Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a lifelong disease for which there is no cure. However, with medication, HIV-positive individuals can manage their illness and extend their life expectancy to that of a standard lifespan. HIV is a life-threatening condition spread through bodily fluids that weakens a patient's immune system by destroying cells that fight disease and infection. It is transmitted via sexual intercourse, shared needles with an infected person, and during an infected mother's birth process or breastfeeding. It is important to get tested for HIV as soon as possible in order to receive effective treatment. If the virus is not controlled, one may get infections that a person with a healthy immune system is able to prevent. Modern advances now make it possible for a test to come back positive as early as one month. If a test comes back positive, the person will be referred to a medical provider that will order an HIV viral load to see if there is virus reproducing in the blood.
What happens if I become HIV positive?
If a person receives an HIV diagnosis, the provider will test for CD4+ or T-cells, which determine the strength of the immune system. Most HIV-negative individuals have a CD4+ of 800-1200. As the amount of virus reproduces at a faster rate, the quicker the CD4+ declines. Once a person gets to less than 200 T-cells, they are considered as having AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Virus) and may require antibiotic treatment to avoid infections such as pneumonia. In the past, people have had concerns about when to start therapy, mostly because of side effects, the amount of pills they would need to take, and the stigma of the disease. Advances in treatment now make is possible to take as little as one pill per day with much less side effects.
At New London Specialty Pharmacy, we provide an array of compliance and adherence programs which effectively promote a team environment between the pharmacists and the patient’s provider. We encourage patient compliance through educational materials, refill assessments, and counseling. Our pharmacists continuously strive to establish an integrated approach to the HIV patient that balances symptom management with adequate medication use.
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