The era of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) changed the prognosis for many people infected with HIV, and over time the therapeutic focus has shifted from treating progressive HIV infection, declining immune function, and palliative AIDS care to managing a chronic condition.1,2

In addition to sustaining viral suppression through antiretroviral therapy (ART), the focus of care in the current treatment paradigm includes addressing strategies that promote healthy living in order to reduce risk factors, and managing chronic comorbidities.1

Lifestyle changes and action plans can help empower patients.3 Patients should be encouraged to modify risk factors for chronic diseases because, although ART can improve CD4 cell recovery and may also decrease inflammation through viral suppression, patients on treatment may nonetheless experience low CD4 cell counts and persistent immune activation, which contribute to comorbidity risk.1


Address strategies to modify
health risk factors, including:

  • Smoking cessation
  • Healthy diet
  • Exercise

Manage chronic
comorbidities, including:

  • Hypertension
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Diabetes

Patients who have come to terms with their HIV diagnosis can become active participants in their own care through self-management and adopting new health behaviors.3

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. Guidelines for the use of antiretroviral agents in adults and adolescents living with HIV. Available at Accessed November 16, 2017.
  2. Desai M, Iyer G, Dikshit RK. Antiretroviral drugs: critical issues and recent advances. Indian J Pharmacol. 2012;44(3):288-298.
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Health Resources and Services Administration. Guide for HIV/AIDS Clinical Care—2014 Edition. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2014.