Starting HIV treatment

The advice is to start medication immediately after the HIV diagnosis. Starting medication soon after the diagnosis has long-term health benefits. The virus then has less chance of spreading and hiding away in various places in the body. This reduces the risk of complications and physical symptoms.

In brief:

  • The advice is to start HIV medication immediately after the HIV diagnosis
  • Your first consultation takes some getting used to, but follow-up consultations become routine

Starting treatment

You get medical supervision for HIV in an HIV treatment centre. This is in a hospital with a department specialised in the treatment of HIV. In the initial period you will have a consultation several times a year, but after that it will usually be twice a year. For many people it is stressful to go to the hospital, and hear the results of the blood tests. This gets less stressful after a while. Once you have started taking HIV medication, the side-effects turn out to be less than you expected and the medication suppresses the virus well, it will start to feel routine.

Your first consultation

When you go for your first HIV consultation, it's all a bit stressful and unfamiliar to you: the hospital, waiting your turn, the assistants, measurement of your heart rate and your weight, the talk with the specialised HIV doctor, the results of your blood tests, the medication prescribed and its use, the possible side effects... There is so much going on!


But by the second time you will have calmed down a bit and the consultations become more and more routine. Usually there is a consultation every three to six months, sometimes more often, and later on maybe only once a year. You get to know the people, the specialised HIV doctor and the HIV nurse, you know the procedures, you know what to expect. After the consultation with the doctor and/or nurse, you go to the pharmacy and pick up your pills. After a while, if you take them on time and consistently, the amount of virus in your blood (the viral load) will no longer be measurable. That is a good sign. Actually, you don't notice your HIV much anymore, except for the HIV medication you take every day and the consultation every so often.

This information is useful

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