Have more questions about HIV?

Is there a cure for HIV?

No, but doctors have created powerful medicines that can save your life if you are HIV-positive called antiretrovirals (ARVs) or antiretroviral therapy (ART). They do not kill the virus but stop the HIV from making more and more HIV in your body.

How do ARVs work?

Every time you take your ARVs, you top up the amount of ARV there is in your blood. When you keep your ARV level in your blood high, this pushes the HIV in your body down and stops HIV from attacking and killing your CD4 (soldier) cells. Your CD4 cells need to be able to fight other illnesses and infections so you stay healthy. The ARVs make your CD4 cells stronger, so it's important to take your ARVs every day. Every time you miss or forget to take your ARVs, the HIV level in your body increases.

What are CD4s?

CD4s are soldier cells that protect your body from infections. Doctors and nurses will count how many CD4 cells you have to see how strong your body is to fight the HIV.

Can still I pass HIV to someone if I am taking ARVs?

Yes you can. If you take your ARVs everyday there will be less HIV in your body, but it is still there.

Can still I have children one day?

Yes you can if you are healthy enough and take your ARVs every day. But when you decide to have children, it is important to talk to a doctor or nurse about this first. They will tell you how to do it safely.

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Anonymous 27 February 2018 08:55

HIV vaccine why do HIV positive people use it they already have a virus don't you think it can destroy it???

B-Wise Expert Expert 28 February 2018 11:20

Hi there Anonymous. At the moment there is no vaccine that everyone can use for HIV prevention. There are tests that are being done for a vaccine to prevent HIV. If these tests work, it will be possible for the vaccine to be given to people that are HIV negative to protect them from getting the virus. It will still be some time before we know if the vaccine works for everyone. But anyone who is HIV positive can take anti-retroviral medication (ARVs), which can help to keep the virus under control.

Anonymous 9 February 2018 13:26

I recently started treatment for two weeks now and my partner has been on treatment for about a month now we were using a condom until we stopped twice now using it i wanna know about the reinfection in detail and if my pills will stop working on my body

Thank you for your question. We have sent it to an expert and will get back to you within 48 hours with a response.
Anonymous 8 February 2018 07:02

i sleped with H.I.V woman 1 years ago and never got tested and i never got sick...am i still sick?

B-Wise Expert Expert 9 February 2018 09:16

Hi anonymous, we can understand if you are feeling worried, as there is a chance you could be HIV-infected. However, the best answer is to take matters into your own hands and go for an HIV test. Then you can stop wondering, and you will know.

Remember you need not get sick if you have HIV. In fact many people around you are possibly taking ARVs and living happy, healthy lives without anyone knowing they are HIV-infected. Once you have been diagnosed, you can start treatment immediately and go on with your life. Unfortunately, if you don’t get tested and you are HIV-infected, then you could become sick in the future.

So we would suggest you go to your local clinic and request HIV testing. If you have a current sexual partner then you could consider taking them with for a test. You can locate your nearest clinic here.

Anonymous 8 February 2018 06:55

i have partner tht past away 5yrs ago because of H.I.V and now 2yrs back i had two womans sleeping with them no condom...they s

Anonymous 18 January 2018 13:36

Can i still have hiv if my partner has been taking arvs for more than 4 years,and he take them everyday..

B-Wise Expert Expert 19 January 2018 15:52

The PARTNERS study showed us that if one’s partner is HIV infected but their viral load is low because they're on antiretrovirals, then chances of you getting HIV are zero. However, this being said, taking your ARVs every day does not ensure you will have a suppressed viral load.

There are a couple of situations in which you could have gotten HIV:

1)      If they were not taking the treatment correctly before, they may have developed resistance which would mean their ARVs are not working and their virus was not suppressed.

For this reason, it is always recommended to use a condom each time you have sex to protect yourself.

Anonymous 25 November 2017 20:12

What does it mean when they say that your viral load is below detectable

B-Wise Expert Expert 9 December 2017 20:59

Hi, Anonymous. A viral load that is below detectable is a viral load that has been lowered so much by ARV medication, that when it is tested, the results come back as below detectable. This means that the ARVs are working and are keeping the virus levels low/undetectable. Sometimes if a person tests for HIV at this level the HIV test may be negative, but this is a false negative. This does not mean the HIV is cured, because ARVs do not cure HIV, but they lower the levels of HIV in the blood. If a person has a low viral load, they need to continue taking their ARVs so that the level of HIV stays low, and using condoms every time they have sex. Having a low viral load means you have less risk of getting other illnesses (also called opportunistic infections).

