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Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) for Treating HIV ?

What is ART?

The medicines used to treat HIV infection are called antiretrovirals. Antiretroviral therapy, or ART, refers to taking these medicines to treat HIV infection.

What we know about art:

A male physician and a female physician discussing lab results together

ART reduces the amount of HIV (called "viral load") in the blood and elsewhere in the body to very low levels. This is called viral suppression. ART can reduce a person's viral load to such a low level that current HIV tests can't detect it. This is called undetectable viral load. + ART can be prescribed only by a health care provider.

Most viral load tests measure the amount of HIV in blood plasma. Even if someone's blood plasma viral load is undetectable, the virus can still be found in certain blood cells and in semen and vaginal fluid, especially if a person also has another sexually transmitted disease (STD).

Taking ART reduces the chances of transmitting HIV to an HIV-negative partner by about 96%. ART can also help prevent HIV transmission from mother to baby during pregnancy or labor. If a woman is treated for HIV early in her pregnancy, the risk of transmitting HIV to her baby can be 1% or less.

Being virally suppressed or having an undetectable viral load is good for an HIV-positive person's overall health. It also greatly reduces the chance of transmitting the virus to a sexual or drug-using partner who does not have HIV. +

Having anal or vaginal sex with an HIV-positive partner who is on ART and is virally suppressed is 25 times less risky than sex an HIV-positive partner who is not on ART and is not virally suppressed.

However, this is only true if a person can get and stay virally suppressed. One thing that can increase viral load is not taking HIV medicines the right way, every day.

What you can do

Three pill bottles with different medications