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Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART)

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) are medications used to treat HIV infection. These medications may also be called antiretroviral drugs (ART) or anti-HIV drugs. While there is currently no cure for HIV infection, the availability of HAART now means that HIV is no longer a fatal infection, but is a condition that can be managed through lifelong treatment.

HAART prevents the HIV virus from making copies of itself and limits how much virus is in the body. The level of virus in the blood is called ‘viral load’. When the viral load is low, there is less harm to the body’s immune system and fewer complications of HIV infection. Reducing the viral load to "undetectable" levels also reduces the chance of passing HIV to partners. 

There are different kinds of HAART available for treatment. Today HAART is easy to take and the number of pills needed are less than in the past.

In BC, HAART is free and is prescribed by doctors with an expertise in HIV. The doctor will decide what medications are best, and will arrange for the regular blood work that is needed to safely use HAART. 


Positive Living British Columbia – Support society for persons living with HIV in BC
A Practical Guide to HIV Drug Treatment for People Living with HIV – Published by CATIE
A Practical Guide to HIV Drug Side Effects - Published by CATIE

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