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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 (know as antiretrovirals) are recommended for all HIV infected people who have evidence of immune suppression (a CD4+ cell count of less than 350-500) or have an AIDS diagnosis (an infection or cancer associated with HIV). Many providers and guidelines recommend starting HIV medications earlier and at higher CD4 cell counts 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.

For details, see Treatment Decisions.