Starting Treatment

There are very effective treatments for HIV. HIV treatments, sometimes called antiretroviral treatments or ARVs, are recommended for all people living with HIV.

The goal of HIV treatments is to control the HIV virus. When the HIV virus is controlled, the immune system is protected from being damaged by the HIV virus. When the HIV virus is completely controlled, the amount of virus in the body (called viral load) is called undetectable. If you have an undetectable viral load you cannot pass HIV onto your sexual partners.

You can start treatment as soon as you find out that you have HIV.

We know that starting treatment early reduces the effects of HIV on the body, improves health and improves life expectancy for all people with HIV. Starting treatment early gives you a head start in managing your health.

Earlier HIV treatments involved many pills with many side-effects, but nowadays treatments can include single pills or long-acting injectables and have only have minor side effects. Some HIV treatments can interact with other medications you are taking, and your HIV doctor will work with you to find the right combination. If you are experiencing side-effects, you can work with your doctor to change to different medications that work better for you.

When you start treatment is your choice, and it is important to know that once you start treatment you need to continue taking it throughout your life. If you miss doses, or if you stop taking the medication, it can weaken your immune system and also cause drug resistance, which means that the medication will no longer work for you in future.

Most of the team at Living Positive Victoria are living with HIV and have experience with taking HIV treatments. They can talk to you about their experiences as well as give you some general guidance. Naturally, this does not replace your doctor’s advice. Rather, we can share our personal experiences and insights about living with and managing HIV.  You can contact us at

There are also workshops and groups that you can join where you can hear other people with HIV talk about their general experiences of living with HIV. Check out the events page on this website to see what’s coming up.

Further reading

The National Association of People With HIV Australia (NAPWHA) also has some great information HIV treatments and managing HIV at  Treatment and Health

Supporting you to take control of your health, happiness, and connectedness with an easy-to-use health and wellbeing app for people with HIV at  mylifeplus


Living Positive Victoria acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land where we work and live. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We celebrate the stories, culture and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders of all communities who also work and live on this land.