HIV treatment : Swiss AIDS Federation

HIV treatment

HIV treatment promotes health and supports quality of life, which is why it is important to start the treatment promptly and not wait too long. Effective treatment also prevents the transmission of HIV to sexual partners.

Next to a glass of water are three tablets.

There are over twenty drugs currently available for the treatment of HIV infection. Only a combination of different HIV drugs is effective enough because the virus can quickly develop resistance. This is known as “HIV combination therapy”. This combination therapy is a life-long treatment.

Advantages of the treatment:

  • Your state of health, your quality of life and your life expectancy will markedly increase.
  • With effective treatment, you will no longer transmit the virus during unprotected sexual intercourse, i.e. you are no longer infectious.
  • You can bear children and give birth entirely naturally

Although the HIV drugs that are now available can effectively stop the virus replicating in the cells of the immune system, they cannot rid the body of HIV entirely.

HIV therapy side effects

Like all medicines, HIV drugs can also have side effects, for example nausea, diarrhoea or sleep disturbances. In most cases the side effects appear during the first week after the start of treatment and they disappear relatively quickly. Sometimes a medication has to be replaced by another drug that is better tolerated. Talk to your doctor if you are suffering from side effects.

Alternative medicine

Alternative (or complementary) medicine cannot prevent the reproduction of HIV but it can sometimes improve the quality of life and relieve the side effects of HIV therapy. Caution: there are occasionally adverse interactions between natural remedies (e.g. St. John’s wort) and HIV drugs. Always talk to your doctor before taking alternative medicine preparations.


Interactions are relatively common between medicines used for HIV therapy and other remedies, herbal extracts or drugs. The result may be that both the HIV medication and the other active substance stop working properly. It is therefore advisable to tell your doctor about all the substances you are taking, including illegal drugs and herbal extracts.

Treatment compliance

To guarantee that HIV therapy is effective, a high level of treatment compliance is required: this is the key to therapeutic success. HIV medication must be taken consistently throughout life and in accordance with the doctor’s prescription. A lack of treatment compliance will greatly impair the efficacy of medication and encourages the development of HIV resistance to the medicines being used.

Circumstances sometimes arise that make it more difficult to take medication properly over a prolonged period of time.
If you have difficulty taking your therapy reliably, discuss this subject with your doctor: he or she can give you helpful tips or, if need be, change the treatment so that it is easier to incorporate it into your everyday life.

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