HIV / AIDS (continued)
- Testing: A blood test can tell you if you have HIV. Anyone who is sexually active and unsure of the sexual history or HIV status of their partner(s) should be tested every year.
- Treatment: So far, there is no cure for AIDS, but some drug regimens that combine medications such as AZT (Retrovir) with ritonavir or norvir are proving effective at strengthening immunity and keeping infections at bay, thereby prolonging the lives of many AIDS sufferers. Combination drug therapy has benefited many people for years, but it is still unclear how long the drugs will remain effective, especially since effectiveness varies significantly from person to person.
The drugs must also be taken in large quantities, usually on a daily basis, and there are many side effects. When drug treatment is stopped, new symptoms can arise, or old ones return. If you're pregnant and HIV-positive, taking AZT throughout the pregnancy and during delivery can reduce the chances that the virus will be transmitted to the baby.
- If you are not treated: HIV progresses more rapidly into full-blown AIDS without treatment, usually because of infections that develop as a result of the patient's weakened immune system.