People Living with HIV

People Living with HIV

The Basics

There is no cure for HIV, but treatment can help people stay healthy for many years. In fact, it is estimated that with early diagnosis and proper care and treatment, many people living with HIV can expect to live a normal lifespan.

The current standard in HIV treatment is a combination of different classes of medications that work together to stop HIV’s ability to replicate and damage the immune system. Some common terms for HIV treatment include ARVs (antiretrovirals), ART (antiretroviral therapy), HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) or CAART (combination antiretroviral therapy).

HIV treatment works by controlling the amount of virus in the body so the immune system can stay healthy. In addition to medications, many people living with HIV find their overall health is improved or maintained by making other healthy lifestyle choices including good nutrition, exercise, reducing or eliminating drug and alcohol use, and managing stress. For more information on HIV treatment and healthy lifestyle choices for People Living with HIV, visit CATIE: Canada’s source for HIV treatment information.

Where to Get HIV Medication

In Southern Alberta, treatment (medications) and other medical services for people living with HIV are available through the Southern Alberta Clinic. HIV treatment is free for people with provincial health insurance (Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan). Southern Alberta Clinic offers:

Intake appointment — with a nurse and social worker to provide introduction to the clinic and education about HIV

First medical visit — a complete medical history is taken, test results are reviewed, and a management plan is made

Follow-up appointments — usually about 1 month after the first visit and then every 3 to 6 months afterwards.

Nursing services — coordinates care within the clinic and with other agencies, provides HIV education

Pharmacy – provides medication counselling and dispenses HIV medications

You can be referred by a doctor or can self-refer if you are new to Alberta. Contact the Southern Alberta Clinic by phone at (403) 955-6399 or find more information online here.

Hep C Treatment

HCV can be effectively *cured*

  • Non-infectious
  • Prevents liver damage
  • Improves health outcomes and quality of life

Cured = sustained virological response (SVR)

Factors that affect treatment:

  • Genotype and previous treatment experience
  • Extent of liver damage
  • Co-infections (HIV or HBV)
  • Cost & Coverage
  • Potential for adherence concerns

*You can be re-infected after successful treatment

STI Treatment

Can be easily treated with antibiotics

Testing and treatment of sexual partner(s) will help prevent ongoing source of infection

Abstinence from unprotected sexual intercourse for at least a week until antibiotics are done

At SafeLink Alberta, we offer a wide range of programs and services, as well as referrals to other service providers. For more information on our support services for People Living with HIV, click here.