I have some questions about ARVs, can you help?
Hi. I have a few questions about hiv and Antiretroviral drugs, please answer me.
a) Are Antiretroviral drugs totally free in private and public hospitals country wide?
b) If one suspects to be hiv +ve can he or she take the Antiretroviral drugs, without going for testing (fear of knowing hiv status which MAY lead to psychological disturbance if +ve)?
c) Do Antiretroviral drugs have side effects after taking them for a long time.
d) Do Antiretroviral drugs help those who are towards the last stage of AIDS disease?
e) Do the Antiretroviral drugs have effects if taken by someone who is not hiv positive?
f) Do Antiretroviral drugs stop and prevent arise of opportunistic diseases?
a) This depends on your country, but most countries have programmes for you to access ARVs for free. Again, whether you can access them from private hospitals may vary but public hospitals is very likely.
b)No. These are all prescription meds and this depends on being diagnosed as HIV positive. Taking ARVs when you are unsure could lead to resistance developing if you are positive and not taking the best treatment for your infection. Many people struggle with an HIV diagnosis but as treatment has improved so much, HIV positive people live full and healthy lives. It’s also important to test regularly so you can protect your partners from passing on undiagnosed HIV.
c) Yes some people experience side effects but newer treatment means these are less frequent and normally only last a few weeks. See here for more:
d)Yes, even taking ARVs after getting very sick from having HIV undiagnosed for a long time, people will do very well on treatment. If you are diagnosed late, you are at risk of other infections and you may have to take additional drugs to ARVs to treat or prevent these developing.
e)Taking HIV drugs is not recommended if not positive. However, many people are now taking ARVs for something called PrEP – Pre exposure prophylaxis. This involves taking a does of ARVs (usually daily) to reduce the risk of catching HIV if you are risk from HIV e.g. having an HIV positive partner who is not on treatment.
f)Taking ARVs keeps your immune system healthy and prevents you developing opportunistic infections. Sometimes if you immune system is very weak from HIV when diagnosed you will need to take medication directly to treat and prevent opportunistic infections.
Please let me know if you have any more questions.