The most important thing you can do after you receive an HIV diagnosis is to begin seeing a doctor. Make sure the doctor you choose is an HIV specialist so they are current on all of the new treatments and trends. This is very important because there have been so many improvements and conveniences to medications over the past several years. Your HIV specialist can begin monitoring your body and your HIV. Seeing a doctor regularly will help assure you’ll start treatment, get it right and stick with it .
Your First Doctor Visit
It is extremely important that you are completely honest with your doctor and staff members. If you think a question might be a little too personal or intrusive, just ask why the question is important and listen to the answer rather than being evasive. Things you think are minor or have no significance can actually be very important to your treatment.
Your doctor will review your tests and information then work with you on an individualized regimen that will be based on many of the following factors:
- Pre-existing physical conditions, ailments and diseases
It's Recommended To Start Treatment Immediately.
The CD4 test measures your CD4 T-cells or just “T-cells.” Your T-cells play an important part in the immune system and HIV, as time goes on, destroys them. The average person without HIV has between 500 and 1200 T-cells (which are measured within a cubic millimeter of blood). When your T-cells drop below 200 or when you have an opportunistic infection, you are considered to have AIDS.
The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines earlier (2006) gave the 200 T-cell mark as the point to start treatment. This is still a starting point in some developing countries. Until the recent guidelines change for the U.S., most physicians would start patients on therapy between the 350 and 500 T-cell mark. Many physicians who recommend starting sooner did so to make sure there is no damage at all to the immune system.
Now however, findings from two large trials that addressed the optimal time to initiate ART - START (Strategic Timing of Antiretroviral Therapy) and TEMPRANO—have led the guidelines panel to recommend immediate treatment, for all patients, regardless of CD4 cell count. Both studies demonstrated about a 50% reduction in morbidity and mortality among HIV-infected individuals with CD4 counts greater than 500 to receive ART immediately versus delaying initiation of ART. Prompt initiation of ART is particularly important for patients with certain clinical conditions which are the following:
The decision to initiate treatment will also include consideration of a patient’s comorbid conditions (additional diseases or disorders) and his or her willingness and readiness to initiate therapy. On a case-by-case basis, ART may be delayed because of clinical and/or psychosocial factors however, therapy should be initiated as soon as possible.
Your First HIV Treatment Regimen
Copyright 2018, Positive Health Publications, Inc.
This magazine is intended to enhance your relationship with your doctor - not replace it! Medical treatments and products should always be discussed with a licensed physician who has experience treating HIV and AIDS!