Sometimes ARV treatments can cause side effects, particularly in the first few days.
Most side effects from treatment are mild and can be managed, but some can be life-threatening. Overall, the benefits of treatment far outweigh the risk of side effects.
As ARV treatment options continue to improve, people are less likely to experience side effects from their treatment. Side effects from treatment can vary depending on the drug that is being used. People taking the same treatment can have very different side effects.
Mild side effects, like headaches, tiredness or dizziness, may not be serious and may go away as soon as the body adjusts to treatment. If not, a healthcare provider might suggest changing the way a treatment is taken. For instance, they may recommend taking it with food instead of on an empty stomach, or at night instead of in the morning.
Other side effects, such as swelling of the throat and tongue or liver damage, can be life-threatening. A healthcare provider will make the necessary changes, if your ARV treatment is causing life-threatening side effects.
Talk to your healthcare provider about side effects that you may experience.
ARV treatment can interact with other medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products. A drug interaction can reduce the effectiveness of treatment. Drug interactions can also cause unwanted side effects.
Talk to your healthcare provider about other medications you may be taking with your ARV treatment.
When HIV makes copies of itself in the body, the virus sometimes changes form and makes variations of itself. Variations of HIV that develop while a person is taking ARV treatment can lead to drug-resistant strains of HIV. A treatment that previously controlled a person’s HIV may not be effective anymore against the new drug-resistant HIV. In other words, the person’s HIV continues to make copies of itself.
Poor adherence to ARV treatment increases the risk of developing drug resistance and treatment failure. Your treatment will be monitored by your healthcare provider, and you may need to switch to a different treatment option, if you have developed drug resistance.