A Lifelong Journey
Bona|January 2017

Taking antiretroviral drugs is not something that you only do until you start feeling better – it is a way of life.

Lungile Khumalo

To people recently diagnosed and living with HIV, ARVs are a lifesaver. They are your hope of not only extending your life, but also living a reasonably good-quality one. HIV attacks the CD4 cells that are responsible for helping the immune system to fight germs and infections. When the virus enters a CD4 cell, the cell becomes a virus factory. In other words, one virus enters, reproduces, and many copies leave the cell. This replication eventually kills the host CD4 cell,leaving behind a damaged, weakened and compromised immune system.

THE IMPORTANCE OF ARVS

“ARVs stop HIV from completing its life cycle, hereby reducing the amount of the virus in the blood to undetectable level,” says Associate Professor Catherine Orrell, from the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre/ Foundation in Cape Town.

Antiretroviral drugs help to control and slow down the damage that the virus causes to the immune system. And, when taken consistently, they can have a beneficial “knock-on effect” on your body and health. They slow down the progress of HIV. This slows down the rate at which the virus destroys the CD4 cells, and this in turn slows down further damage to the system.

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