HIV/AIDS and TB > What are HIV and AIDS? > How Do You Treat HIV/AIDS?
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How Do You Treat HIV/AIDS?

You can find out whether you are HIV-positive by having a free blood test at any clinic or hospital. The results will,and should, only be given to you. If you are positive, you should tell your sexual partner so that he or she can also be tested and you should only practice safe sex by using a condom.

There is no cure for HIV, but there are many ways to help people living with HIV to strengthen their immune systems for example:

  • By treating the opportunistic infections that are caused by HIV so that people can live longer, for example, by giving people antibiotics to fight diseases
  • By following a healthy diet, exercising and living in a clean and healthy environment
  • By providing counselling and emotional support to the person and his or her family
  • Treating people with anti-retroviral drugs.

There are medications that can help to fight the illnesses like pneumonia and stomach infections that easily kill people with AIDS. These infections are called opportunistic infections. Many of the medicines used to fight opportunistic infections are available at clinics and the government is working to get more affordable medicines to people who need them.

Anti-retroviral treatment (ART), when taken properly, can greatly reduce the level of HIV in the body, reduce susceptibility to HIV/AIDS illness and extend the person’s life – sometimes for many years. ART prevents the virus from reproducing and helps prevent further damage to the body. Many people find that, after taking ART for a few months, the level of the virus in their blood is so low that it cannot be detected.

ART cannot, however, repair damage to organs and systems of the body that the virus has already made. Once a person goes on ART, they must accept that they will have to keep taking the medication for many years to come, and probably for the rest of their lives.