Dr Tefo 22 November 2017 15:26

I have recently joined this great movement of AYFS. I'm glad the department has taken an initiative in ensuring that our adolescent and youth are well informed about their health needs are able to get help with unnecessary delay. I'm a Doctor working in rural areas of the North West province and I will sell this idea to our youth as much as I can.

Ofentse 23 October 2017 13:10

If m a man who have done medical male circumcision is it possible DAT will nva get HIV .because they says u only get it if u HV an entry point .if I don't HV can I get it.

B-Wise Expert Expert 26 October 2017 13:42

Hi Ofentse, this is an important question. Research has shown that circumcision reduces HIV transmission to men by 60%. This means that the risk is less when one is circumcised, BUT it doesn’t mean that circumcision will stop HIV infection. This means you still need to use a condom every time you have sex, even though you are circumcised. Also, remember that circumcision only reduces HIV transmission from women to men during sex – it does not reduce the transmission from men to women.

Anonymous 3 September 2017 07:24

Hi. I would like to understand what must I do I tested positive. Now in 2 months taking therapy so blood tested results said my kidney functions very well. I'm taking lot of water/fluids. But back ache is killing me. Wake me up at midnight very very sewer. What could be the problems please. Please help me.

B-Wise Expert Expert 11 September 2017 12:06

Hi Anonymous, well done on starting ART! As your blood test results have come back normal, this means that your kidneys are working normally and have not been affected by your medication. There are many other causes of lower back pain. It could be related to the muscles in your back, a problem with one of your internal organs (like your gall bladder) or could be a referred pain from elsewhere in the body (such as the knee). If the pain is so severe that it is waking you up at night, you should consult with your healthcare worker to ensure that the pain is not a symptom of a more serious problem. If a more serious problem has been not been identified then the health care worker will prescribe analgesia and a muscle rub for you to use.

Anonymous 30 August 2017 11:22

How do I breastfeed when I am HIV positive...? Is it a wise decision? Is the baby protected? How do u keep baby safe if u like to breastfeed?

Thank you for your question. We have sent it to an expert and will get back to you within 48 hours with a response.
Anonymous 28 August 2017 14:17

I'm feeling dizzy this days. What may be the course please.

B-Wise Expert Expert 6 September 2017 09:20

Dear Anonymous, The cause of your dizziness could be one of many things such as a migraine, certain medications, alcohol or problems with the inner ear. To find out what it is, it’s best to have a face-to-face visit with a healthcare professional, where they will be able to get the full story and do a full examination/assessment to find the cause. So please visit your nearest clinic. If you’re not sure where your nearest clinic is, our clinic finder and rating system can help.

Anonymous 28 August 2017 12:49

Hi what happens if I don't take my ARVs at the same time but do take them everyday just that there is time difference of 30 minutes

B-Wise Expert Expert 6 September 2017 09:26

Dear Anonymous, Thank you for this very important question! It’s best for you to take your ARV tablets at the same time every day because this prevents viral replication (multiplication of the virus). If you take your medication late, the virus starts replicating and the viral load can start going up. But even when you are late, you still have to take your treatment – better late than not at all! Just make sure you are not late very often.


Anonymous 28 August 2017 10:20

I need to know if the viral load is given at first after test. When they give cd4 results. Because I'm doing life cover insurance is needed.

B-Wise Expert Expert 6 September 2017 09:58

Dear Anonymous, The viral load is usually not done when you first get diagnosed with HIV. A CD4 count is usually done in the beginning without a viral load. A viral load is usually done once you have been on treatment for 6 months, and then at 12 months. A viral load is used to tell doctors the level of the virus (HIV) in the blood, and if it is coming down once you are on treatment. Some doctors in private hospitals and clinics do take an initial viral load, but in government facilities, they usually do not take until 6, 12 and 24 months, and then once a year after that.

Anonymous 17 August 2017 11:52

Sides effect of the arv last for 2 weeks according to information I got. But now I'm in week 5 is that good to change therapy.

