medication and the drug interaction between HIV medicines or between HIV medicine and other medicines that a patient maybe taking.
Failure to adhere to the medication schedule of HIV could result to drug resistance which is another risk of ART.
The side effects may vary among HIV patients and also depending on the medicine administered. Patients taking the same HIV medication can have different side effects.
They include :
- Liver damage
- Swelling of mouth and tongue
HIV meds can interact with other HIV meds in an HIV regimen.
They can also interact with other medication that a patient is taking for other ailments.
A drug interaction can cause a medicine to be less effective or stronger than desired and can also increase the side effects of medication.
Multiplication of HIV can result to mutation (change of form) as the HIV makes variations of itself.
Variations of HIV that develop when a patients is taking drugs can lead to drug-resistant strains of HIV. This means that HIV meds that worked previously for a patient’s HIV can’t suppress the new drug-resistant HIV, i.e. the patient’s HIV will continue to multiply.
Drug resistance can cause poor HIV treatment and is caused by none adherence to the schedule of HIV treatment prescribed by a healthcare provider.