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When to start treatment in an HIV-positive person?

Q: Could you guide us about the nutrition/diet to be taken to build up the immune system in case of an HIV-positive patient. What is the recommended time to start treatment of AIDS as in some cases the symptoms are not apparent even after 10 yrs of acquiring the infection. Even in the worst case, how much is the increase in life expectancy after starting treatment? Also, is it possible for the person to work for his living with the treatment without any indication of his physical disorder? Lastly, can you give the address of instititutions in India where one can get medical treatment?

A:First of all you must be sure that the person is actually HIV-positive. If testing was done at a reliable place, and more than one test came positive, you can be sure that the person is infected. However if only one test came positive, then please get the test repeated, and if it is negative, the person is NOT infected. Eating a balanced diet and living a regular life with some excercise is important to maintain good health and a strong immune system. Plenty of vegetables and some vegetable or animal protein makes for a well balanced diet. Every opportunistic infection must be treated as soon as possible. However starting specific anti-retroviral treatment depends on many factors. Generally it is now recommended that treatment is started when the CD4 count comes down to 200 or less. If a person is on a suitable anti-retroviral treatment using an appropriate mixture of drugs, the disease will generally not progress significantly, in other words life can be prolonged for many years with a good quality of life. There is no reason why an HIV-positive person should not continue to work and make a living as long as he is physically able to do so. In fact it is important for them to work and live as normal a life as possible. India is a large country and there are many, many places where tratment is prescribed. Government hospitals, private hospitals and practising doctors treat HIV infection. Please be very careful about those people who promise a cure and demand money in advance.

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