If you have HIV, you should start ART (antiretroviral therapy) as soon as possible. ART is the treatment for the people living with HIV and is so successful at controlling the virus that it reduces the amount of the HIV in your blood to UNDETECTABLE levels, making you completely harmless to your sexual partners.
It is important to start ART as soon as you can, because it protects your immune system from permanent and irreversible damage. The newest ART combinations are accompanied by little or no side effects. ART is taken every day without exception. There are also ART combinations that can be taken without food. A person who adheres strictly to the antiretroviral therapy while leading a healthy lifestyle can expect to live as long as a person with an HIV-negative status.
You have the right to receive free antiretroviral therapy in one of the following 5 departments in Bulgaria. You will be offered treatment regardless of your health insurance status. Bulgaria follows the European AIDS Clinical Society recommendations, which means that you should start with one of the ART combinations in the infographic:
For clarifications on the antiretroviral therapy (ART), please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Before you start taking ART, the following tests must be performed:
- Genotypic resistance test
- Viral load test (the HIV amount in a millilitre of blood)
- CD4 cell count (the cells that HIV attacks)
- Abacavir, HLA-B * 5701 Sensitivity Test (only if the doctor plans to prescribe ART containing Abacavir)
Keep in mind that as a patient, you are entitled to an informed choice of ART. If your doctor is planning to prescribe an ART combination that does not appear in the infographic, you should share your concerns with them and clearly and politely ask for one of the combinations on the picture.
REMEMBER: ART needs to be taken every day and for life, so it is extremely important to start with one of the recommended combinations from the list above!