One of the immediate questions which arise in the mind is whether you can be cured after being diagnosed with AIDS. While no fail safe drug has yet been invented, AIDS is treated by a combination of drug regimen known as highly active anti retroviral therapy or HAART. Recent statistics show that rate of deaths from AIDS is decreasing. In addition, the awareness campaigns are also bearing fruit and AIDS is spreading at a slower rate. Once diagnosis is confirmed, it is necessary to start a treatment regime. In addition to the AIDS medication, it often becomes necessary to consult a mental health professional to cope with the strain of the disease.

AIDS is caused by HIV infection. This infection spreads either through unprotected sexual contact, sharing of the same needle or from mother to her child in the womb. AIDS is the leading cause of death in the world today with nearly 34 million people living with the disease worldwide. So, if and when you are diagnosed with AIDS, it is normal to be frightened. However, you should not let your fear stop you from getting tested for AIDS if you have been exposed to any of the above situations. This is because you may not show the symptoms even years after being infected. So, if you do not get tested, your treatment will be delayed. Moreover, if you have unprotected sex during this time period, you will infect your partner. That is why it is advisable to confirm whether you have AIDS or not.

Φ Preventions, myths and truth about AIDS

Is AIDS curable?

If the diagnosis is confirmed and you turn out to be HIV positive, panicking is not the answer. Here are a few things that you should know:

  • Being infected with HIV does not automatically mean that you have AIDS. It is the last stage of the infection. So, if you have been diagnosed in the early stage, you can still arrest the spread of the disease.
  • At present, there is no cure for AIDS. However, drugs have been invented that can considerably slow down the progress of the disease. A combination of the drugs and therapy can help you lead a long and purposeful life.
  • There are no vaccines for AIDS though research is going on to develop one.
  • Isolated cases have been reported where AIDS seem to have been cured. The most recent instant is that of a baby who was infected in the womb. Doctor claim that with aggressive treatment, the virus has been banished by the end of one month and it shows no signs of coming back. While these are encouraging signs, it is early days yet.

What to do after being diagnosed with AIDS?

You should get tested for HIV as soon as you have been exposed to the dangerous situations described above even if you do not have the symptoms. It is natural to feel frightened and helpless once the diagnosis of AIDS has been confirmed. But you should know that you are not under a death sentence. Here are a few things which you can do to cope:

  • See a specialist for AIDS at once so that your treatment can start as soon as possible. Timely intervention can considerably decrease the rate of progress of the disease.
  • Learn more about the disease, especially what you can and should do not to infect others. Huge materials regarding AIDS are available in a number of books as well as the internet. Read the facts instead of the horror stories.
  • In addition to drug therapy for AIDS, you are going to need a lot of support. Ask your doctor about any local AIDS support group that you can join. If you cannot find such a group near you, you can join the chat rooms and forums about AIDS in the internet.
  • It may be necessary to consult a therapist or psychologist for the mental aspects of coping with AIDS.
  • As soon as you are diagnosed, you should cease all sexual activity. This means, you will have to tell your partner about AIDS quickly. This can be a tough situation for both of you. You need to handle it with empathy and care. Apart from your sexual partner, when it comes to telling others, you need to start with a handful of your closest and most trusted people.
  • If you are a woman who has been diagnosed with AIDS, you should stop trying to conceive and obtain the doctor's advice in this regard. If you are already pregnant, you will need to follow strict medical guidelines to try to save your child from contamination.

Φ Read more about AIDS-symptoms, causes and treatment

Treatment options for AIDS

The most used treatment for AIDS is called HAART (highly active anti retroviral therapy) that actually combines a number of drugs. Together, they create obstacles for the HIV to thrive in the body so that the progress of the disease is arrested to a considerable degree. Before discussing the treatment in detail, it is necessary to know some facts about AIDS treatment.

Number of people receiving ART IN December, 2003 400000
Number of people receiving ART IN December, 2005 1.3 million
Percentage by which treatment access increased between 2009 and 2011 63%
Total global investment in HIV treatment in 2011 $16.8 billion
Estimated annual cost of AIDS treatment by 2015 $22 - $24 billion

Source: unaids.org press release and statement archive 2012

The various treatment options for HIV infection are as follows:

  • You can take PEP (post exposure prophylaxis) within 72 hours of exposure to HIV. This is a month long treatment with serious side effects.
  • HAART starts when CD4 cell count falls below 350.
  • According to your condition, different ARVs (anti retroviral drugs) will be given to you in fixed doses called combination therapy.
  • These drugs include early inhibitors, CCR5 receptor antagonists, NRTI, NNRTI, protease inhibitors, integrase inhibitors and maturation inhibitors. The combination depends on the prognosis of your combination.
  • Pregnant women also receive HAART to reduce the risk of contaminating the child.