“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’.