What is HIV drug resistance
What we know today about the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is quite different from when it was first discovered. While improvements in HIV medicine has given infected people great results, some people are finding it hard to find HIV medicine that works best for their health needs. Let’s talk about HIV drug resistance and how you can manage it.
HIV drug resistance
Once a person is infected with HIV. The virus will increase itself my making a million identical copies, but sometimes, the virus will change form (mutate) as it makes copies. HIV can even mutate while you’re taking medication - which is actually designed to stop the virus from making more copies and reducing the risk of transmission.
When the virus mutates while you’re on HIV medication, it becomes stronger than the effects of the medication - making it drug resistant. In other words, the HIV medication that previously controlled your HIV strain, will no longer work.
Drug resistance transmission
The HIV drug resistant strain cells will multiply themselves, spreading throughout the blood, increasing the risk of transmission. This means that drug resistant HIV can be passed on to others. Some people who are initially infected with the mutated HIV strain can have a drug resistance to one or more HIV medication even before taking medication - making it really hard to treat them.
Drug resistant testing
Fortunately, you can go to your nearest health clinic and test for HIV drug resistance. Drug-resistance testing is basically done to identify which HIV medicine isn’t effective against the drug resistant strain.
Based on your results, your health care provider can prescribe HIV medication that your drug resistant HIV will respond to, but retesting may be necessary if your viral load shows that your HIV treatment isn’t controlling the HIV drug resistant strain.
Doctors also encourage pregnant women with HIV who are on medication and those who aren’t, to test for HIV drug resistance.
How to reduce the risk of drug resistance
Once you’ve decided to start your HIV treatment, be open and tell your health care provider about all your concerns and needs, so that they can choose an HIV treatment type that will suit your health needs.
Make sure that you take your medication every day as prescribed by your health care provider.
Lastly, make sure you attend all your clinic appointments so you and your health care provider can closely monitor your HIV treatment, and ask questions if you have any.
HIV drug resistant strains can make living with HIV quite frustrating. So, if you notice that your health isn’t improving even though you are on HIV medication, go to your nearest health clinic to test for HIV drug resistance.
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