Northside Clinic has been involved in HIV management since the beginning of the epidemic and many of the doctors at Northside Clinic have the experience and qualifications to treat people living with HIV and to prescribe the appropriate medications. We maintain close links with all the other HIV services in Melbourne and, when necessary, we can help patients in cooperation with appropriate hospital specialists.
Current Australian HIV treatment guidelines recommend commencement of Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) in all HIV positive people, regardless of CD4 count, at or as close as possible to the time of diagnosis with HIV. The basis for this is to improve the person’s health, prolong their life, and reduce the risk if transmitting HIV to others.
All decisions to start ART should be made by the individual with HIV, in consultation with their Doctor. There are many factors to consider such as:
Currently, once you start ART, treatment is life-long.
At the moment there is strong evidence to show that taking ART if you are HIV positive can prevent transmission to other HIV negative people. This is known as Treatment as Prevention (TasP). Studies have shown that if you are on ART and have undetectable viral load, there is very little risk of transmission to a negative partner, even if you have condomless sex. However, a very low rate of transmission cannot be totally ruled out.
Currently the only way to prevent HIV is to practice safe sex by using condoms and/or taking PrEP, and not sharing injecting drug equipment. It is also a good idea to get regular STI testing.
There is currently no preventable vaccine against HIV.