Anonymous 17 August 2017 11:37

Sides effect of the arv last for 2 weeks according to information I got. But now I'm in week 5 is that good to change therapy.

B-Wise Expert Expert 18 August 2017 15:47

Hi Anonymous, ARV side effects usually last for just a few weeks and then improve, but sometimes it can take longer. It would be best to go and see the health care provider you saw before and discuss with them how you are feeling, so you can together decide what to do.​ Need help finding your nearest clinic? No worries! You can find and rate your local clinic here: http://ow.ly/swnH30euYE2

Anonymous 15 August 2017 12:29

Hi iam taking ARV's it is alcohol good for my health?

B-Wise Expert Expert 17 August 2017 16:10

Hi Anonymous, You can have some alcohol while you are on ARVs – however, you need to drink as little as possible, because heavy alcohol intake may have many negative effects such as:

  • Forgetting to take your ARVs at the right time
  • If you combine some ARVs with alcohol, the alcohol can make side effects like drowsiness even worse
  •  Your overall health may be affected (for example, heavy drinking can take away your appetite, and that could make you lose weight)
  •  If you are anaemic as a result of HIV or the ARVs you are taking, this could be made worse by alcohol

So it’s important that you limit your alcohol use, and take your ARVs at the correct time always!

Anonymous 8 August 2017 19:10

Hy m pregnant nd hiv positive nd my partner is negative we''ve been dating 5years he got type o blood is it possible dat he don't get other infections or s t I

B-Wise Expert Expert 15 August 2017 06:42

Hi Anonymous, thanks for the question. Someone’s blood type cannot protect them from getting HIV or STIs. Because of the structure of women’s bodies (the way women are built) and the way sexual intercourse works, it’s easier for women to get HIV than it is for men. Your current partner has been very lucky to not have acquired HIV up until now, but there is no guarantee that he will not get HIV in the future. The safest way to make sure that your partner stays HIV negative is to use condoms each and every time you have sex. Also make sure to take anti-retroviral therapy (ART) to keep yourself healthy and to prevent the HIV from being transmitted to your unborn baby

Anonymous 8 August 2017 19:10

Hy m pregnant nd hiv positive nd my partner is negative we''ve been dating 5years he got type o blood is it possible dat he don't get other infections or s t I

Anonymous 3 August 2017 21:31

Hello. I am a 27year old female from Mpumalanga. I have been dating 2 guys for the past few months. I have done some research on HIV and I found out that you can have unprotected sex with both of my boyfriends and still not get infected that's if they are both HIV negative and they don't sleep with anyone else except for me. Sometime last month I decided to go get tested with the both of them and luckily they are both HIV negative. So I just need to find out how true are my findings from my research because the 3 of us are ready to have unprotected sex.

B-Wise Expert Expert 15 August 2017 06:43

Hi Anonymous, it’s great that you are doing research to take care of your health. It is true that if neither of your partners has HIV, and you are also HIV negative, then HIV can’t be transmitted. The problem is that there is no guarantee that all partners will remain HIV negative. If one partner has a relationship (or even a one-night stand) outside of this one, then there is a chance they may get HIV from that person and pass it on to everyone involved in your relationship.  The best and safest thing you can do is to use condoms with anyone every time you have sex.

Anonymous 27 July 2017 13:21

I am Lindy from Jhb. My partner is HIV- & I'm HIV+ but always he doesn't want to use condom so is it safe for both of us 2do so?

Lindy 27 July 2017 13:20

I am Lindy from Jhb. My partner is HIV- & I'm HIV+ but always he doesn't want to use condom so is it safe for both of us 2do so

Anonymous 27 July 2017 13:19

I am Lindy from Jhb. My partner is HIV- & I'm HIV+ but always he doesn't want to use condom so is it safe for both of us 2do so

B-Wise Expert Expert 3 August 2017 14:39

Hi Lindy, this is a very important question. The simple answer is: it is not safe. Even if you are virally suppressed (when the function and replication of a virus is reduced) and healthy, a small chance of transmission remains. Condoms are also important for preventing the spread of STIs, some of which can cause long term problems.

Anonymous 22 April 2017 10:28

Ungaphila ithuba elinganani uleHIV

B-Wise Expert Expert 23 April 2017 09:18

Hi, a person with HIV can live as long as a person without HIV. As long as they take ARVs, regularly visit their clinic for check-ups and live a healthy lifestyle.

