With treatment, HIV is a manageable, long-term condition that allows people to live active, healthy lives. Stories of those who’ve lived with HIV for 25 or 30 years are becoming increasingly common. Read Ann’s story here.
The medications used to treat HIV are called anti-retrovirals. They are usually in the form of three drugs, each requiring the patient to take one to two daily tablets. They stop the virus from replicating and also dramatically lower the risk of someone passing the virus on to other people (up to a 96% reduction in risk, according to one study). However, these anti-retrovirals must be taken when prescribed, as even missing a few doses per month means that treatment won’t work as well as it should.
While there are side effects, as there are with any medication, in the majority of cases, the more severe impacts once associated with HIV medications are no longer a problem thanks to medical advances. Most other side effects, such as headaches and nausea, often subside over time. Nevertheless, patients must work closely with their doctors to find the right combination of medications for them, as everyone responds slightly differently to the treatments.
In Scotland all anti-retroviral treatment is covered by the NHS.