Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the treatment of HIV infection using a combination of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs).
Components of ART
ART is offered in a comprehensive manner that includes access to ongoing adherence counselling, baseline and periodic clinical and laboratory monitoring, prevention and management of opportunistic infection (OIs), treatment monitoring and follow-up.
What are the Goals of ART?
The goal of ART include to;
- Achieve control of HIV.
- Prevent the development of ARV drug resistance,
- Reduce illnesses that occur when a person’s immune system is weak
- Improve the quality of life of anyone living with HIV.
- Achieve normal growth and development of children in the womb of any woman living with HIV.
How Does ART Work?
- The treatment reduces the amount of HIV in the body, and thereby stops the progress of HIV infection to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) condition. However, there is no effective cure for HIV just like some other retroviral infections.
- When taken exactly as prescribed by a trained ART service provider, HIV medication can keep the amount of virus in the blood at a low level. This is called viral suppression. It may even make this “viral load” so low that an antibody HIV test kit cannot detect HIV antibodies in the blood or saliva of the person on treatment. When the viral load is undetectable, one can stay healthy and have essentially no risk of passing the virus on to other people.
Does Being on ART Prevent Other STIs?
Taking HIV medicine does not prevent the transmission of other sexually transmitted infections, like gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, genital warts and others.
When Should a Person Start ART?
As soon as possible after being diagnosed HIV positive. ART is for people with known status of HIV, regardless of when they have known their status or how healthy they are or look.
Are There Side Effects from ART?
Just like many other medications, HIV medicine can cause side effects in some people. However, not everyone experiences side effects. The most common side effects are
- Urge to vomit
- Dry mouth
- Fatigue, etc.
Where Can ART Services Be Accessed?
- At all general hospitals, teaching hospitals, and other relevant healthcare facilities.
- You can also access ART service at Heartland Alliance-managed OSS. Chat us for linkage to the OSS.