With the right treatment and care, many people living with HIV can expect to live just as long as someone who is HIV negative

Is there any treatment for HIV?

You may have heard that HIV will develop into the fatal AIDS for which there is no cure. This is no longer the case! Most of the opportunistic infections associated with HIV can be treated and more importantly prevented. These drugs inhibit the progression of HIV in the body so that people with HIV can live longer and avoid AIDS. These drugs are known as antiretroviral drugs or ARVs. ARV drugs must be taken for life and to be most effective require consistent adherence (taking them at the same time every day). This is vital as consistently forgotten courses of ARV may severely limit the effectiveness of the therapy.

To improve compliance (compliance is when the drugs are taken consistently), the government has started issuing fixed dose combination antiretroviral drugs so that people living with HIV only have to take one pill once a day. Previously people living with HIV had to take a number of pills each day.

What is the cost of treatment?

The drugs for ARV are can be very expensive, but the Indonesian government has made them freely available to HIV positive Indonesian citizens. Fully subsidized (free) ARV medication is available through select hospitals and clinics who specialise in patients living with HIV.

When should I start taking treatment?

Currently the Indonesian government is running a pilot project named SUFA (Strategic Use of ARVs). This is a pilot project in order to break the chain of HIV transmission by providing antiretroviral treatment strategy for people living with HIV immediately. Previously, new PLWHA advised to start ARV therapy when CD4 (an immune system cell attacked by HIV) numbers fell under number 350. This is important as being on ARV dramatically limits the chances of you passing on HIV to anybody else.

Why is it important?

By taking treatment early and consistently, you can dramatically lower the amount of HIV in your body. This not only ensures that you are able to maintain a healthy immune system, but also lowers the chances of you being able to pass on HIV to someone else. Being consistently on treatment can bring HIV in your body to an undetectable level.

What is an “undetectable viral load”?

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