Getting Tested Is The New Sexy!
The key to stay safe is getting regularly TESTED for HIV and other sexualdiseases/infections every 3-6 months and knowing HOW to keep yourself safe. Safe Masti is your one-stop solution for testing clinics/labs, useful information on preventing HIV, and de-stigmatising life after HIV. Let’s start now!
Getting Tested Is The New Sexy!
Treatments And Medicines Available For HIV-Positive People
For HIV positive people like me, medicines are not something we take only when we are sick – it’s an important and indispensable part of our lives. So, let’s delve deeper into the range of medicines and treatments available.
The good news is, the developments in modern medicines have come a long way in ensuring HIV+ people have a chance to have a long, healthy and productive life.
Antiretroviral Treatment (ART) is the most important and commonly available drug for Post Exposure Prophylaxis, or PEP (causes the prevention of infection). If ART does not work, a virologist would likely put you on HAART (Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy).
HAART or ART, as a part of PEP, basically does three things:
- Control the growth of the virus
- Improves the CD4 count, i.e., immune system
- Slow or stop the symptoms
- Prevent HIV from spreading once the Viral Load comes to undetectable
ART or HAART is basically a composition of chemicals that do the aforementioned. They could have varying levels of side-effects as common as diarrhea, fatigue to as severe as depression and suicidal tendencies.
These are also prescription medicines, and it is important for a doctor of internal medicine, specializing in virology, to find the right combination for you. This can be only recommended after getting some tests done to check the state of your health. The side-effects of retroviral wear off in a few weeks to a few months. Still, it becomes absolutely essential to take care of oneself.
The most commonly available drug types (first line) is priced between INR 3000/- to INR 4000/- The most common one in India is Viraday. There are a handful of other popular drugs like Tenofovir or Ricovir.
The first line of drugs are to be taken once a day, and it is important that the time of the medicinal intake has to remain the same every day. An important word of caution is not to self-diagnose and start with self-treatment. You might find medical dispensaries which will sell you ART drug without any prescription – but only a virologist will help you devise the right drug-combination to best suit the nature of HIV virus and your health condition.
If the first line of drugs does not work – meaning, if the CD4 count does not increase, and the viral load doesn’t go down, the second and third line of treatment is certainly more effective, with lesser side effects. But the price rockets up from anywhere above INR 15000/-
Another important aspect of the second and third line of retroviral drugs is the issue of drug compliance. Drug compliance means adherence to a timely intake of drugs, which becomes difficult especially because these drugs have to be taken twice or thrice daily. The likeliness to forget taking medicine is much higher, which could end up compounding complications by increasing the resistance the virus has for drugs.
Fortunately, we now have NGOs, international organizations and government medical system backing us. Our Indian Government has spent INR 2.5 billion since 2007 to combat the spread of HIV-AIDS.
Even with that kind of support to be thankful for, it is important to remember that the cost of prevention is next to nothing in comparison to the physical, mental and emotional labor we face once we are HIV+. So while those of us on HIV treatment have support, it is still the best option for those who are not infected to stay safe – to practice safe sex.
- HIV and AIDS: A Quick Guide (Source: Mayo Clinic)
- Health Issues for MSM and Gay Men (Source: Mayo Clinic)
- HIV Testing and It’s Importance (Source: Mayo Clinic)
- What is Safe Sex and How is it Connected to HIV? (Source: John Hopkins Medicine)
- STD testing: What’s Right for You? (Source: Mayo Clinic)
- Male Condoms: Everything You Need to Know (Source: Mayo Clinic)
- Living Out and HIV-Positive in India (Source: HIV Plus Magazine)
Ever heard of PrEP? What does it stand for? How does it work? Where is it available? Is it effective? You’ll find the answers to all these questions and more in the second part of the HIV 101 video. Watch the video and stay PrEPared!
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