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HIV/AIDS

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Getting diagnosed with HIV: Know when to consider treatment

for Veterans and the Public

Know when to consider treatment

Whether or not to start treatment for HIV is a decision that each person must make with his or her providers. HIV medication (known as antiretrovirals) is recommended for all HIV infected people, and more urgently for anyone who has evidence of immune suppression (a CD4+ cell count of less than 350-500) or an AIDS diagnosis (an infection or cancer associated with HIV). Current guidelines recommend starting HIV treatment because HIV is known to affect many parts of the body even early on in infection and some damage caused by HIV can be irreversible.

In general, you and your provider will need to consider:

  • how healthy your immune system is (this is usually measured by your CD4 count)
  • whether or not you have AIDS
  • whether you can stick to a treatment plan
  • what your other medical problems are
  • whether you have sex partners who may be at risk of becoming infected
  • if you are a woman, whether you plan to become pregnant

For details, see Treatment Decisions.