Being diagnosed with HIV means that you were exposed to the HIV virus and that you’re living with it in your body, according to the CDC. The human body can’t completely get rid of the HIV virus like it can with some other viruses. While treatment is available and important, once you’re diagnosed with HIV, you have it for life.
Like we just mentioned, it’s very important that anyone diagnosed with HIV starts medical care as soon as possible. The medicine used to treat HIV is called antiretroviral therapy, or ART for short. Taking medicine as prescribed can lower your viral load. When the load is very low, it’s called viral suppression, which means that you have less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood. Proper medication can also make your viral load so low that a test can no longer detect it. When this happens it’s called undetectable viral load. Achieving and maintaining an undetectable viral load is one of the top things you can do to stay as healthy as possible. In fact, if you consistently maintain an undetectable viral load, the risk of transmitting HIV to a partner becomes almost non-existent.
Now, what happens if someone diagnosed with HIV doesn’t get medical care? Without treatment, HIV will attack the immune system and they will then develop AIDS. When this happens, it allows for different types of life-threatening infections and cancers to develop, which can lead to death. A cure for HIV still does not exist, but proper medical care and treatment with medicine can keep people living with HIV healthy for many, many years and help reduce their risk of transmitting the virus to other people.