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Chronic Manageable Disease

HIV medications and treatments have significantly changed the course of HIV infection With daily medication, regular laboratory monitoring, and lifestyle changes, HIV can be manageable as a chronic disease Proper medical treatment, monitoring, and prevention practices can reduce the risk of spreading the infection
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Is HIV manageable?

HIV medications and treatments have significantly changed the course of HIV infection since the early days of the epidemic. With daily medication, regular laboratory monitoring, and lifestyle changes (e.g., exercise, adequate sleep, smoking cessation), HIV can be manageable as a chronic disease. People living with HIV can enjoy healthy lives.

However there are some significant differences between HIV and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or hypertension (high blood pressure):

  • HIV is an infectious disease. Unlike many other chronic illnesses, you can spread HIV to your sexual partners, your unborn fetus (if you are an HIV-positive woman), and others. But proper medical treatment, monitoring, and prevention practices can significantly reduce the risk of infection.
  • HIV remains a highly stigmatized disease. Stigma can place burdens and create barriers to people seeking treatment or counseling for HIV disease. These barriers can affect treatment, medication adherence, and disclosure.
  • HIV medications (antiretrovirals) can have significant side effects—more so than common antihypertensives, asthma medications, or diabetes medications. For more information, see NIH’s Treatment of HIV Infection.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is HIV as easy to manage as diabetes?

It depends on how you define “easy to manage.” Both conditions require lifestyle changes and regular monitoring for successful treatment. The difficulty of managing either diabetes or HIV will depend on the overall health of the person living with the condition, the severity of the disease itself, adherence to treatment, and many other factors. Your healthcare provider can give you more information.

Additional Resources

Last revised: 12/22/2009