My medicine, my health

Anyone who lives with HIV usually takes medicine every day. No medication is nice to take, but it is important for staying well and keeping healthy. Some people take a single pill once a day, whereas others may need to take more than one pill, more than once a day. This is to do with how the medicine works in the body, and any side effects or other health issues that the person may be experiencing. 

We’ve been working with young people to produce a new booklet all about HIV medicine and what to expect, including an A-Z list of current HIV medicines (antiretrovirals) for young people in the UK, as well as a series of information sheets exploring specific subjects. Read them here:

Medicine booklet

Information sheets

Funded by ViiV Healthcare

With support from NAM aidsmap

How HIV medicine works

HIV lives within the fluids in the body. Everyone’s body has an immune system (this is what fights off illnesses and protects you from infections). The HIV virus attacks the immune system cells, making copies of itself, which kill off more immune system cells, and so, after a while, your immune system cannot fight off colds and other illnesses as easily anymore. 

The medicines, called antiretroviral therapy (ART), stop the HIV from attacking the immune system. The medicines can’t get rid of the HIV virus completely, but when taken correctly, they do prevent it from having any impact on the body and its functions.

For tips to help you manage taking your medicine from other young people click here.

In this video, specialist nurse Susanna Keiderling talks through some HIV Medication FAQs.

The medication works by keeping the HIV locked up so it can’t make copies of itself. It also helps the body’s immune system to fight off infections. There are different types of medication that work together to control HIV in the body. This is why people in your family who have HIV may take more than one type of medicine.

There currently isn’t any medication that can cure HIV. Scientists are working on a cure, but they haven’t found one yet.

In the video below, one of the young people we work with talks about their experiences with HIV medication.