Us Mob and HIV

I Have HIV

Taking treatments (medicines)

Treatments for HIV are called ‘antiretroviral therapy’.

It cannot get rid of HIV, but it reduces the amount of HIV in your body and keeps your immune system strong. Treatments are easier to take than before. They keep people with HIV healthier, so they live as long as everyone else.

If you have Medicare, you can get HIV treatments from a local chemist at a set cost and is cheaper if you have a concession card. In some states in Australia, these costs are waived, and treatment is free.

If you do not have a Medicare card, there are other options for you to access treatments, so speak to your doctor.

If you are worried about cost, talk to your doctor, Aboriginal Health Worker or the organisations listed in the support directory.

Some people need to take a few different treatments, but many people take just one pill each day. Your doctor will talk to you about which treatment might be best for you.

It is important to take your treatment the way the doctor tells you or it may not work! This means remembering to take it every day and at the same time every day.

When to start treatment

The earlier someone starts treatment after they are diagnosed, the better this will be for their health. It stops HIV from doing more damage. It is often recommended to start treatment straight after being diagnosed.

Once you start treatment, you will need to take them for the rest of your life. Talk to your doctor about when you are ready to start.

There are a few things to think about.

HIV treatment:

  • reduces the amount of HIV in your body. This will make you feel better and prevent you from getting sick.
  • can reduce the amount of HIV in your body to an undetectable level. That means you cannot pass HIV on to someone else.
  • does not cause side effects (feeling sick) for most people. Some people still get side effects, but they are usually not so bad and do not last for long.
  • is something you take for the rest of your life. Once you start treatment, you should keep taking it. If you miss a tablet or two a week HIV can become ‘resistant’ to treatment – meaning the HIV treatments will not work properly. You will need to change to another treatment.
  • Your doctor or health worker should have some suggestions about how to take your treatment every day.
  • Talk with your doctor. Do not be afraid to ask questions. It is recommended for people with HIV to start treatment as soon as possible after they find out they have HIV to make sure they stay healthy.


Check out this video for more information on Treatment as Prevention.


HIV positive women who are pregnant should start treatment early.

This will help keep the baby safe from HIV. If you have HIV and are planning to get pregnant, see your doctor. There are a number of things you can do to protect your baby from HIV, including taking treatments. Pregnant women who take HIV treatment regularly almost always have babies that do not have HIV. Your actions will make a big difference to whether or not your baby has HIV.

If you find out you are pregnant, see your doctor as soon as you can!

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