If you have just tested positive for HIV, or if you are already receiving treatment for the virus, there are tools, people, and support that can help you live a long, healthy lifestyle. Understanding the virus and how it affects your body are important to taking the first step in living positively.
What Is HIV?
HIV, or human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that attacks your immune system. Your immune system is what defends your body against diseases and helps keep you from getting sick. When HIV enters your bloodstream, if affects the white blood cells that help fight infections. The virus uses these cells to make copies of itself to further infect your body. Over time, and without proper treatment, HIV can attack so many white blood cells (also known as CD4+T cells) that your immune system no longer fights off infections and disease. At this stage, if a blood test tells you that your CD4 count is less than 200, your body will have developed AIDS. But, taking your medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor can reduce the amount of HIV found in your body – even to a point where it is no longer detectable!
Medical Treatment for HIV
Living with an undetectable amount of the virus in your body is an achievable goal for individuals infected with HIV. If you are HIV positive, it is important to know that your doctor can help you with a treatment plan. Your doctor will recommend the medicine that’s best for you and explain when and how to take it to get the best results. Your healthcare team, which may include your primary care doctor, a dentist, and a case manager will help you track your progress. Blood tests at your checkups, every 3 to 6 months, will help you know if your treatment is working. The amount of HIV in your blood is measured by a viral load test. The amount of white blood cells / CD4 cells in your body will also be measured. The CD4 count test results will show if your medicine is helping and your immune system is stronger.
Receive Support from PASO
If medicine costs are too much for you, or if you don’t have health insurance, you have access to financial resources to help! Panhandle AIDS Support Organization (PASO) is an organization who helps people living with HIV to connect with the support for their medical, nutritional, housing, and emotional needs. If we can help you or someone you know who is HIV positive, give us a call at 806.372.1050 or 1.800.388.4879