BENEFITS OF TREATING HIV EARLY
International guidelines recommend that people diagnosed with HIV start treatment sooner than previously advised and to consider starting treatment soon after you’re diagnosed, regardless of your CD4 count. Taking this step will result in a higher CD4 count and a stronger immune system to ensure good, long term health – but that’s just one of many benefits. Read on for all the ways HIV treatment can make your life better.
Treatments mean a longer life and almost zero risk of developing AIDS
Worried that HIV inevitably leads to AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) and an early death? That’s not the case.
HIV treatment has virtually eliminated AIDS in Australia. AIDS occurs when HIV has caused significant damage to your immune system, which then has difficulty fighting off common infections. Starting treatment for HIV at the right time will usually prevent people from ever developing AIDS.
Treatments reduce HIV-related inflammation that leads to other illnesses
We know that untreated HIV often means a high viral load which damages the body right from the start but treatment can reduce your viral load. What does that mean for your health? Well, less stress on the immune system for one thing.
When the immune system detects any infection, including HIV, it causes what’s known as an ‘inflammatory’ response. This is basically your immune system releasing chemicals that cause inflammation to help control infection. It’s helpful in the short term, for example, if you have the flu. But when you have untreated HIV, these chemicals are released continuously over time. That inflammatory response just never settles down and consequently, can cause damage to your heart, liver, kidneys and brain. HIV treatment can dramatically reduce inflammation, which in turn helps protect your organs.
Treatments can reduce depression, fatigue and ‘foggy’ thinking often associated with untreated HIV
For most people, HIV is a life-changing chronic condition and living with it can pose challenges. Many people with HIV experience fatigue, ‘foggy’ thinking, and difficulty with memory. Anxiety, and sometimes even depression, can also occur. Treatment can minimise these health issues.