Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) are medications used for the treatment of HIV. The drugs do not cure or kill the virus. But, when these medicines are taken in combination form they actually help in the prevention of the growth of the virus. When the virus is slowed down, so is the HIV disease.
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Antiretroviral drugs are referred as ARV and the Combination ARV therapy (cART) is referred to as highly active ART(HAART).
ART is recommended for everyone who is suffering from HIV. The therapy helps people with HIV live healthier and longer lives.
Doctors suggest that people with HIV should start antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible. Those people with HIV with conditions such as AIDS, certain HIV-related illnesses and coinfections, pregnancy, and recent HIV infection, it’s especially important to start ART right away.
Before starting ART, people with HIV should discuss the benefits and risks of antiretroviral therapy with their health care providers or doctors. They should also discuss the importance of medication adherence for taking HIV medicines every day and as prescribed.
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What is the HIV Life-Cycle?
There are several steps in the HIV life cycle including;
- Free virus circulation throughout the bloodstream.
- The HIV virus attacks the cell.
- The virus empties its content into the cell.
- The HIV genetic material i.e. RNA is used by the reverse transcriptase enzyme for the formation of the HIV DNA.
- The HIV DNA is injected into the cell’s chromosome with the help of HIV integrase enzyme followed by HIV infection in the cell.
- When the infected cell reproduces, it activates the HIV DNA that helps in making the raw material for new HIV viruses.
- All the material for a new virus come together.
- The immature virus derived out of the infected cell through the process called budding.
- The immature virus bursts of the infected cell.
- The new virus matures, raw materials are cut with the help of protease enzyme and assembled into a functioning virus.
When a Person Starts Antiretroviral Therapy (ART), Why is Medication Adherence Important?
Before starting antiretroviral therapy, people with HIV should know the benefits as well as the risks of antiretroviral therapy. They should also know the importance of medication adherence like taking HIV medicines every day as prescribed.
Adherence to an HIV regimen helps in preventing HIV from multiplying and destroying the immune system of the body. Taking HIV medicines every day also helps in reducing the risk of HIV transmission.
Before starting antiretroviral therapy, it’s important to address issues that can make medication adherence difficult.
Flow Chat to Better Understand the Antiretroviral Therapy (ART):
Image source: The Lancet
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