Treatment for FIV
There is no cure for FIV. Since most FIV-infected cats die from secondary infections, one of the best things pet owners can do is to take measures to prevent secondary infections. Pet owners should protect a FIV-positive cat from exposure to infectious agents (i.e., bacteria, parasites) by keeping the cat
- away from other cats,
- indoors, and
- vaccinated against other viral diseases.
Medications to Treat FIV
Many of the opportunistic infections that accompany FIV can be treated with antibacterial and antifungal medications, but as FIV progresses, the infections become more difficult to treat. Pet owners should be aware that antimicrobial drugs may be only moderately successful and must be used continuously to prevent new infections.
Most antiviral drugs are not effective at fighting FIV, although an immunomodulatory drug (a type of antiviral drug that targets the immune system) like interferon may help alleviate symptoms. The United States Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) has granted a conditional product license for lymphocyte T-cell immune modulator (LTCI) to treat associated symptoms in cats with FIV and/or FeLV (feline leukemia virus).
This drug is administered as an injection in three initial doses. The second dose usually is given 7 days after the first dose, and the third dose is given 14 days after the first dose. Monthly injections may be administered as needed. During treatment, blood tests are performed regularly to monitor lymphocyte and red blood cell levels. Long-term effects of this treatment have not yet been determined.
Some medications used to treat certain conditions in FIV-negative cats should not be used to treat FIV-positive cats because of potential complications. These include systemic corticosteroids, which can further weaken the immune system, and griseofulvin (a systemic antifungal medication), that can induce severe neutropenia (abnormal decrease in the number of circulating neutrophils, a type of white blood cell).
Third-Stage FIV Therapies
Cats in the third stage of disease may require intravenous fluid therapy, blood transfusions, or high-calorie dietary supplements. Pet owners should discuss these options with their veterinarian.