initial treatment of disease

A person is considered “treatment naïve” if they have never received treatment for a particular condition. In the field of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), the term is most often used to refer to people who are HIV-positive and have never received any antiretroviral therapy.

People who have already taken one or more forms of HIV medicine are considered “treatment-experienced.”

Untreated patients and antiretroviral therapy

In general, treatment-naïve patients have more antiretroviral treatment options than treatment-experienced patients. This is because doctors have little concern that they may develop resistance to one or more drugs or a class of drugs.

However, while most untreated people have many treatment options, this is not the case for everyone. Sometimes people become infected with HIV strains that have become resistant to one or more antiviral treatments.

It’s unclear whether untreated is necessary, or if people who have been treated are also likely to switch to the new drug regimen.

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When is it better not to receive treatment?

Although drugs are often more effective in treatment-naïve patients, that doesn’t mean you have to delay treatment until better options become available, especially when talking about HIV treatment. A growing body of research shows the importance of early HIV treatment, especially when trying to reduce the long-term consequences of infection.

In the early days of the AIDS epidemic, people were encouraged to wait to start treatment. Now, however, this reason for encouragement is no longer valid. Side effects of antiretroviral drugs have been greatly reduced, and simplified treatment regimens make it easier for patients to maintain drug compliance. Therefore, treatment is started earlier in the infection process, at least for patients who can afford it.

Another reason early treatment is becoming more common is that doctors now understand that they can use treatment as prevention. Reducing the viral load of an infected individual with appropriate treatment is a great way to reduce their likelihood of passing the infection on to others. The likelihood of transmitting HIV is closely related to the amount of virus in a person’s blood.