There is no cure for HIV. However, antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a very effective treatment to minimize viral load preventing the progression of HIV disease and preventing the transmission of HIV to sexual partners and newborn infants. ART is a life-long daily treatment that must be strictly followed to ensure the viral load remains below detectable levels. If the treatment is discontinued, HIV will continue to replicate increasing the risk of HIV transmission and the disease can progress to AIDS.
Methods are also available to reduce the risk of contracting HIV:
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a daily medication that individuals at high risk of HIV (e.g. partner of an HIV-positive person) can take to minimize their risk of HIV infection. There are currently two FDA-approved PrEP medications that reduce the risk of contracting HIV via sex by up to 90%.
Post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) is an emergency medication that must be started within 72 hours of exposure. PEP is a short course of medication that reduces the risk of infection but should not be used to replace other HIV and STD prevention methods.