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Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART)

Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) are medications used to treat HIV. These medications may also be called antiretroviral drugs (ART), antiretrovirals (ARVs), or anti-HIV drugs. There is currently no cure for HIV, but the availability of HAART means that HIV is manageable 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 or “undetectable”, there is less harm to the body’s immune system and fewer complications of HIV infection. Reducing the viral load to undetectable levels also greatly reduces the chance of passing HIV to partners.

Treatment as prevention (TasP) refers to the use of antiretroviral (ARV) medication to prevent HIV transmission. TasP involves prescribing ARVs to those who are living with HIV in order to reduce the amount of virus in their blood to undetectable levels so that there is effectively no risk of transmission of HIV.

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

In British Columbia, HAART is usually free and is prescribed by doctors with an expertise in HIV.

Resources

Positive Living British Columbia – Support society for persons living with HIV in BC
HIV treatment info - Published by CATIE
Treatment as prevention (TAsP) – Published by CATIE

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HIV, antiretroviral, treatment, ARVs, HAART, ART, undetectable, viral load
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