New to Treatment

HIV may be part of you, but it's not who you are
HIV may be part of you, but it's not who you are

Learning about HIV is important when looking for the right treatment option for you

Having a grasp of HIV-related terminology can prove helpful in determining the next steps in your treatment journey. Here are some of the most frequently used terms you may encounter in discussions with your healthcare practitioner.

HIV 101

  • What is HIV?

    HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. This means the virus weakens your immune system and impairs its ability to fight other viruses or infections.

  • What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

    HIV and AIDS are different. AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and can lead to serious infections and other health risks. HIV doesn’t always result in AIDS. Today’s treatment can keep HIV under control.

  • How do you contract HIV?

    HIV can be contracted through anal or vaginal sex, as well as through sharing needles, syringes, or other drug injection equipment. 

  • What are some of the symptoms of HIV?

    The most common symptoms of an HIV infection are very similar to those of a flu-like illness: fever, chills, rashes, fatigue, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes, among others.

  • What are CD4+ T-cells?

    CD4+ T-cells are a type of white blood cell that helps fight infection by triggering your immune system.

  • Why is it important to monitor your CD4+ T-cell count?

    Your CD4+ T-cell count is an indicator of your immune system’s health and helps your doctor forecast your condition moving forward. 

Understanding U=U

  • What is undetectable?

    Reaching and staying undetectable is the main goal of HIV treatment. Simply put, it means that the amount of HIV in the blood is below the level that can be measured by a lab test.

  • What does U=U mean?

    U=U stands for Undetectable equals Untransmittable.
    According to the Department of Health and Human Services, people living with HIV who reach and stay undetectable by taking their HIV medication as prescribed prevent transmitting HIV through sex. First, talk to your doctor about further risks of sexual HIV transmission.

    U=U (Undetectable equals untransmittable) image
    U=U (Undetectable equals untransmittable) image
  • How long does someone need to be on HIV treatment before the sexual transmission of HIV is prevented?

    Achieving an undetectable viral load can take time. Taking HIV treatment as prescribed and getting to and staying undetectable for at least 6 months prevents transmitting HIV through sex. Viral load testing should be performed on a regular basis to confirm HIV remains at an undetectable level.

  • Should I still practice safe sex if I am undetectable?

    Regardless of status, condoms can help you lead a healthy sexual life. Unlike HIV treatment, condoms can prevent other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy.

Figuring out your HIV treatment

  • What should I consider when evaluating an HIV treatment?

    When evaluating an HIV treatment, consider the following:

  • Why should I start HIV treatment early?

    If you were recently diagnosed, you may be wondering, “When should I start HIV treatment?” The answer is that it’s important to start antiretroviral therapy (ART) soon after an HIV diagnosis rather than delaying therapy. That’s because treatment can help keep HIV under control, so the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll be on the path to suppressing the virus.

  • Why should I stay on HIV treatment?

    People living with HIV who start and stay on HIV treatment can now live longer lives compared with those who started treatment in earlier decades.

    Based on data (Lancet HIV, 2017) showing improvement in life expectancy between 1996 and 2013 among individuals starting antiretroviral therapy. Regimens in this study did not include DOVATO.

  • What else should I know about HIV treatment?

    Staying informed about all of your treatment options is an important part of taking charge of your health, now and down the line. A good rule of thumb is to check in with your doctor regularly and bring any questions you may have.