- HIV is the virus that causes HIV infection. AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV infection.
- HIV is spread through contact with the blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, or breast milk of a person with HIV. In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by having anal or vaginal sex or sharing injection drug equipment, such as needles, with a person who has HIV.
- Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the use of HIV medicines to treat HIV infection. People on ART take a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV regimen) every day.
- ART is recommended for everyone who has HIV. ART can’t cure HIV infection, but HIV medicines help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. HIV medicines can also reduce the risk of HIV transmission.
- Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the use of HIV medicines to treat HIV infection. People on ART take a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV treatment regimen) every day.
- ART is recommended for everyone who has HIV. People with HIV should start ART as soon as possible. ART can’t cure HIV, but HIV medicines help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. ART also reduces the risk of HIV transmission.
- The main goal of ART is to reduce a person’s viral load to an undetectable level. An undetectable viral load means that the level of HIV in the blood is too low to be detected by a viral load test. People with HIV who maintain an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partner through sex.
- Before starting ART, people with HIV should talk to their health care provider about possible side effects of HIV medicines and potential drug interactions between HIV medicines or between HIV medicines and other medicines a person is taking.
- Overall, the benefits of HIV medicines far outweigh the risk of side effects. In addition, newer HIV regimens cause fewer side effects than regimens used in the past.
If you’re looking for general information about HIV/AIDS, including treatment options and support, the following links may be helpful.