Treatment of VIH

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The main aim of antiretroviral therapy is to reduce HIV multiplication as much as possible. The second objective, leading on from the first, is to allow the immune system to recover and therefore prevent the development of the various infectious and cancer-related complications presented by AIDS patients.

Drug therapy

Pill

Treatment is usually based on what is often called triple therapy –or highly active antiretroviral therapy– and includes two or three drugs from the class known as reverse-transcriptase inhibitors (RTIs), or two RTIs combined with a protease inhibitor.

pill with cup

Antiretroviral therapy is very effective but it has to be taken throughout the patient’s lifetime, so it is important that patients follow the treatment closely, as indicated by the doctor.

pill with warning sign

Antiretrovirals are well-tolerated and rarely cause secondary effects. If the patient has a poor tolerance for the medication, then it should be changed until another one is found which allows the patient to have a similar quality of life as that of a non-HIV-infected person.

Secondary effects

There are several specific secondary effects caused by antiretrovirals depending on the individual drug and its class. Today’s antiretroviral therapies have improved toxicity profiles. Nevertheless, even though the frequency of secondary effects is low, it is important to take into account that the medication must be taken correctly and for life. If the patient has a poor tolerance for the medication, then it should be changed until another one is found which allows the patient to have a similar quality of life as that of a non-HIV-infected person.

Psychological treatment

Psychological support is important to help HIV patients deal with the different situations they may face, particularly with respect to the complex treatment. A comprehensive approach to treating the infection results in a better quality of life for the patient.

Emotional Support

There are non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that can provide specialised psychological support and social care free of charge. One of the main characteristics of community programs and services is that they offer assistance to the most vulnerable members of society. This is done in a welcoming and safe environment where a beneficial link is created to provide psychosocial support and comprehensive services including help adapting to the new situation, health promotion and information about the patient’s rights as a user.

 

Vaccination

vaccination

The development of preventative vaccines effective against AIDS is the foremost issue pending a solution. Vaccination represents our greatest hope in eradicating HIV infection. However, it is a complex scientific task due to HIV’s adaptation and escape mechanisms for circumnavigating the body’s immune response and because of the difficulties involved in developing, implementing and assessing prototype vaccines. To date, no vaccines have been developed that can prevent HIV infection.

Substantiated information by:
Emma FernándezNurse — Infectious Disease DepartmentFelipe GarciaInfectious diseases specialist — Infectious Disease Department

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018

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