Highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, is a treatment for HIV-infected people that consists of at least three drugs that suppress HIV replication, according to the World Health Organization. HAART tends to use three drugs specifically to lower the risk of the virus developing resistance.
HAART is a customized combination of drugs, writes the National Institute on Drug Abuse. A physician might need to take into account a patient's viral load, which strain of the virus the patient has, disease symptoms, and other combinations before embarking on antiretroviral therapy, abbreviated as ART. HAART does not cure HIV, but instead potentially lengthens the lifespan of a HIV-positive patient and treats various symptoms. Because HAART controls the viral load, it can delay the progression of HIV to AIDS. It must be taken every day for the course of the patient's life. HAART's influence on HIV treatment is enormous, changing it from a fatal disease to one that is able to be managed with medication.
As of 2015, HAART, sometimes referred to as an anti-HIV cocktail, remains the standard treatment for HIV, according to WebMD. Its goal is to prevent HIV from multiplying and weakening the immune system. It is considered more effective than monotherapy, which is the use of one medication to treat HIV.