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What is antiretroviral therapy?

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a treatment for people who have been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. ART requires taking a specific "cocktail" of antiretroviral drugs every day exactly as prescribed. ART is not a cure for HIV, however it can:
  • slow down the virus and prevent it from multiplying
  • reduce the amount of HIV in your body so your immune system can fight off infections and diseases better
  • prevent the transmission of HIV to others
The medications used in ART fall into six distinct classes of drugs, based on the different approaches they take to fighting HIV. The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends starting ART with a regimen of three different medications from at least two different drug classes. ART is recommended for everyone who has been diagnosed with HIV, but determining the best combination of drugs and the best time to start ART is something that each affected individual needs to discuss with his or her own doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.