Cocktail Therapy

“Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART)” was introduced by the Chinese American scientist Dr. David Da-i Ho in 1995. Its implementation in Hong Kong began in 1996 and since then, the death rate of people living with HIV has dropped significantly and their lives are just like those without HIV. This is due to the cocktail therapy and because of it, HIV infection is considered as a manageable chronic disease nowadays.

‘Cocktail therapy’ refers to the use of a combination of drugs to prevent the virus from replicating. In Hong Kong, there are currently about 20 different types of drugs.

‘Cocktail therapy’ prevents the virus from attacking the immune system and by following the doctor’s instructions, most people living with HIV can suppress the viral load within three to six months, and reduce the virus to an undetectable level.

Once HIV enters the body, the immune system will be attacked. When the body’s immunity drops to a certain level, the people living with HIV will be more vulnerable to bacteria and viruses, causing ‘opportunistic infections’.

Side Effects

Antiretroviral therapy used to cause many side effects, but with today’s medical advancements the medication causes minimal to no side effects.

Temporary side effects

When starting medication you may experience some side effects for the first few weeks. When the body gets used to the drug, the side effects will subside. If you feel unwell or the side effects persist or become more severe, please contact your doctor immediately so they can adjust your medication accordingly.

Possible chronic side effects

Long-term medication might cause chronic side effects. Through the use of regular check ups, if there are complications with your medication then the doctor will discuss your treatment plan and change your medication as needed.

Medical Adherence

Antiretroviral therapy requires good medical adherence. During the course of therapy, taking medication on time every day is particularly important. Missing or delaying the medicine might reduce its concentration in the blood which means it is unable to suppress the virus, opening up the possibility of the virus multiplying, which may cause drug resistance and failure.
Taking medication regularly
By taking your medication regularly the concentration of medicine in the blood will be high enough to suppress the virus. This will prevent the virus from multiplying and mutating.

Source:The Centre for Health Protection is a professional arm of the Department of Health for disease prevention and control
Omitting the medication
When there is omission of medication, the concentration of medicine in the blood might be lower than the level which can suppress the virus, causing the virus to multiply and the opportunity of mutation and drug resistance. When the virus becomes resistant to the current medication, the medication will not effectively suppress the virus and another medication may be needed.

If you have any questions or need any assistance, please contact us.