What is HIV?

HIV is a virus that attacks the human immune system. There is no cure for HIV. Unlike some other viruses, such as the common cold, HIV cannot be cleared from the body. However, there are treatments available. Talk to your healthcare provider and see below for more information.

How can HIV affect your body?

The HIV virus attacks and destroys CD4 T-cells—important immune system cells that help your body fight infections. The more CD4 T-cells that are destroyed, the weaker your immune system can become. With fewer CD4 T-cells due to HIV, it can be harder for your body to fight illnesses and infections.

What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

Being HIV positive is not the same as having AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). HIV is a virus that kills CD4 T-cells in the body. Over time, if so many CD4 T-cells are killed that the body has a reduced ability to fight infection, HIV can advance to AIDS. HIV infection advances to AIDS when there are less than 200 CD4 T-cells per millimeter of blood. If this happens, it means your immune system has become very weak, and you can quickly become very sick.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is transmitted through contact with certain body fluids, such as semen, vaginal or anal fluid, breast milk, and blood. Contact with these body fluids can occur during unprotected sex or when sharing needles or other items with body fluids on them. Mothers can pass the HIV virus to their babies during pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. You CANNOT transmit HIV through contact with sweat, tears, saliva, bath or pool water, or by sharing dishes or drinking glasses, hugging or shaking hands.

What are the steps you can take to live healthy with HIV?

HIV does not have a cure, but there are steps you can take to live healthy with HIV, including taking HIV medicines. HIV treatment helps lower your viral load and, as a result, helps protect your immune system.

Ask your healthcare provider about other things you can do to help stay healthy, including:

  • Avoiding sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • Using protection every time you have sex.
  • Never sharing or reusing needles.
  • Getting help with substance abuse, stress, or depression.
  • Exercising and eating well.
  • Stopping smoking, which can be more harmful to people living with HIV.
Download Discussion Guide Download Discussion Guide Download Discussion Guide

Get the conversation about your health goals started with your doctor.



  • Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, or stomach-area pain.

The most common side effects of BIKTARVY in clinical studies were diarrhea (6%), nausea (5%), and headache (5%). Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that bother you or don’t go away.


What you should know about HIV treatment

HIV medicines can help you control the HIV virus

While there is currently no cure for HIV or AIDS, HIV medicines can help control HIV infection, which can help protect your immune system and reduce the risk of serious infections. Even when you are being treated for HIV-1, there is still a risk of passing HIV-1 on to others. Always practice safer sex and use condoms to lower the chance of sexual contact with bodily fluids. To find out which HIV medicines might be right for you, talk to a healthcare provider.

HIV medicines can help in two ways

  • Lower the viral load (the amount of virus in the blood). HIV medicines can help people living with HIV achieve an undetectable viral load, meaning the amount of virus in the blood is so small that it can’t be measured by a test. Being undetectable does not mean that the virus is gone.
  • Raise the CD4 T-cell count (the number of cells that fight infections in the body). Reducing the HIV-1 viral load can help raise your CD4 T-cell number, which can help make your immune system stronger.

Take your HIV medicines exactly as directed

Get the most from your HIV treatment by taking your medicines exactly as your healthcare provider prescribes them. Your viral load can increase if you don’t take your HIV medicines as prescribed, if you miss doses, or if you stop treatment. This can also cause drug resistance, meaning that your HIV virus has become less likely to respond to medicines and more difficult to treat, now and in the future.

Find out which HIV medicines might be right for you

Ask your healthcare provider about your options for treating HIV. Different HIV medicines are taken in a variety of ways:

  • In one or more daily pills
  • With or without meals
  • Once daily or more frequently

It is important to let your healthcare provider know if you have any other health conditions or if you are currently taking any other medicines, including prescription, over-the-counter vitamins, and herbal supplements. Your healthcare provider will prescribe an option that is right for you.


What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking BIKTARVY?

  • All your health problems. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you have or have had any kidney or liver problems, including hepatitis virus infection.
  • All the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, antacids, laxatives, vitamins, and herbal supplements. BIKTARVY and other medicines may affect each other. Keep a list of all your medicines and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist, and ask if it is safe to take BIKTARVY with all of your other medicines.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if BIKTARVY can harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant while taking BIKTARVY.
  • If you are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed. HIV-1 can be passed to the baby in breast milk.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call ‍1‑800‑FDA‑10881‑800‑FDA‑1088.

You are now leaving BIKTARVY.com.

By following this link, you are now leaving BIKTARVY.com. This site is not controlled by Gilead Sciences, Inc. Gilead Sciences, Inc. is not responsible for the site's content or your use of the site.

You are now leaving BIKTARVY.com

Would you like to continue?