In addition to antiretroviral therapy to combat HIV infection, effective drug treatments are available to fight many of the medical complications that result from HIV infection. Doctors try to prevent infections before they begin to avoid taxing a patientís weakened immune system unnecessarily. A doctor instructs an HIV-infected person on ways to avoid exposure to infectious agents that produce opportunistic infections common in people with a weakened immune system.
Doctors usually prescribe more than one drug to forestall infections. For example, for those who have a history of pneumocystic pneumonia and a CD4 cell count of less than 200 cells per microliter, doctors may prescribe the antibiotics sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim to prevent further bouts of pneumonia. Patients suffering from recurring thrush may be given the antifungal drug fluconazole for prolonged periods. For people with CD4 cell counts of less than 100 cells per microliter, doctors may prescribe clarithromycin or azithromycin to prevent Mycobacterium avium infections.