HIV Treatment

HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy or ART) involves taking medication as prescribed by a health care provider. ART reduces the amount of HIV in your body (viral load) and helps you stay healthy. If your viral load of HIV is undetectable, then you cannot spread HIV to others. When using ART correctly, most people can get the virus under control within six months. All people with HIV should take HIV treatment, no matter how long they've had HIV or how healthy they are.

HIV treatment also helps prevent transmission to others.
  • If you have an undetectable viral load, you will not transmit HIV through sex.
  • Having an undetectable viral load likely reduces the risk of HIV transmission through sharing needles, syringes, or other injection equipment (for example, cookers), but we don't know by how much.
  • Having an undetectable viral load also prevents perinatal transmission. If a person with HIV takes their HIV medicine as prescribed throughout pregnancy and childbirth and gives HIV treatment to their baby for 4 to 6 weeks after birth, the risk of transmission can be 1% or less.
  • Having an undetectable viral load greatly reduces the risk of transmitting HIV through breastfeeding but doesn't eliminate the risk. The current recommendation in the United States is that parents with HIV should not breastfeed their babies.
To learn more about ART, visit: Treatment | Living with HIV | HIV Basics | HIV/AIDS | CDC

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