There is no cure for AIDS at this time. But treatments are available to manage symptoms. Treatment can also improve the quality and length of life for those who have already developed symptoms.
HIV is treated using a combination of medicines to fight HIV infection. This is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART isn’t a cure, but it can control the virus so that you can live a longer, healthier life and reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others. Antiretroviral therapy suppresses the replication of the HIV virus in the body. A combination of antiretroviral drugs, called antiretroviral therapy (ART), also known as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), is very effective in reducing the amount of HIV in the bloodstream.
If you have been exposed to the virus within the last 72 hours, anti-HIV medication may stop you becoming infected. For it to be effective, the medication, called post-exposure prophylaxis or PEP, must be started within 72 hours of coming into contact with the virus. It is only recommended following higher risk exposure, particularly where the sexual partner is known to be positive. PEP is ideally done within hours of coming into contact with HIV. But it is not guaranteed to work.
Treatment is usually recommended to begin when your CD4 cell count falls towards 350 or below, whether or not you have any symptoms. In some people with other medical conditions, treatment may be started at higher CD4 cell counts. When to start treatment should be discussed with your doctor.
The aim of the treatment is to reduce the level of HIV in the blood, allow the immune system to repair itself and prevent any HIV-related illnesses.