Anonymous 21 April 2017 19:31

What do i have to do help me ,i want 2 find acceptence abt my status ,what should i do?

B-Wise Expert Expert 25 April 2017 09:12

Hi, Thank you for sending this question to B-Wise. There are different kinds of acceptance. There’s self-acceptance, which means you accept your own HIV status. This can take a short time or a long time, depending on the person. Sometimes it’s very difficult to accept your own status and it can make you feel sad, scared, confused or angry. That’s OK – it’s part of the journey. Finding acceptance means working through all those feelings, and accepting that HIV will always be a part of your life, but that you can still have a long and healthy life. There is also acceptance from other people – and this is sometimes hard because you can’t control how other people feel. But you can tell people you trust about your status, those who will accept you for who you are. These people are more likely to accept your status too.  

BWise Moderators 25 October 2016 09:23

Mampe asked on Facebook:Hi BWise Team I would like to know what should be done to solve my Male friends problem who's HIV+ on ARV's who for the past year is having a problem of discharge(boladu) & rotten private part while he was still attending Local Clinic that later referred him to Baragwanath Hospital but his situation is getting worse even after they inserted a draining pipe?Pls help i'm worried

B-Wise Expert Expert 26 October 2016 12:00

Hi Mamphe, we are sorry to hear about your friend. The right treatment for him depends on what is causing the discharge and sores. It could be an infection or cancer. Since your friend is getting treatment at the hospital, this means the cause for the infection can be found and he can be given the correct treatment. The pipe they have inserted into the penis is to help him to pass urine easily without causing him pain. It will be removed when he gets better.

BWise Moderators 19 October 2016 08:20

Mampe asked on Facebook:Hi BeWise Team i've started my ARV's treatment 2yrs ago taking 1 pill every night at the same time after an hour eating as i was taught to but lately i'm experiencing stomach cramps at night as i'm suffering insomnia too' what could be a problem because i'm drinking enough water & i make sure i eat healthy enough.

B-Wise Expert Expert 26 October 2016 12:00

Hi Mampe, Sorry to hear you or your listener is having trouble with sleeping and getting stomach cramps. Antiretrovirals (ARVs) have different side effects. depending on which kind you are taking. For example, the medicine called, Efavirenz, can cause insomnia, while medicines like AZT and Aluvia can cause stomach cramps. Sometimes not eating before you take your medicine or taking another medicine with your ARVs can give you stomach cramps. It is a good idea to talk to your nurse or doctor and let them know you are having problems. They may be able to give you a different medication or change your dosage. Just remember to keep taking your ARVs no matter what and only make the changes your doctor or nurse recommends.

BWise Moderators 17 October 2016 09:53

Mampe asked on Facebook:Hi Guys is Mampe Likhoeli frm Sharpeville I would like to know dangers of sniffing snuff while a person is infected (with HIV) & is on ARV's?

B-Wise Expert Expert 24 October 2016 12:00

Hi, Mampe. Thank you for another interesting question. Snuff is made of tobacco and has nicotine. This makes it unsafe and very addictive. It can cause illnesses, such as swelling of the sinuses, runny or blocked nose, cancer, stroke and heart attack. The effects are even worse if you are HIV positive and on ARV treatment. It is better to avoid using snuff.

BWise Moderators 30 August 2016 09:19

Mampe asked on Facebook:Hi BWise Team can U help me answer 1of my Listeners as i do HIV/AIDS features on different Community Radio's Stations around Vaal' She's on ARV'S for 3yrs now but complains about swollen feet & has no high blood pressure nor heart problem,She says sometimes it get worse that She can't walk...WHAT MUST BE DONE because Sisters says She will be fine?

B-Wise Expert Expert 31 August 2016 09:00

Hi Mampe, thanks for using B-wise as your reference on your radio show. Swollen feet can be caused by different things - many of these are not related to HIV or HIV medicines. They can range from heart problems (as you have said) to problems with the kidneys, liver or even veins in the legs. Your listener should return to the clinic and explain exactly what happens to her legs, when it happens and for how long this has been occurring. If the Sister is unsure, she will refer her to a doctor or hospital for further tests.

