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Human Immunodeficiency Virus: Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis

  • Several blood tests are available to identify HIV infection.
  • After diagnosis, further blood testing is recommended every three to six months to evaluate the progression of the disease and the need for antibiotics to prevent other infections. In addition, routine follow–up testing is important to assess the adequacy of treatment and to monitor for medication side effects.
  • All individuals diagnosed with HIV should be tested for other sexually transmitted diseases, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

Treatment

  • Antiviral medications are the standard therapy for HIV. Combination therapy, in which three or more medications are prescribed simultaneously, is used to attack the HIV virus from multiple angles. To prevent the virus from becoming drug resistant, it is essential to follow the antibiotic regimen precisely.
  • As the immune system becomes progressively weakened, antibiotics are given to prevent further infections from occurring.
  • Regular exercise can reduce some side effects of antiviral treatment. Combinations of aerobic exercise and progressive resistive exercise (done for at least 20 minutes at least three times per week) may also lead to significant reductions in depression and improvements in heart and lung function.
  • Psychological treatments can provide benefits for persons with HIV. Some evidence suggests that excessive stress can increase the risk for infections in HIV–positive persons. In women with HIV, higher stress has been shown to increase the odds of developing cervical cancer, compared with women experiencing the least life stress.

 

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