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Rural Health Information Hub

Receiving HIV Medical Care

Over the course of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, effective medications have been developed that prevent or greatly delay the onset of AIDS for HIV-positive people. These combinations of medications are called antiretroviral therapy (ART). Though these medications are not able to eliminate the virus or cure an HIV-positive person, they work by controlling the virus so that there are very low levels of virus in the body. An HIV-positive individual can live a long, healthy life if they can access and adhere to an ART drug regimen.

Since the HIV virus attacks immune system cells called CD4 cells, the number of CD4 cells a person has is an important clinical indicator that can show how well treatment is working. Current clinical recommendation is that all people living with HIV, regardless of the count of their CD4 cells, should start ART as soon as they are diagnosed.

For more information about models for receiving HIV medical care and effective drug treatment in rural communities, see Models to Improve Retention, Adherence, and Self-Management in Module 2.

Resources to Learn More

Consolidated Guidelines on the Use of Antiretroviral Drugs for Treating and Preventing HIV Infection: Recommendations for a Public Health Approach
Offers guidelines on the diagnosis of HIV infection, the use of antiretroviral (ART) drugs in the treatment and prevention of HIV, and the continuum of care for people living with HIV.
Organization(s): World Health Organizations
Date: 2016

HIV Treatment Overview
Describes HIV treatment and why it is important, antiretroviral therapy (ART), the common side effects of ART, and HIV drug resistance.
Organization(s):, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services