BWise Moderators 17 August 2016 09:07

Mampe asked on Facebook:Evening Guys is Mampe Likhoeli frm Sharpeville in the Vaal again' i'm worried because since i was diagnosed 1999 but started taking treatment in 2014 with a CD4 count of 349 now i'm non-detactable but it feels like my stomach needs servicing though i drink enough water & eating healthy WHAT MUST I DO?

B-Wise Expert Expert 22 August 2016 09:00

Hi, Mampe. Thanks again for another interesting question. It is not a good idea to use anything that causes diarrhoea, as the body does not need to be cleaned by vomiting or diarrhoea. Doing this can be dangerous. It causes a water imbalance and imbalance of other important things in your body called electrolytes. This can also be dangerous if you are taking ARVs, because it can make your viral load high and CD4 count low. This which leads to a low immune system, which can make you sick. If you are feeling that you don't have enough energy, try taking a multivitamin or vitamin B. It is also a good idea to visit your clinic or doctor for a check-up.

Anonymous 11 August 2016 12:23

5 ways which HIV can be contracted

B-Wise Expert Expert 12 August 2016 11:00

Hi Anonymous. Thank you for that interesting questions. Here are 5 ways HIV can be contracted: 1. Sexual intercourse without a condom with a person who is HIV positive. 2. Using injections (needles) or blades that were used by a HIV positive person. 3. Contact with body fluids of a HIV positive person. For example from blood or semen. This includes oral sex or touching someone's blood while you have cuts or sores. 4. A person can be born with it if their mother is HIV positive and not on treatment. 5. From a mother who is HIV positive and is breast-feeding their child.

Anonymous 10 August 2016 11:57

Is it normal wen u re taking your ARVs and you became fat i mean I'm getting big ,i was 55kg before now I'm 98kg,and am having 11months on my medication now

B-Wise Expert Expert 12 August 2016 11:30

Hi Anonymous. Thank you very much for your question. Yes, ARVs can cause you to gain weight. The best thing you can do is to start exercising and eating healthy foods (like fruits and vegetables) instead of junk food (like takeaways and sweets) in order to lose weight in a healthy way.

Anonymous 2 August 2016 22:25

Lawa amanje ama arvs ayawushitsha yini mzimba womuntu ube enye indlela engasafana nalena obuyiyona,akwakhe isifumbu nezihluzu

B-Wise Expert Expert 4 August 2016 12:39

Hi Anonymous. Thanks for the interesting question. Newer ARVs don't have the same side effects as the older drugs. The side affects you mentioned were common with the older drugs, but don't usually happen with the current ARVs.

BWise Moderators 2 August 2016 11:50

Mampe asked on Facebook: Is it possible for HIV+ Patient to be off His/Her treatment because of taking another treatment like Kidney failer & liver problem but after treatment of those 2 problems not continue with Her/His ARV'S treatment? if so what must be done because the Clinic refuses to put Her/Him back to ARV'S.

B-Wise Expert Expert 24 April 2017 19:14

Once you are diagnosed with HIV it is important to start your ARVs and not stop taking them. If you have very bad side effects from the ARVS, then a healthcare worker can stop you for a while or change your ARV treatment. If severe side effects occur as a result of ART use, very occasionally a health care worker may suspend ART use temporarily or may change the type of ART drugs used. Some ARVs can cause kidney and liver problems. If this happens then it is important that the ARVs are changed to ones that don’t affect the kidneys or liver or take a smaller dose. If the clinic does not want to put you back on ARVs then ask them to refer you to a bigger HIV clinic for further management.

Anonymous 26 July 2016 14:54

Uma si posetive sobabili nomuntu wami and asisebenzisi condom kungaba igciwane liyabhebhetheka olthoug siwudla kahle umshanguzo

B-Wise Expert Expert 2 August 2016 10:00

Hi Anonymous, thanks for this great question. Yes, it is possible to be re-infected with HIV if you have sex without a condom. The HIV virus changes very quickly in the body. The virus in your body and the one in your partner's body is not the same. This is why "re-infection" can happen: you can get a new kind of HIV from your partner, and sometimes one person has a type of HIV that doesn't respond to medicine (ARVs). Condoms can help stop you and your partner from re-infecting each other. Condoms are also important for making sure you don't get other sexually transmitted infections (STI's) and for preventing pregnancy. To keep you and your partner safe, make sure you always use condoms.